By May-Lee Melki

Development Officer | LSESD

In a culture of shame and honor, like ours, that leaves little room for restoration and redemption we tend to overlook the forgiveness that we have freely received from God when relating to others. With a still active tribal mindset, our extension of forgiveness seems to be pre-determined by unspoken codes of conduct set forth by cultural constructs. The lip service that we sometimes grant to ‘the other’ is often void of a process of cleansing the heart and of healing broken relationships with God and our neighbor.

Raised by those who were once children of a 15-year civil war, I am part of an entire generation that is still struggling with inherited bitterness and resentment. However, I am also blessed by the opportunity to witness what freedom looks like when God-fearing individuals, communities and people groups are reconciled with God first, themselves second and their neighbor third.

This reminds us that asking and receiving His forgiveness with vulnerability and humility is the only way to break a destructive cycle of self-pity, anger and violence. True forgiveness flows and stems from a heart that has tasted and is satiated with God’s mercy and grace! Kenneth Bailey writes in his book, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes, “Through forgiveness, the bitterness, anger, hatred, and desire for revenge are drained out of the struggle and the person contends with those for whom he or she may now be able to feel genuine compassion… After the offered forgiveness, the struggle for justice continues, but now there are things the person will not do. The day of victory or defeat will not become a day of vengeance.”

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