American Association of Christian Counselors
American Association of Christian Counselors

The Deep Oil of Forgiveness

Tim Clinton, Ed.D.


 

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it”
Mark Twain

 

“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”
Jesus Christ

 
 

albert-dera-248791In his book “Unconditional” Brian Zahnd asks this question, “So what is your story?  Who has been cruel to you?  Perhaps bitterly cruel.  What injustice have you suffered?  How have you been mistreated?  Perhaps miserably so.  Who has cheated you? Abused you? Lied to you? Lied about you?  Maybe it was last week.  Maybe it was a lifetime ago.”[i]

It is interesting to look at Jesus’ words in Mark 11 concerning interpersonal forgiveness, “And, whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25 ESV) Christ is in effect saying that our vertical relationship with God is much more related to our horizontal relationships with those around us, than we would like to admit.

As our personal creator, Jesus understands how we are made.  Not just spiritually, but physiologically as well.  Our bodies simply are not fashioned to carry the burden and weight of unforgiveness.  Psychiatrist Loren Olson recently noted that “those more inclined to pardon the transgressions of others have been found to have lower blood pressure, fewer depressive symptoms and, once they hit late middle age, better overall mental and physical health than those who do not forgive easily.” [ii]

Forgive easily?  Is that even possible?  We all have heard someone say (or maybe even said it ourselves), “I will forgive, but I will never forget!”  Ev Worthington, whose elderly mother was brutally beaten, raped, and left alone to slowly bleed to death by an enraged burglar, gives personal insight into this.  “Sometimes people have a hard time admitting that they aren’t forgiving a person who hurt them. They think that forgiving is a matter of saying certain words –‘I forgive you’, but there is a heart by-pass.  Being able to say the words is a step, but the Lord really wants our hearts touched.”

At the core, forgiveness is releasing a debt.  Choosing not to harbor the hurt and anger anymore.  Opening the door for healing – maybe even reconciliation.

roberta-sorge-142255Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it’s always necessary.  And it only takes one to forgive.  When you get to the heart of the matter, our ability to forgive is rooted in the fact that we have been forgiven by Christ, in God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20 ESV)

All relationships demand the deep oil of forgiveness.  When we forgive it breaks the poisonous cycle of revenge, and allows the broken to walk in peace.  The Jesus way is always the way of forgiveness.  We forgive to free ourselves and to get our lives back. His way is the way that gives the future hope….a hope that can turn your life around.

 

[i] Zahnd, B., (2010). Unconditional? The Call of Jesus to Radical Forgiveness. Orlando, FL: Charisma House.

[ii] Olson, L. A., (2011, March/April). Forgiveness: You Life Depends Upon It. Family Therapy Magazine, 10(2), 28-31

 


 

g-timTim Clinton, Ed. D., LPC, LMFT (The College of William and Mary) is President of the nearly 50,000-member American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), the largest and most diverse Christian counseling association in the world. He is Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Care, and Executive Director of the Center for Counseling and Family Studies at Liberty University. Licensed in Virginia as both a Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist, Tim now spends a majority of his time working with Christian leaders and professional athletes. He is recognized as a world leader in faith and mental health issues and has authored over 20 books including Breakthrough: When to Give In, When to Push Back. Most importantly, Tim has been married 36 years to his wife Julie and together they have two children, Megan, who recently married Ben Allison and is practicing medicine in dermatology, and Zach, who plays baseball at Liberty University. In his free time, you’ll find him outdoors or at a game with family and friends.

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