Essay number twenty-three: by The Midnight Writer
As I mentioned in the previous essay, I believe that forgiveness is second in power only to unconditional love. We don’t even begin to give forgiveness the attention it deserves.
Your entire life will change for the better when you learn to forgive all those who have trespassed against you. Once you forgive others, God will forgive you for the times you have trespassed against them. It is amazing how much your life will change for the positive when you place unconditional love and forgiveness in your heart.
Unfortunately forgiveness does not erase all responsibility. There are trespasses that will require punishment even after forgiveness. Without laws and punishment, society would fall into anarchy and destroy itself. We must not lose sight of the fact that, with or without forgiveness, actions have consequences.
We are told not to judge others but we must judge their actions if we are to live in a civilized society. The laws and punishments must be just and apply equally to all. Forgiveness allows us to welcome back into society those who have atoned for their transgressions.
I pray for the day when all people live with unconditional love, compassion and forgiveness. I know of nothing that could do more to reduce the dark forces in our lives.
Without forgiveness, the trespasses against you will weigh heavily on your mind. You will be tempted by anger and a desire for revenge. This will cause negative effects on both your body and your mind. Without seeking forgiveness for your own transgressions you will feel isolated and guilty. This will cause negative effects as well.
I believe that a person has no right to ask for forgiveness without repenting and making an honest attempt to atone for what they have done. Your appeal for forgiveness should first be to God and not to the victim of your transgression. Because we all have a free will there will be people and circumstances that will not allow forgiveness without punishment. You will need to find the courage to accept it as a part of your atonement.
The most important thing to remember about forgiveness is that it is about self-healing. If you refuse to forgive, you are not hurting your transgressor as much as you are hurting yourself. Feelings of hatred, anger and vengeance will steer you toward the dark side and will even have a negative effect on your health.
To better understand the relationship between you and a transgressor I will offer you an example. Assume that someone steals from you. You can forgive that person for stealing from you but you cannot forgive him for being a thief. That level of forgiveness can only come from God. It can only be granted after the thief has repented and made an honest effort to atone for what they have done.
Civil laws and appropriate punishment offers the transgressor the opportunity to repent and atone for what they have done. Whether or not the transgressor accepts responsibility and seeks to repent is between the transgressor and God. Society can capture and punish a transgressor but only God can change that person’s heart. All we can do is try to guide the person toward redemption.
There are some crimes so heinous that society cannot allow that person to remain free. That does not give society the right to use murder as a form of punishment. No matter how heinous the crime may be, the criminal is still a child of God. The death penalty removes all hope for that person to repent. For this reason I am against the use of the death penalty. For these criminals a punishment of life in prison with no hope of parole should be the most severe punishment.
I also believe that prison is for punishment. It is not for re-habilitation. Stop coddling prisoners. They have given up their civil rights by breaking the law. Allow the prisoner to be punished and then offer them compassion and re-habilitation during a parole period.
I do not believe in being cruel nor do I believe in letting the guilty go unpunished. I believe in using common sense and compassion in dealing with our transgressors. We all fall short of God’s expectations. We all commit transgressions. Let us hope that we are treated with compassion, common sense and forgiveness when we are judged.
In closing, I will combine two phrases: Judge not lest you be judged and Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Judge others as you would have them judge you if you were the transgressor.