To forgive is divine

By David WilliamsBy David Williams

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne”

These are the introductory lyrics to a song sung around the world as the clock strikes midnight, bringing in each new year. I don’t know all the song’s words, and I marvel at the people who do, but nevertheless it doesn’t stop the song and the haughty reflective affect that it has on me. It seemed to suggest forgetting, forgiving and loving all at the same time. Steps I know I must to take in order to move forward. Paul wrote, “forgetting the past, I press toward the mark and the high calling in Christ Jesus.” We are also told in the Lord’s Prayer “to forgive others as we would have them to forgive us.” I am persuaded that our inability or unwillingness to forgive may be the biggest obstacle that prevents forward progress.

For some of us, it has gone on for so long and runs so deeply that we have grown accustom to it. We are ensnared and don’t even know it. I once heard Buffy Stokes say as she was addressing a gym filled with territory streetwise youth, “Hating someone is like drinking poison and expecting it to make the other person sick.”

In his book “Don’t Park Here,” C. William Fisher wrote, “One of the most persistent warnings in traffic and in life is the warning of the danger of parking, of resting, of settling down, and yet men go right on parking where they should not.”

And, of course, they pay the penalty in arrested development, stunted personalities, narrowed wisdom and limited lives.

Life is made up of hurts and conflicts that arise daily in our personal relationships. It is only the unresolved conflicts, the harboring of grudges and resentments, which wreak havoc on spirit and mind and finally upon flesh. Every unresolved conflict produces its own wound. If the scar tissue isn’t planted somewhere upon or within the body, then it is hidden inside the heart.

I recall as a child watching one of my favorite television shows, “Kung Fu.” At some point in the show, the protagonist always would have a conflict with a narrow-minded cowboy, which would cause him to have a flashback.

That’s what not letting go does. It causes us to reflect and bow often to the idol god of our hurts and pains. We cannot enjoy today because we are flashing back to painful yesterdays. Bow often enough and hate will set in.

Dr. S. I. McMillan describes hatred as, “the moment I start hating a man I become his slave. I cannot enjoy my work because the man I hate controls my thoughts … the man I hate may be miles away from my bedroom, but more cruel than a slave driver he whips my thoughts into such a frenzy that my inner spring mattress becomes a rack of torture.

“I really must acknowledge that I am a slave to every man on whom I pour out my wrath.”

In the new year, I want to take God at His word. I want to be thankful for each day, ready to forgive and ready to ask for forgiveness, and I want love my fellow man.

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