Forgiveness is never easy. Webster defines forgive as giving up resentment of something or to cease to feel resentment against an offender.
It is easy to forgive someone who accidentally does something to you, or to forgive a loved one for something. But to forgive an enemy or someone who has done something horrific? That is scandalous. Stan Guthrie in a January column in Christianity Today talks about this scandalous forgiveness. Using the example of the 10 Amish girls killed last year, Ted Haggard's unfaithfulness and cover up and finally Corrie ten Boom's forgiveness of her former Nazi guard.
Quick forgiveness is sometimes called cheap grace, it is important to forgive though, because Jesus has provided forgiveness for us, and it didn't come cheap. We can never pardon a sin or change what has happened, but we can change our circumstances and perspective by beginning the process of forgiveness and allowing redemption to flow from us. I like this from Guthrie's article, he is actually quoting Lewis Smedes', a Fuller Theological Seminary professor of theology and ethics, definition of forgiveness: "forgiveness is an inner response to evil that (when possible) finds fulfillment in outward reconciliation."
I like that because it notes the two dimensions of forgiveness, the inner and outer. We can offer forgiveness, but true and ultimate forgiveness includes reconciliation. Our world needs less cheap grace and more reconciliation. When Christ reigns supreme in our lives we can offer forgiveness and reconciliation that will change the world. The Amish massacre was a great example of a community offering forgiveness and grace, and the world noticed.
If we continue in the same way, we can impact and change our relationships and community, through forgiveness.