Choose Forgiveness

Recently Thom Brennaman, a baseball announcer for the Cincinnati Reds, said a slur over the television airways. His words were offensive to the community and others. He didn’t know that his microphone was hot at the time.

I had left the room of the baseball game he had been broadcasting and had just returned when he was made aware of his offence. Thom apologized and said, “This is not who I am, please forgive me if I have offended anyone.” He was immediately suspended by the Reds and taken off of the air. He hasn’t been heard from since.

Thom asked for forgiveness and offered a sincere apology. I trust forgiveness was offered to him by those offended.

We all have said and done things that have hurt others. We also have been hurt by the words spoken by others. The old saying “sticks and stone may break my bones but words will never harm me” is false. Words can sting like a hornet and leave an indelible mark for years to come.

 Jesus taught us a lot about forgiveness. He taught the disciples in the Lord’s Prayer to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In Mark 11:25 Jesus said “And whenever you stand up to pray, if you have something against anyone forgive so that your Father in heaven may forgive you of your wrong doings.” He taught that we should “forgive seventy times seven”; which is unlimited times. One of Jesus last words was, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

The unwillingness to forgive others causes a disconnect between you and God. Jesus said, “If you won’t forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:15

The late C.S. Lewis wrote about a teacher who brutalized him as a boy and how he grew up hating that teacher. Later in life, when he became a follower of Christ, he realized he had to forgive this teacher if he was going to be able to move on with his relationship with God. Lewis said, every time he tried to forgive this teacher he just couldn’t do it because the bitterness was just too great. He finally resolved to say the words “I forgive you” every day, whether he felt like it or not.

Then something began to happen. C.S. Lewis said, “Each time I said those words another stone was removed from the wall of bitterness I had built, until one day, I came to realize that the wall was no longer there.”

As long as we carry the anger, resentment and bitterness over the offense the longer we are tied to the offending person. We think we are harming others when we are hating others. It’s like burning down our house to get rid of the rats.

A study was done by the University of Michigan and the National Institute of Mental Health on forgiveness. They discovered that it’s difficult to forgive other people with whom you are angry. But when forgiveness does take place better health takes place. The more prone a person is to grant forgiveness, the less likely he or she will suffer from stress related illnesses. Forgiveness is the key to a healthy mind and heart. You will sleep better at night too.

Choose forgiveness instead of anger, resentment and bitterness. Life will go better for you if you do.

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Gene Wells