Jerry Levin was held hostage for six years in Beirut, Lebanon. In a diary describing his experiences, he recalled a most significant day: “For the first time I was able to pray for my captors. And more than that, I forgave them. I had to forgive them, because my captivity had forced me to take a spiritual journey. And in forgiving, I could proceed free of the baggage of hate and resentment and fear and revenge.”
Hatred or resentment is a strange thing. It may not harm directly the person who is hated. But it always damages the hater, spreading a lethal poison throughout the mind and body and robbing that person of peace.
We must forgive, not primarily for the sake of our enemies, but for our own sakes. It might save our lives.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)