Friday, March 20, 2009

The Madness of a Focus of Unforgiveness and Revenge

“A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green”
–Francis Bacon.

We hear stories every now and then of cantankerous mothers and fathers who can never forgive their adult children for something they’ve done--or the reverse, the children not forgiving the parents; for old wounds. We see it in every sphere of life, but tragically, it’s within the family (and possibly the church) that it stings most.

I believe the above quote evokes much thought in its pure simplicity but profound and lasting message. If we focus on revenge continually and actively avoid the process of forgiveness we’ll actually only harm ourselves; our wounds to endure, and bitterness will be our end.

Jesus said the following, making the point that we have a choice as to where we place our focus, and that focus will have a lasting impact on our heart (and soul):

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”
–Luke 12:34 (TNIV).

The ability to bear a grudge is an inherent fault I’m sure we’re all born with. It must surely be the default mould that comes with our broken birth into a broken world. If we learn no better it will stay with us all through life, leading us inevitably to a bitter end.

Grudges are difficult creatures to bear, though some simply insist on them. These undealt-with grudges grow malignantly and next thing there’s an ulcer, or perhaps worse, cancer. They eat the soul of a person away; a self-consuming and self-defeating act of wilful, stubborn pride. Yes, everyone is exposed.

If we want good things in our experience of life, like joy and peace, we have to nurture a healthy heart, by focusing on the right treasure. If we’re constantly thinking about how others have wronged us, our hearts will conform as they always do; discontent, dissatisfaction with life, and dis-ease will be the inevitable result.

As Jesus alluded to, we have a choice. We need to choose today what we’re wedded to--forgiveness[1] and the resultant freedom or revenge and the resultant torment... difficult choice... NOT!

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[1] Sure, forgiveness means letting the other person off the hook; it’s freedom for all. The grace we issue to people in these circumstances is most often a case of blessing that quickly returns to us. It requires faith to forgive; faith often surprises us in the neatest ways with what it returns. The faith of forgiveness is like a ‘lucky dip,’ where we at times stand to get something good for basically very little personal cost.

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