J. Grant Swank, Jr.

Forgiving enemies has to be one of the hardest disciplines of the Christian life. Yet it’s the most liberating for it costs so much.

When confronted with injustice, betrayal, meanness, gossip, slander and all the other demonic attacks which can be set in motion to undo a reputation, one wants to settle the score–right now!

Waiting for God to take care of things can be terribly anguishing. Waiting for judgment day can be just as unsettling. Waiting for life to move on and the whole episode to pass quietly can seem intolerable.

Therefore, we try so hard to take matters into our own hands, to level the enemy in one way or another.

Have we remembered that one of the ways of leveling the whole situation is forgiving the enemy? Jesus admonished His children: “Pray for those who persecute you, despitefully use you.”  Jesus followed through with His own counsel: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

Further, in Jesus’ prayer he included: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

What happens when we forgive the enemy?

*   You realize that you’ve placed the burden of life upon God. He then has to carry your enemy.

*  You realize that you’ve attacked another, hurt another. You might not have done what your enemy did to you; but you’ve done something self-centered against someone at some time. Therefore, it’s time to take the beam out of your eye by forgiving your enemy.

*  You begin to come to peace with the situation. Until then, you stew and stew. But when you start to forgive, all that scheming stops. It gives way to your own inner peace.

*  You enlarge your scope to take in the next positive venture of your life. If you continue to hate, to harbor ill will, you will not have the energy of soul to move on. When you dispel the darkness, you then can open wide the windows of the soul for heaven’s rays.

*  You come back on track. As long as one wakes up every morning to do in the enemy, one stays off track. It is when you forgive your enemy that you find your balance once more.

*  You then open your spirit to the Spirit of Jesus. He forgave. You want to be like your Savior. Forgive like Jesus did.

*  You can feel good about who you are. As long as you hem in the nasty plots against your foe, the more you feel less than noble. In fact, you don’t feel that noble at all. But when you extend forgiveness toward, then it is that the spirit of greatness begins to settle upon your own soul.

*  You come upon your own inner healing. Fighting back eats away at all that’s good inside you.  Forgiving the enemy is one of those healing balms that God provides His spiritually adventurous offspring.

*  You accept life as it is. Life here is not heaven. We are in a spiritually fallen world. Jesus said that we would be hated as He is hated. Jesus warned that offenses would come. Jesus said that “sufficient unto the day is the evil therefore.” Therefore, realistic Jesus has cautioned us to expect the day to have some barb in it. Getting real is one of the wisest moves you can make.

* You have time to love God with all that is within you and then love your neighbor as yourself, thus fulfilling the law.

*  You will enjoy His comfort. Jesus was slandered, spat upon, kicked, mocked, spiked to the tree. When you are maligned, you are in good company. Consequently, your Friend knows how to comfort those children of grace who go through difficult times because of others’ meanness. Let Him put His arms around you.

*  You show others how to live victoriously. There are others watching your life.

*  You may win your enemy over to your God. Who knows? It’s happened before; it can happen again.

*  You can go on with life knowing that there are no barnacles attached to the bottom of your ship. There is cleanness throughout. You don’t have any dangling matters to take care of prior to your own judgment. Be holy in His sight.

*  You own life itself when you forgive your enemy. As long as you permit your enemy inside your head, he owns a part of you–a significant part of you. That’s sad. Then let forgiveness take care of that intrusion.

When you came to Jesus, He forgave you of all that you had done wrong. Now it’s your time to forgive others.


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