World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts

Editor, Andrew Wilson


Forgiveness And Reconciliation

The scriptures advocate a large-hearted attitude of forgiveness and tolerance of others' mistakes, even when they cause offense or injury. Forgiveness is far preferable to holding a grudge, which would only fester and poison the spirit. It is preferable to exacting revenge--see Love Your Enemy, pp. 999-1002. Furthermore, we are advised to take responsibility for the grudges and injuries which others feel towards us. This is the first of several sections which deal with overcoming disputes, enmity, grudges, and prejudices in personal relationships.

Subvert anger by forgiveness.

Jainism. Samanasuttam 136

The best deed of a great man is to forgive and forget.

Islam (Shiite). Nahjul Balagha, Saying 201

Where there is forgiveness, there is God Himself.

Sikhism. Adi Granth, Shalok, Kabir, p. 1372

If you efface and overlook and forgive, then lo! God is forgiving, merciful.

Islam. Qur'an 64.14

The superior man tends to forgive wrongs and deals leniently with crimes.

Confucianism. I Ching 40: Release

If you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Christianity. Matthew 5.23-24

The Day of Atonement atones for sins against God, not for sins against man, unless the injured person has been appeased.

Judaism. Mishnah, Yoma 8.9

Show endurance in humiliation and bear no grudge.

Taoism. Treatise on Response and Retribution

You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Judaism and Christianity. Leviticus 19.18

Shalok, Kabir: On tolerance of the ill-behaved, see Tattvarthasutra 7.11, p. 827. Yoma 8.9 and Matthew 5.23-24: Not only will God not accept the offering of a hypocrite whose piety is a mask for robbery and injury--see Qur'an 2.264, p. 428--he also will not accept our offering if another person has a grievance against us, though we might think our actions were justified. Therefore we should take responsibility for others' grievances against us, and avoid all temptations to self-righteousness. Treatiese on Response and Retribution: Cf. Analects 14.11, p. 859.

Who takes vengeance or bears a grudge acts like one who, having cut one hand while handling a knife, avenges himself by stabbing the other hand.

Judaism. Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim 9.4

Moses son of Imran said, "My Lord, who is the greatest of Thy servants in Thy estimation?" and received the reply, "The one who forgives when he is in a position of power."

Islam. Hadith of Baihaqi

Better and more rewarding is God's reward to those who believe and put their trust in Him: who avoid gross sins and indecencies and, when angered, are willing to forgive... Let evil be rewarded by like evil, but he who forgives and seeks reconciliation shall be rewarded by God. He does not love the wrongdoers.... True constancy lies in forgiveness and patient forbearance.

Islam. Qur'an 42.36-43

In reconciling a great injury, Some injury is sure to remain. How can this be good? Therefore the sage holds the left-hand tally [obligation] of a contract; He does not blame others. The person of virtue attends to the obligation; The person without virtue attends to the exactions.

Taoism. Tao Te Ching 79

Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim 9.4: Cf. Vachana 248, p. 793; Digha Nikaya i.3, p. 793. Hadith of Baihaqi: Muhammad attributes this teaching to Moses. Qur'an 42.36-43: Vv. 36-37, 40, 43. The Qur'an exalts forgiveness as the way in which the best of people respond to being wronged, yet as a concession to human weakness, it allows that to take revenge is not a sin--see Qur'an 7.33, p. 415. Muhammad in the traditions consistently praises those who would forgive rather than take revenge. On Muhammad's own forgiving nature, see Hadith, p. 569. Ali likewise prohibited his followers from taking revenge for his murder; see Nahjul Balagha, Letter 47, p. 415. Cf. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 32, p. 858. Tao Te Ching 79: Cf. Matthew 7.1-5, p. 852; Dhammapada 252-53, p. 852, and related passages on not judging others before correcting oneself.

Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven."

"Therefore the kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, the lord ordered him to be sold, and his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, 'Pay what you owe.' So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."

Christianity. Matthew 18.21-35

When Jesus was crucified, Roman soldiers pierced him. And Jesus prayed for his enemies: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." [Luke 23:34] Even at the moment of death on the cross, Jesus was so earnest in forgiving. His very last act was motivated by his love for his enemies. He was the supreme form of giving--a paragon of love. The example of Jesus Christ is the absolute standard for all mankind. Just imagine an entire nation composed of Jesus-like men. What would you call it? The Kingdom of Heaven on earth--it could be nothing less.

Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73

Matthew 18.21-35: Cf. The Parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15.11-32, pp. 443f. Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73: On Jesus' and his disciples' attitude of forgiveness even at their deaths, see Luke 23.34, p. 522; Acts 7.60, pp. 768f. Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 2-21-80, p. 856.

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