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Saturday, April 1, 2023

The Bible and the Stoics on Forgiveness

Forgiveness is an essential aspect of our interpersonal relationships and our personal growth. Holding onto grudges and resentments can prevent us from moving forward in our lives, while forgiveness allows us to release the weight of the past and move towards a more peaceful and fulfilling future.

The Bible teaches us to forgive others as we have been forgiven by God, as seen in Colossians 3:13, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Forgiveness allows us to let go of grudges and resentments, and to move forward with grace and compassion towards others. It can also heal broken relationships and restore trust between family members. In addition to the biblical passage from Colossians, there is also a wealth of wisdom on forgiveness from ancient stoic philosophers, such as Epictetus. Epictetus once said, “It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” This quote speaks to the idea that sometimes, our preconceived notions and beliefs can prevent us from seeing the truth and from growing and changing as individuals. When it comes to forgiveness, this can mean letting go of our ego and our desire to be right or to hold onto our anger, in order to truly see the situation and the other person’s perspective.

By forgiving others, we can let go of our own biases and assumptions and seek to understand the other person’s point of view. This can lead to greater empathy, compassion, and understanding, and can allow us to build stronger and more meaningful relationships with others. Forgiveness is not just about letting go of the past, but about creating a better future for ourselves and those around us.

In summary, forgiveness is a crucial aspect of our relationships and personal growth. The biblical passage from Colossians 3:13 reminds us to forgive others as easily as we have been forgiven by God when we ask His forgiveness, while the stoic philosopher Epictetus emphasizes the importance of letting go of our assumptions and biases in order to truly understand and empathize with others.

By practicing forgiveness, we can let go of grudges and resentments, and move towards a more peaceful and fulfilling future.

Key Takeaways and Methods of Improvement:

  • Recognize the personal value in forgiving. Freeing yourself from anger and resentment, and the ability to restore trust and a severed connection with those who need your forgiveness.
  • Practice empathy. Try to see the situation from the perspective of the other person. Consider the fact that you don’t know everything they know or at least that they see the situation differently than you do.
  • Avoid holding grudges. Bring up past wrongs will keep you mired in a pit of stench and mud. What’s worse is that others may have moved on but that pit of bitterness will trap you where you are.
  • Consider your own faults. Your not perfect and it would do you well to remember that. Think about all the times you’ve been on the wrong end of a situation and consider how other people have forgiven you. Let the fact that Jesus died so you could be forgiven sink in – no one is asking you to die to forgive others, so it really is far easier to forgive than you think.
Paul Curtman is a veteran of the U. S. Marine Corps, an author, conference speaker, and statesman. For nearly 20 years, Paul has helped lead and develop leaders in the United States military, public service sectors, and business. Paul is a strong advocate for personal and economic freedom as well as the strength and integrity of the free market system. He is a Fellow at Club for Growth in Washington D.C. and currently lives in Missouri with his wife, Ruth, and their four children.


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