by Tony Nester

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If You Forgive/If You Do Not Forgive
Spiritual Choices: 5 of 8
Text: Matthew 6:14-15
Tony Nester

Dr. Everett L. Worthington Jr., chairman of the department
of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, found
his mother bludgeoned to death by a burglar on New Year's
Eve of 1995.

"At first I was just stunned and shocked," he said. "As I
thought about it more and more, I got just furious. Then I
went away to my aunt's house to spend the night. I couldn't
sleep because I was so upset. I was just storming around."

Ironically Dr. Worthington had recently finished his book
entitled To Forgive Is Human (InterVarsity Press).

"There I was, fantasizing about killing somebody at three
or four o'clock in the morning. I guess I was just worn
out, when I thought, 'Who did I write that book for?' "

He began to walk through the process of forgiveness that he
had written about in his book, and by the end of the night,
his desire for revenge had been replaced with the sense of
mercy and peace that marks forgiveness, he said.

Dr. Worthington still wanted the men who killed his mother
to be caught and taken off the streets. His keen thirst for
revenge, however, was gone.

His ability to forgive his mother's killer was heightened
by his knowledge of the process of forgiveness, he said.
But knowledge and thinking are of the mind; forgiveness is
of the heart. The leap from thinking about forgiveness to a
softening of the heart is still a mystery, report those who
study forgiveness. "I think for me it was really a matter
of God's mercy and grace," said Dr. Worthington. "In this
particular instance, I was just given a big dose of that
grace. I wish it were that easy on everything. It's not."

Every time we pray The Lord's Prayer we're confronted with
the choice to forgive or not to forgive. The choice is to
step into or out of the stream of God's mercy and grace.

Immediately after asking for dail ...

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