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  • Writer's pictureW. Austin Gardner

Total Forgiveness 2

Love is a choice. Total forgiveness is a choice. It is not a feeling—at least at first—but is rather an act of the will. It is the choice to tear up the record of wrongs we have been keeping. We clearly see and acknowledge the evil that was done to us, but we erase it—or destroy the record—before it becomes lodged in our hearts. This way resentment does not have a chance to grow. When we develop a lifestyle of total forgiveness, we learn to erase the wrong rather than file it away in our mental computer. When we do this all the time—as a lifestyle—we not only avoid bitterness, but we also eventually experience total forgiveness as a feeling—and it is a good feeling.

Anyone who truly forgives, however, does not gossip about his or her offender. Talking about how you have been wounded with the purpose of hurting your enemy’s reputation or credibility is just a form of punishing them. Most of us do not talk about what happened for therapeutic reasons, but rather to keep our enemy from being admired. We divulge what that person did so others will think less of them. That is an attempt to punish—which is usurping God’s arena of action.

And yet the funny thing is, had I the light and knowledge I now have on this subject, I might never have told Josif in the first place. If you share your pain and offenses with someone else, examine your motives and be sure you aren’t doing it to punish anyone by making them look bad. As Iago said in William Shakespeare’s Othello:

Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;

’Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;

But he that filches from me my good name

Robs me of that which not enriches him,

And makes me poor indeed.

But graciousness is withholding certain facts you know to be true, so as to leave your enemy’s reputation unscathed. Graciousness is shown by what you don’t say, even if what you could say would be true. Self-righteous people find it almost impossible to be gracious; they claim always to be after “the truth,” no matter the cost. Total forgiveness sometimes means overlooking what you perceive to be the truth and not letting on about anything that could damage another person.

R. T. Kendall, Total Forgiveness: When Everything in You Wants to Hold a Grudge, Point a Finger, and Remember the Pain - God Wants You to Lay It All aside (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2010).

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