What About Forgiveness?


“The miracle of the change of water into wine at the feast of Cana would not have seem so wonderful to the guests had they not remembered that what was turned into wine had been water. To forgive is to remember that what was water has become wine,”  wrote Felix Adler, found of the Ethical Culture movement.

Forgiveness is a bet on the future. For to forgive someone for the harm that he has done requires an act of faith, believing in the higher nature of people. To forgive is to believe two things: that people can have a change of heart and that they can learn from their mistakes.

Forgiveness is a moral act when the person who has done harm first admits her wrongdoing, is sincerely contrite and truly wants to do better in the future. Repentance is a prerequisite for being forgiven. And the belief in the high nature of the wrongdoer is a requirement for the transformation to take place.

Forgiveness is possible when hearts are open on both sides. When this happens, forgiveness becomes a spiritual bond. Both parties reach a deeper part of themselves in this act of mutual betterment.

In having faith in the regeneration of others we must, at the same time, acknowledge that we too are in need of spiritual renewal. Without admitting that we have made mistakes and have harmed others we become smug. The power of forgiveness is the recognition that each of us must move forward in the quest for a more humane life.

So a question to ask yourself is, Is there anything that you find unforgivable?

 

 

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2 thoughts on “What About Forgiveness?

  1. I like your notion that repentance, perhaps acts of restitution, are prerequisites for forgiveness. I have long been contemptuous of the notion of “cheap grace,” the facile confession of wrongdoing that permits the actor to feel a moment of righteousness in the confession and then go on to repeat the same transgression. Such acts of confession are too often theatrical displays rather than deeply reaching acts of contrition.

    You asks are any acts unforgivable. I say “yes,” Some acts are so violative and wanton, and products of premeditated evil, that they transcend forgiveness. Forgiveness in the face of torture or genocide may seem to mitigate the severity of the act. In other words, some acts are simply morally off the chart.

  2. I concur with J. Chuman’s words. I now recall Psalm 51 where King David asks for mercy from his his God. For me, this psalm never truly affected me like my then fellow Christians as David’s words seemed almost a trifle. At the same time, I’m aware of that water-into-wine experience of forgiveness. My most memorable days are private ones when I deeply felt forgiveness from a higher authority. My worst days are when I was misunderstood or accused without recognition of my contrition. Forgiveness is invaluable, yet there’s no way to ascertain its genuineness of the giver or the recipient. That’s another of life’s uncertainties that we have to accept or at least tolerate.

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