Martin: What does it mean to forgive?

Published 12:23 am Saturday, October 14, 2017

By Jerria Martin | Martin is a minister and director of the Drug Free Communities of Dallas County

What does it mean to forgive? A basic definition for forgiveness could be, giving up my right to hurt you, for hurting me.

The word “forgive” means to wipe the slate clean, to pardon, to cancel a debt.

Thus, when we wrong someone, we seek his or her forgiveness in order for the relationship to be restored.

It is important to remember that forgiveness is not granted because someone deserves to be forgiven.

Forgiveness is an act of love, mercy and grace.

Somewhere along the line, everyone has fallen out with someone, a brother or sister or parent, maybe someone at work or at school, or a neighbor, or simply someone whose name we don’t even remember who did something so small.

Maybe there have even been times when it has felt like someone has ripped your heart out from your chest.

Yet, we are supposed to forgive. Forgiveness is hard, but it’s necessary.

Not only is it necessary, it’s required.

Jesus did not just speak about forgiveness, Jesus commanded us to forgive.

Luke 6:37 says, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.”

All of us have needed, do need, and will need forgiveness.

Just as we all need forgiveness, we also all need to forgive others.

Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

Bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, these are all signs that our hearts are not full of forgiveness. The world says get even and do unto others as they’ve done unto you. Christ calls us, commands us, to forgive.
When you don’t forgive a person it’s impossible for you to keep the greatest commandment of Christ, which is to love that person.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reasoned, “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.”

Holding a grudge doesn’t make you stronger, it makes you bitter. Forgiving doesn’t make you weak, it sets you free.

Forgiving someone may cost you your pride, but an unforgiving heart will cost you your freedom.

Forgiveness is a powerful tool.

We need more in Selma, in our state, our nation and our world, because there is liberating, empowering and motivational hope in forgiveness.