Bob Tamasy: Escaping The Prison Of Unforgiveness

Monday, June 3, 2019 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

The story is told about the couple that decided they needed to get a divorce. Counseling with their pastor, the husband was asked, “Why do you want a divorce? Does your wife beat you up?” “No way,” he responded. “I’m always up at least half an hour before her.” “Well,” continued the perplexed pastor, “do you have a grudge?” “Yeah,” he said, “it’s big enough for two cars, but what’s that got to do with this?” Exasperated, the clergyman finally said, “So what’s the problem?” With arms folded, the husband smugly replied, “We just can’t seem to communicate!”

Unfortunately, when it comes to conflict and divisions, many people do trace it to grudges they hold toward others. Like ships passing in the night, they harbor those grudges.

It’s truly unfortunate, especially because in many instances, the most grievous victim of grudges – the unwillingness to forgive – is the individual clutching the grudge in a death grip. Speaking recently on the topic, author and pastor Alistair Begg observed, “Forgiveness is setting a prisoner free – when it turns out that prisoner is you.”

Putting it into another metaphor, holding onto a grudge or refusing to forgive another person is like drinking poison and expecting the person you’re mad at to die.

Although I don’t there’s been a scientific study done to prove it, I suspect much of the hostility we witness in the world around us is due at least in part to unforgiven wrongs, grudges that have been nursed for a long time. The musical, “The Sound of Music,” taught that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, but just a drop or two of bitterness can kill even the healthiest of relationships.

Hebrews 12:15 speaks to that directly, admonishing, See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” And this word, “defile,” offers another vivid image for the negative and often long-lasting effects of unforgiveness.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean condoning wrongs that have been committed, whether in deed or in word. Nor does it mean we must force ourselves to forget those wrongs. Forgiving, however, does mean refusing to let anger and animosity imprison us, or “defile” our spirits, not only toward the offending party but also to many others we encounter from day to day.

There’s a second important reason for doing what might seem impossible by extending forgiveness to someone who doesn’t deserve it. As the apostle Paul exhorted his readers, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13). Keep in mind, forgiveness is something that none of us deserves.

How did the Lord forgive each of us? He stretched out His arms, allowing His hands and feet to be impaled on a cross, and declared, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). At that moment He might have been referring specifically to those responsible for putting Him on the cross, but if we’re honest, we must acknowledge we each shared in that responsibility.

So when we forgive, we’re in effect freeing ourselves from the prison of pain, anger and negativity. We’re recognizing that no one could wrong us as much as we have wronged the God who has provided us with His forgiveness.

And there’s one more reason for consciously resolving to forgive others even when it seems impossible. If our goal is to become more and more Christlike, more “godly,” then forgiveness can’t be excluded from the equation. As a wise man has stated, “We’re most like beasts when we kill each other; we’re most like men when we judge each other; we’re most like God when we forgive each other.”

If we bring up the excuse, “Well, I just can’t do that,” Jesus understands. He told His followers, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). But as Paul wrote, drawing from much personal experience, “I can do everything through him (Christ) who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

As the Lord has shown me more times than I could ever remember, whenever I decide “I can’t!” He’s quick to respond, “Yes, I know – but I can. Through you.”

- - - -

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.


Bob Tamasy: Hating to Exercise, Loving To Have Exercised

Men's Discipleship Conference Is June 29 At Greater Tucker Missionary Baptist

Faith, Science And Climate Solutions Tour Is In Chattanooga Monday


More than 20 years ago, after my first trip to Europe where I walked for miles every day, I decided to continue my new habit by power-walking several times a week. Then, after my open-heart surgery ... (click for more)

Greater Tucker Missionary Baptist Church, 1115 N. Moore Road in Chattanooga, announces their Men's Discipleship Conference on Saturday, June 29 from 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Breakfast and lunch ... (click for more)

Rev. Susan Hendershot, president of Interfaith Power & Light, and Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, will speak at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Chattanooga ... (click for more)


Church

Bob Tamasy: Hating to Exercise, Loving To Have Exercised

More than 20 years ago, after my first trip to Europe where I walked for miles every day, I decided to continue my new habit by power-walking several times a week. Then, after my open-heart surgery in 2006, I resolved that if I came through the operation successfully, I would do everything my doctors recommended for recovery, including exercise. Ever since, I’ve been engaging ... (click for more)

Men's Discipleship Conference Is June 29 At Greater Tucker Missionary Baptist

Greater Tucker Missionary Baptist Church, 1115 N. Moore Road in Chattanooga, announces their Men's Discipleship Conference on Saturday, June 29 from 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Breakfast and lunch are provided. Speakers include Pastor Marcellus Barnes, Pastor Alfred Johnson, Pastor Ron King, Pastor Terry Ladd, Brother Jerry Marshall, Pastor Emeritus Paul A. McDaniel and Pastor Willie ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Tyler Reid Charged With Attempted Murder Of Step-Brother At Ooltewah Home; Said Shooting Victim "Has A Demon"

Authorities have charged 21-year-old Tyler Reid with shooting his step-brother in the head early Tuesday morning at a home in Ooltewah. John "Dee" Hayes Jr., 24, had injuries that were called life-threatening. Reid was charged with attempted first-degree murder. A deputy said when he arrived at the home in the 9000 block of Heatherloch Lane he found Reid sitting on a couch ... (click for more)

Douglas Holmes, 35, Shot And Killed On Portland Street After Argument Over Fake Money; Jeremy Sutton, 20, Charged

Douglas Holmes, 35, was shot and killed early Monday morning on Portland Street after what police said was an argument over fake money. Jeremy Sutton, 20, has been charged with criminal homicide after police said he admitted to shooting the victim 7-8 times after initially shooting him. At approximately 12:23 a.m., Chattanooga Police responded to the 2000 block of Portland ... (click for more)

Opinion

HCDE's Proposed Budget AKA Social Experiment

Calling for a “hope and change” budget, Hamilton County’s Department of Education wants you to pay drastically more in property taxes to fund its hopes of changing our school system to an all-inclusive community and behavioral center. Moreover, HCDE intends to spend over one half billion taxpayer dollars next year, much of which will fund increases in administration and staff rather ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: One Vote In Nashville

Let’s just suppose, if only for the sake of supposing, that when the Hamilton County Commission votes tomorrow on a 34-cent tax increase on top of County Mayor Jim Coppinger’s proposed FY 2020 budget, the vote might end 5-4 against. We’ve just witnessed a full month with lively gnashing of teeth that has centered on the radical difference of opinions, this on what the county’s public ... (click for more)