The Power of a Pardon

Guest Post by Joshua Graham

You’ve been wronged.  Someone has insulted you or hurt you and they don’t even know it.  Or worse, they know it but they are not sorry for what they’ve done.  Instead, they might even blame you!  Have you ever experienced anything like this?  Most likely, if it still hurts, if you aren’t talking with that person, the offense came from someone you cared about, even loved.

The worst part of it?  The offending person may have already moved on (may not have even known how they hurt you) and you are still in pain, unable to face them, or even other people who remind you of them.

The issue is forgiveness, not justice.

Justice:  Getting your satisfaction, your pound of flesh.  Making sure they pay for what they’ve done, or at the very least apologize for it and make it up to you.
Now, think about that person with whom you still have not reconciled.  An apology, restitution?  Fat chance, right?  Otherwise you’d have already reconciled by now.

The problem with justice:
  You need to have the power and authority to exact it.  Unless you are the judge, jury and executioner (yes, I know, sometimes some people act as though they are) you probably won’t be able to do anything about that person, if they refuse to see your point of view, or admit they’ve done wrong.  So how can you forgive someone who doesn’t want your forgiveness, who doesn’t think they need it?

Well, the truth is you need to forgive them, more than they need it from you.

You see, when you are offended by someone, it’s like a chain has bound you to that person.  And until you forgive them, you will be shackled to them always.  Your joy vanishes, bitterness takes root, and before you know it, it’s eating you alive.  When you forgive, it’s not that you suddenly develop amnesia.  But you will pardon that person “with prejudice” which in legal terms means that you won’t ever reopen and retry the case again. 

Grace: An unmerited pardon.  This pardon is clemency.  Not because the person deserves it, but because they need it.  You need it.  To be unbound to that person, you must break the chains of unforgiveness.  Only then can you realize that in doing so, you have set yourself free.  It takes a great deal of power to give this.  Not everyone can achieve this, and it is not something to be taken lightly.  It’s costly.  It takes almost a death to your own self, your own sense of what you are owed.  But in the end, you will be set free, and so will the offender.  It goes beyond justice, because it takes unconditional love to grant.

This doesn’t mean that you are to allow that person to harm you again.  By no means!  It simply means that you are releasing the offender from a debt that they cannot or will not  pay.  You are basically saying, you no longer owe me anything, and I am no longer seeking repayment from you.  I wish to continue to have a good relationship or friendship with you.

Is it easy?  By no means.  It goes completely against human nature.  There’s a reason for the saying “to forgive is divine.”

I know a man who was abused by his father and never got to reconcile before his old man died.  He carried the pain and side-effects of that abuse for many years, and it robbed him of joy, health, and peace.  This man later found his faith and redemption in Christ, and was then challenged to forgive others as his own sin had been forgiven by God.  This was a difficult thing to do, but my friend is a man of principle and refused to be a hypocrite.

One day, he went to his father’s grave and spent some time there in prayer.  Finally, he mustered up the strength to speak the words, even though his father was dead.  He said, “Dad, I forgive you.”

It was like a weight had been lifted from him that day.  He still can remember the abuse he received as a child, but it no longer plagues him.  He was set free the moment he released his father from a debt he could no longer pay because he was dead.

If you are waiting for your offender to pay up, you will wait a long time (maybe your whole life) before you can have peace.  Find the source of grace.  Know how you have been forgiven, and you’ll find a new perspective.  And you’ll be able to say, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Joshua Graham grew up in Brooklyn, NY, where he lived for the better part of 30 years. He holds a Bachelor and Master’s Degree and went on to earn his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.   During his time in Maryland, he taught as a professor at Shepherd College (WV), Western Maryland College, and Columbia Union College (MD).

Today he lives with his beautiful wife and children in San Diego.  Several of Graham’s short fiction works have been published by Pocket Books and Dawn Treader Press under different pen names.

Beyond Justice is now available in Trade Paperback.

You can visit his website at www.joshua-graham.com.

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Posted on October 21, 2010, in Featured Authors, Mystery/Thriller. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Thanks for having me on Blogging Authors today.If you feel the need to speak with someone about deep hurts and offenses that you need to forgive, I encourage you to seek a counselor, or a trusted member of the clergy to work with you through these issues. Again, you are releasing yourself first!BEYOND JUSTICE is a fictional work, a parable of forgiveness, redemption and faith.It is available as ebook for Barnes &Noble Nookat the Amazon Kindle storeAnd all other ebook formats at Smashwords.com

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