A commentary on the history, contexts, and meanings of the word "genius," in addition to articles on other related subjects and many new era Christian sermons.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

17 Forgiveness

17. Forgiveness

The text, on which today's sermon is based, is the same as last week:
 John 13:34
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."

The connection between this text and the title of the sermon, "Forgiveness", is that: only be achieving infinite love will we ever be able to forgive with Divine Forgiveness. In other words, until we become completely spiritualized, in Jesus' Infinite Love, we cannot function on a Divine level in our daily mundane activities--we cannot bring Heaven to Earth.

Usually when I create a sermon I have a point. Today, I don't really have a point, except to repeat one sentence from my sermon of two weeks ago concerning forgiveness and the "pearls before swine" paradox:
"I'm sure there's a line somewhere, which any kind of sane person will not allow himself to cross--but let's face it, most of us put that line a lot closer to ourselves than we have to; we should be constantly making an effort to reach out to our enemies, placing that line, over which we must not cross, further and further into their ballpark."
To be sure, forgiveness, like all things human, is governed by sequences of degrees, similar to the passage of time in the material plane--we think, "Surely, as puny carbon-based units, there must be a finite limit to how much we can give "AS BEFORE!" And yet, the COMMANDMENT of Jesus:
"as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."
seems always to ask more of us; it asks us to reach, beyond that which is reasonable, for that which is divinely unreasonable; in forgiving more and more than we think it is possible to forgive, we approach the point of infinite forgiveness which transcends the restriction of material sequentiality. As the poet Robert Frost says of the heavenly star:
"And steadfast as Keats' Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid."

To forgive a grievous transgression is much like reaching for a star, because, in forgiving, we must look past the petty mundanities of life, toward the higher-minded signature of spirit. It is a central universal theme, and a pivotal universal struggle.

So today, in searching for comments on forgiveness, it was no trouble to find a wealth of material. Forgiveness is a very big subject: it is not only a very big deal in Christianity, it's very big in Judaism, very big in Islam, very big in Buddhism, etc. The dogmatic liturgies of all the worlds' religions, include major sections concerning forgiveness. And so, by simply accumulating a lot of articles on forgiveness, I found an assortment of very beautiful passages to read, so that we can just think about forgiveness a little bit more, and listen to what all these people have to say about it.

As usual, we begin with a summary From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

"Forgiveness is the renunciation or cessation of resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, disagreement, or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution. The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness as 'to grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offense or debt'. The concept and benefits of forgiveness have been explored in religious thought, the social sciences and medicine. Forgiveness may be considered simply in terms of the person who forgives including forgiving themselves, in terms of the person forgiven or in terms of the relationship between the forgiver and the person forgiven.
Most world religions include teachings on the nature of forgiveness, and many of these teachings provide an underlying basis for many varying modern day traditions and practices of forgiveness. Some religious doctrines or philosophies place greater emphasis on the need for humans to find some sort of divine forgiveness for their own shortcomings, others place greater emphasis on the need for humans to practice forgiveness of one another, yet others make little or no distinction between human and divine forgiveness."
[Sidebar: On this subject, there were several pertinent comments:]
Christianity: Considering Matthew 6:14,15, that follows the Lord's Prayer:
"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
Forgiveness is not an option to a Christian, rather one must Forgive to be a Christian. Christians must practice unlimited forgiveness. Take to heart these two verses:
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Eph. 4:32)
"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Col. 3:13).
Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, summarized:
"It is not that God forgives, while human beings do not. To the contrary, we believe that just as only God can forgive sins against God, so only human beings can forgive sins against human beings."
Sincere repentance is required, and once again, God can only forgive one for the sins one has committed against God; this is why it is necessary for Jews also to seek the forgiveness of those people who they have wronged. 

Islam: Depending on the type of wrong committed, forgiveness can come either directly from Allah, or from one's fellow man who received the wrong. In the case of divine forgiveness, the asking for divine forgiveness via repentance is important. In the case of human forgiveness, it is important to both forgive, and to be forgiven.

LDS Forgiving Others:
In addition to seeking forgiveness for our own sins, we must be willing to forgive others. The Lord said:
”Ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men“ (D&C 64:9-10).
It can be seen, from these quotes, that the question, of Divine versus Earthly Forgiveness, is one which has provided many thinkers material for deep thought.
From here, we retreat to a more general overview of forgiveness as preached in many world religions:

Religious views

The Tefila Zaka meditation, which is recited just before Yom Kippur, closes with the following:

•     "I know that there is no one so righteous that they have not wronged another, financially or physically, through deed or speech. This pains my heart within me, because wrongs between humans and their fellow are not atoned by Yom Kippur, until the wronged one is appeased. Because of this, my heart breaks within me, and my bones tremble; for even the day of death does not atone for such sins. Therefore I prostrate and beg before You, to have mercy on me, and grant me grace, compassion, and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all people. For behold, I forgive with a final and resolved forgiveness anyone who has wronged me, whether in person or property, even if they slandered me, or spread falsehoods against me. So I release anyone who has injured me either in person or in property, or has committed any manner of sin that one may commit against another…”
Thus the "reward" for forgiving others is not God's forgiveness for wrongs done to others, but rather help in obtaining forgiveness from the other person.

In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of the importance of Christians forgiving or showing mercy towards others. The Parable of the Prodigal Son is perhaps the best known instance of such teaching and practice of forgiveness.

[Sidebar: I think I'll do a sermon on The Prodigal Son next--such a great story--it would make a great opera.

Back to wikipedia:]

"Elsewhere, it is said, "Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21-22 (NKJV)
[Sidebar: The question of number must always play a part in this discussion: how many times? The suggestion, of Jesus, of an impossibly high number is echoed in the parable, below, of the Unforgiving Servant, whose debt was unpayable. I guess a crucial part, of achieving spiritual realization, must be: to forget how to count. It IS POSSIBLE to form the habit of throwing off all care and resentment, every day, and thus live free to explore Heavenly terrains. If you forgive everything, all the time, you will definitely lose count.

Back to Wikipedia:]

Jesus asked for God's forgiveness of those who crucified him. "And Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'" Luke 23: 34
[Sidebar: "Forgive them for they know not what they do" is a very power- packed expression, because it majorly references responsibility and intention. Jesus did not hold his murderers responsible for their horrible acts, because they didn't know what they were doing. They did not intend to do what they were doing, and since intention is the outward manifestation of the heart, the the people who murdered Jesus were pure of heart; just as were the Puritan witch burners, and the Italian Inquisitors, and all the other misguided tormentors who violated God's Will by doing what they thought was God's Will.

The Nazis simply thought they were doing something good, so their intentions were pure--and, although they committed the most heinous crimes against humanity, crimes which were obvious to all the rest of humanity, the evil was invisible to them: so they could not be held responsible. Who WAS responsible, we will get to in a minute, but, for now, we must admit that the Nazis are prime candidates for an exercise of Divine Forgiveness. Anyone who intends evil is an evil doer; but one who does not intend evil cannot be thought of as an evil doer: he can be thought of as a fool, and, as we shall see, a victim, but not an evil doer. I myself find it a much more comfortable thought to forgive a population of fools, than to try to forgive a population of evildoers.

But who IS to blame for this evil, this OBVIOUS EVIL?

As I have mentioned before, I have a habit of revisiting old wounds, especially when I'm sitting around working. My mind will begin to wander, and suddenly I'll find myself thinking about various people who have hurt me; I have a list of prepared speeches, which I will deliver to all these people, in case they ever get in my face again; I rehearse these speeches repeatedly. I have a speech that I say to the student who betrayed me, I have a speech that I say to my old friend from high school who has abandoned me, I even have a speech for the cop who stops me on the highway (for I don't know what).

I find myself revisiting these speeches, ad infinitum, and they are such a burden: sometimes I feel that I simply can't stop rerunning these these inner monologues. However, I am learning, from Jesus' encouragement, to love divinely: if I focus my mind on putting myself in the other persons shoes, if I try to make what he says or does become true, then I can really get behind what made him do the things he did to me, and can much more easily forgive. With understanding comes love; it is universally held that understanding is one of the gateways to love; or perhaps it is the other way around: perhaps love is the gateway to understanding? Perhaps forgiveness and understanding may be thought of as two polar opposites on a single continuum: forgiveness is on one end, and understanding on the other, with love right smack in the middle dominating everything.

So, to put myself into somebody else's shoes is to understand him, to understand why he hurt me, to understand why he could conclude it was a good thing to hurt me; and in understanding him, I come to love him; and, of course, with love comes forgiveness, with forgiveness comes the relief of a burden which has long tormented me, and made my life miserable. This forgiveness is all within me, changing my self-based carnal attitude to one of heavenly tolerance. With this type of forgiveness, I don't even touch, in any way, the offending party, who, by the way, was never going to get in my face again, and to whom I will never, ever deliver that speech.

Back to wikipedia:]

The Prophet was the most forgiving person. He was ever ready to forgive his enemies. When he went to Ta’if to preach the message of Allah, its people mistreated him, abused him and hit him with stones. He left the city humiliated and wounded. When he took shelter under a tree, the angel of Allah visited him and told him that Allah sent him to destroy the people of Ta’if because of their sin of maltreating their Prophet. Muhammad prayed to Allah to save the people of Ta'if, because what they did was out of their ignorance.

[Sidebar: Again we forgive them because they know not what they do.]

Bahá'í Faith
Humanity is not perfect. There are imperfections in every human being, and you will always become unhappy if you look toward the people themselves. But if you look toward God, you will love them and be kind to them, for the world of God is the world of perfection and complete mercy. Therefore, do not look at the shortcomings of anybody; see with the sight of forgiveness."
— `Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 92


In Buddhism, forgiveness is seen as a practice to prevent harmful thoughts from causing havoc on one’s mental well-being. Buddhism recognizes that feelings of hatred and ill-will leave a lasting effect on our mind. Instead, Buddhism encourages the cultivation of thoughts that leave a wholesome effect.

[Sidebar: No matter what else may be said, unforgiveness is, first and foremost, an inhabitant of the mind; thus, the instruction to cultivate "pleasant thoughts to replace the evil thoughts" is very good advice. I believe that when I am working hard, living in the mind, I expand my consciousness outward into higher dimensions: just enough to make my mind easily accessible to Satan. I know now, and ever more clearly, that it was the devil at my elbow all those times--it was he who was taunting me with all those negative thoughts--bad thoughts revived and resuscitated time and again by inattention and foolish pride--attributes of the Luciferic mind set.

It is worth it to expand a little bit on this idea of the Devil at your elbow: we have said, many times, that Satan and Satan's minions stalk us incessantly, always trying to find a way to insinuate their way into our thoughts, filling our minds with lies. As I have mentioned, one prime time target for Satanic attacks is when we are concentrating, and we send our consciousness up into higher dimensions; this puts our egoic inner monologue within a viable proximity to Satan, who jumps at the chance to attack our heightened vulnerability.

Another one of the best times for the Devil to hold sway over us, is when we are teamed up in the pursuit of justice. Someone who wrongs us is obviously a bad person--we can think of him as a bad person because of what he did to us. This equation is fair. The Devil is FAIR. Someone, who did something bad to us, deserves to be punished, deserves to suffer, deserves to repent and be humiliated by us for this wrong. It's only fair! Thus do many people pave their way to hell in exchange for the fairness of the Devil.

Remember that FAIR has nothing to do with it. It has everything to do with this: we are all victims of Original Sin, and, in a just world, we would all merit NO MERCY in God's eyes; but thanks to Jesus, we can ask his forgiveness, and it is given to us. Thus, just as we love as He does, we must forgive as He does. The only way we can open our hearts to His personality is to take on his burdens with His blessings. Thus, do we achieve freedom.

Back to Wikipedia:]

Addressing Dhritarashtra, Vidura said:

"There is one only defect in forgiving persons, and not another; that defect is that people take a forgiving person to be weak. That defect, however, should not be taken into consideration, for forgiveness is a great power. Forgiveness is a virtue of the weak, and an ornament of the strong. Forgiveness subdues (all) in this world; what is there that forgiveness cannot achieve? What can a wicked person do unto him who carries the sabre of forgiveness in his hand? Fire falling on the grassless ground is extinguished of itself. And unforgiving individual defiles himself with many enormities. Righteousness is the one highest good; and forgiveness is the one supreme peace; knowledge is one supreme contentment; and benevolence, one sole happiness." (From the Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva Section XXXIII)
An even more authoritative statement about forgiveness is espoused by Krishna, who is considered to be an incarnation (Avatar) of Vishnu by Hindus. Krishna said in the Gita that forgiveness is one of the characteristics of one born for a divine state. It is noteworthy that he distinguishes those good traits from those he considered to be demoniac, such as pride, self-conceit and anger (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 16, verse 3).
Village priests may open their temple ceremonies with the following beloved invocation:
"O Lord, forgive three sins that are due to my human limitations: Thou art everywhere, but I worship thee here; Thou art without form, but I worship thee in these forms; Thou needest no praise, yet I offer thee these prayers and salutations; Lord, forgive three sins that are due to my human limitations."
[Sidebar: The issue of consciousness without form, yet worshipping in these forms, brings in the idea of FAITH. We do things that would seem to have no relevance in the world of Spirit, and yet we do them anyway, as our best efforts to achieve a Heavenly state of consciousness; also, we have Faith that it is enough.

The word "Belief" may be best defined as: backing an idea you can't quite get your mind around, but having the courage to hold to it, even in the face of doubt. To perform a formal rite, and, at the same time to transcend that rite, is a true act of faith, beyond our powers of literal comprehension. For us to even contemplate the enormity of the proposition:
"as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."
we must enter the "cloud of unknowing" and forsake all our pre-conceptions, and prejudices, and especially our complaints against others. We must lose our personal will, merging with the Divine Will: and thus we will love, forgive, and be free.

The following article recounts the parable of The Unforgiving Servant:


Rev. P.G. Mathew
"After listening to Jesus' teaching on reconciliation, unity, restoration and forgiveness, Peter asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" (Matt. 18:21) Peter thought seven times would be very generous. It was the rabbinic teaching that a man must forgive three times. One rabbi said that if a man committed an offense once, twice or even three times, you must forgive him, but by the fourth time you did not have to forgive him. Peter understood this idea, and being very generous, he doubled it and added one more time for good measure. So he asked Jesus what he thought: "Up to seven times?" I am sure he expected to be commended for his gracious attitude.

Jesus' answer surprised Peter. Peter's problem was that he was still thinking in terms of justice and legality. Jesus' reply was not based on law and justice, but based on the gospel of grace. "Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times,'" (Matt. 18:22) meaning without limit!

Jesus' answer contrasts with that of Lamech in Genesis 4:24. A descendant of Cain, Lamech boasted about his ability to avenge himself on his enemies. He says, "If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times." Lamech, as an unbeliever, was boasting that he would practice unlimited revenge. But in the gospel this is reversed. If a sinner is saved by Christ and transformed by the gospel, he now must forgive his brothers without limit. So Jesus told Peter that even seven times was not generous enough. He needed to forgive his brother as God in Christ forgave him: limitlessly.

To drive home his teaching about unlimited forgiveness, Jesus told a parable to his disciples. (Matt. 18:23-35) There was a king, representing the King of heaven, to whom people owed great debts. A man who owed 10,000 talents was brought before him. The words used to describe this debt demonstrated its enormity. Ten thousand was the highest number in daily use, and the talent was the highest unit of money. Although it is not specified, we can also assume that the talents were made of gold. In his book, The Parables of Jesus (Moody Press, 1983, p. 183), Dr. James M.Boice figured the debt in today's values: if there were ten thousand talents, each talent weighing seventy-five pounds, and if each pound was 12 ounces and each ounce of gold would be worth about $400, then this man's debt would be about $3.6 billion. The idea is this: that this man's debt was infinite, and he was absolutely incapable of paying it. In the same way, the debt we owe God is of infinite proportion.

This man could not pay up, and the great king commanded that the servant, his wife, his children, and all he owned be sold to cover the debt. The man fell down before the king. "'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.'" (Matt. 18:26) Of course, he could not do that. It was impossible, and the king knew it. We are told, though, that the king was moved with compassion to release the man and forgive him all his debt. The man was free! He owed absolutely nothing. Through the king's great mercy alone, he was forgiven his infinite debt.

But in Matthew 18:28 we see the forgiven man looking for a fellow servant who owed him 100 denarii, which would today equal about $4,000 (Boice, Parables of Jesus, p. 183). Compared to his own infinite debt, this was nothing! But when he found the man, he grabbed him, choked him and demanded his money. This other man also fell down and begged for patience. But the forgiven servant was not moved by any kind of compassion. His heart had not been changed in any way by his master's merciful actions. Even though the debt was comparatively nothing, he showed no mercy and threw the man into prison until the debt could be paid.

The great king was told about this wretched man's cruel behavior. "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?'" Then the master dealt with the unforgiving man according to law instead of mercy. "In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed." That represents eternal hell. Then Jesus made this stunning declaration: "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." (Matt. 18:32-35) In effect, Jesus answered Peter's question: "You have received unlimited mercy from God through me; therefore, you must demonstrate unlimited mercy."

We discovered in Matthew 5:23-24 that we must forgive before we pray. If we will not forgive, our prayer will not be heard. Understand that God refuses to answer us on the basis of mercy when we refuse to deal with others on the basis of mercy. But when we forgive, what God promises in Isaiah 58:9 will be true for us. "Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I." Isn't that wonderful? God will answer your prayer. Then, as God declares in Isaiah 58:14, "you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." There is tremendous joy in the Lord for those who live by these words of forgiveness, who remember what unlimited mercy has been poured out on us through Jesus Christ and who show the same mercy toward others. This joy is as abundant, as rich and as unlimited as the Lord's abundant forgiveness of us. It is my prayer that you would experience this forgiveness, practice this forgiveness and, in so doing, receive this joy.

The following psychological perspective views forgiveness as a process.

Back to Wikipedia: ]
"Although there is presently no consensus for a psychological definition of forgiveness in the research literature, agreement has emerged that forgiveness is a process and a number of models describing the process of forgiveness have been published, including one from a radical behavioral perspective.
Dr. Robert Enright from the University of Wisconsin–Madison founded the International Forgiveness Institute and is considered the initiator of forgiveness studies. He developed a 20-Step Process Model of Forgiveness. Recent work has focused on what kind of person is more likely to be forgiving. A longitudinal study showed that people who were generally more neurotic, angry and hostile in life were less likely to forgive another person even after a long time had passed. Specifically, these people were more likely to still avoid their transgressor and want to enact revenge upon them two and a half years after the transgression.
Studies show that people who forgive are happier and healthier than those who hold resentments. The first study to look at how forgiveness improves physical health discovered that when people think about forgiving an offender it leads to improved functioning in their cardiovascular and nervous systems. Another study at the University of Wisconsin found the more forgiving people were, the less they suffered from a wide range of illnesses. The less forgiving people reported a greater number of health problems.
The research of Dr. Fred Luskin of Stanford University, and author of the book "Learning to forgive" presented evidence that forgiveness can be learned based on research projects into the effects of forgiveness, giving empirical validity to the concept that forgiveness is not only powerful, but also excellent for your health.
In three separate studies, including one with Catholics and Protestants from Northern Ireland whose family members were murdered in the political violence, he found that people who are taught how to forgive become less angry, feel less hurt, are more optimistic, become more forgiving in a variety of situations, and become more compassionate and self-confident. His studies show a reduction in experience of stress, physical manifestations of stress, and an increase in vitality.
Popular recognition:
The need to forgive is widely recognized by the public, but they are often at a loss for ways to accomplish it. The Gallup poll revealed that the only thing that was effective was "meditative prayer".

Forgiveness as a tool has been extensively used in restorative justice programs, after the abolition of apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission (South Africa), run for victims and perpetrators of Rwandan genocide, the violence in Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and Northern Ireland conflict, which has also been documented in film, Beyond Right and Wrong: Stories of Justice and Forgiveness (2012)."
This next is from Dr. Eileen Borris:
What Does Freud Have to do with it - The Forgiveness Process that Is!
Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Although during Freud’s time psychology and spirituality were kept quite separate from one another that relationship began to change dramatically during the 1960’s. A “Third Force” known as Humanistic psychology came into existence, (with psychoanalysis and behaviorism being the first and second). From it emerged theorists such as Abraham Maslow, Carl Jung, and Carl Rogers. Their focus shifted from the psychoanalytical view that reduces human behavior and experience to unconscious sexual forces, to a view which respected our creative and spiritual strivings, placing a greater emphasis on the present and future rather than being chained to the past.

As Humanistic psychology further developed, a “fourth force” began to grow known to the field as transpersonal psychology. Transpersonal psychology began to explore the ‘S’elf, which they defined as our source of creativity and spirituality and beyond our personal self. This led humanistic and transpersonal psychology to look increasingly to spirituality as a guiding force for their investigations bringing them closer to the Eastern spiritual traditions, predominantly Hinduism or Buddhism.

With the advent of humanistic and transpersonal psychology we began to understand the struggles we were having in accepting our spirituality. As theories emerged they expanded that of Freud’s, opening up the possibility that within us is a divine spark or “Higher Self.” As these newer theories matured, Freud’s ‘ego’ took on a different meaning. Carl Jung who was a student of Freud defined the ‘ego’ as meaning ‘false self’ or the persona we put out for the world to see. This persona included our shadow, those parts of ourselves which we keep hidden. Jungian psychology then went beyond Freudian theory acknowledging that there is also a part within us that transcends our ‘ego’ and which makes up our higher nature. Unfortunately we have focused so much on creating who we think we should be, getting so wrapped up in our ego, that we have come to deny our divinity.

According to Jung, when we denied our spiritual nature we imposed an image on ourselves based on a false belief that it was possible to be separate from our spiritual source. In accepting this belief as fact, we created a conflict within our psyche. The psychological pain of this conflict is so deeply imbedded within us that we experience this state of separation as anxiety. Karen Horney, a prominent psychoanalyst, describes this anxiety in terms of feeling isolated and helpless in a world conceived as potentially hostile.

The psychological term used to describe basic anxiety is neurosis. Carl Jung considered neurosis a warning issued by a higher authority, reminding us that our personality is in need of broadening to ultimately include the central “power,” that part which embraces all of who we are."
Jung indicates that neurosis is a warning. There are several attractive symbologies begging to be suggested by this expression. I'm just spitballing here, but I suppose "separation as anxiety" might be a proper analog to "Paradise Lost". The "Higher Authority", from whom the warning is issued, might be thought of as our most advanced level of spirit consciousness. So, in this sense, might feelings of unforgiveness be recognized as warnings that Satan is at our elbow, because only the Devil would tempt us with bad thoughts. The thing about bad thoughts is that, more often than not, they make perfect sense. The only way to defend ourselves from this false truth is to recognize and remember always, that: BAD THOUGHTS JUST FEEL BAD!

The following is a collection of random quotes on the subject of forgiveness:
"Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much."
Oscar Wilde

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."
Mahatma Gandhi

"Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it."
Mark Twain

"I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note - torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one."
Henry Ward Beecher

"Forgiveness is the final form of love."
Reinhold Niebuhr

“One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.”
― Rita Mae Brown

“Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim--letting go of the pain and transforming oneself from victim to survivor.”
― C.R. Strahan

"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. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

“When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God’s light shines upon you.”
― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

“Listen. Slide the weight from your shoulders and move forward. You are afraid you might forget, but you never will. You will forgive and remember.”
― Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”
― Corrie ten Boom

 “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
“I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.”
“Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal.”
― C.S. Lewis

[Sidebar: Again, "THE WILL". Acts of Will are, to me, acts of God. To me, the declension is:

The Will and the Word are, to me, a unified first cause; and to get to the place of Divine Love and Divine Forgiveness, we must use the Will in us that is an extension of the Divine Will. From the Will comes all action, including the expurgation of sin.]

I am a sinner. I have been a sinner for a long time, and am quite practiced at it. However, I have recently experienced a renewed commitment to forgiveness, and, through this simple little process, I am freeing myself of so much emotional weight, I feel years younger. Would to God more old people would learn to get out from under the accumulated residual pains of their life. I say, "Today is a new day, and you see it through eyes of one who has suffered and learned--this is your advantage: by this time we MUST have figured out how to free ourselves from the bondage of the past!"

Let us pray: Jesus, from your example and your encompassing personality raise us to heights we can't imagine. The heights exist within us, within this tabernacle of blood and bone. We must prepare the tabernacle for the new day: which dawns every day more, in greater glorious splendor. Please give us courage and clarity of attention in order to do this. Amen.

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