What is a simple seven letter word that is very hard to do? Forgive. No matter how many times we are told that forgiveness is an act that benefits the forgiver more than the person being forgiven, we still often view it as a tough task, usually because of our pride. Not only can refusing to forgive be detrimental to us physically, but also spiritually.
Forgiveness is not an option in living a Christian lifestyle, but rather a requirement. Colossians 3:13, our scripture text, actually commands us to forgive as God has first forgiven us. It does not say that we are allowed to forgive sometimes, depending on what that person has done to us. We are to always forgive – period.
One of the most poignant stories of forgiveness for me in modern times was when Pope John Paul II forgave the man who tried to assassinate him in 1981. The shooter fired many shots, four of which hit the Pope. He lost a great deal of blood but survived. The shooter was caught and sentenced to life in prison. Two years later, the Pope visited the would-be assassin in prison and forgave him. The two emerged from the visit as friends. But, the Pope even went further. He requested that the shooter be pardoned, and he eventually was, and became a Christian.
Now that is forgiveness in action!