Resentment and the Choice of Forgiviness


“Burn me once shame on you, burn me twice, shame on me,” and so goes the old saying. Most would say it’s a wise saying. But as I reflect on it, I don’t think it is what God expects from us.

forgive forgiveness

Those words came to mind recently as someone asked me for a second chance. Immediately my mind went to “burn me once . . . .” I was ready to give him a piece of my mind, but I realized that if God dealt with me the way I was intending to deal with this man, I’d be dead by now. Way dead.

Then I thought of the words of Peter, the Apostle, as he asked Jesus a poignant question:

 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matt 18:21,22)

 While it might feel better to hold people accountable for their actions and to make them feel the weight of their transgressions by withholding your love or friendship, it’s not the right thing to do. And not just because it’s a principle in scripture. As I released my grip on my righteous indignation, I let go of the resentment I felt justified to carry along with me. Forgiveness, then, became more liberating to me than to its intended recipient.

I have walked with people who hold close in their hearts a lifetime filled with resentment and bitterness toward those who have wronged them. Some of whom have been dead for decades. Their conversation is filled with stories and memories of the painful price of the human condition.

I don’t want to live like that.

So what will I say or do if I get burned twice by the same person?  It’s shame on me, I guess. But I’d rather live with the culturally-imposed, artificial shame, than the corrosive bitterness that unforgiving produces.

When was the last time you chose to forgive someone?


  • Shantzster

    Good post Maurilio. I’ve needed forgiveness more times than I can count. Yet how can I expect to be forgiven if I have rendered none? I had to forgive someone that hurt me and my family for many years. It happened after this person’s death. I felt that I deserved to be resentful. Letting go and forgiving was difficult, but liberating. 

  • The Christian band Tenth Avenue North has a new & powerful song “Losing” on this very topic. The album will not be released until August but our local Christian radio station is already playing it. I was just “really” listening to it this morning before reading this. Your topic and the song are very complementary.

  • I know someone closely who has nurtured and fed her bitterness, disappointment and self-righteous resentment for so many years that her wounds have become her whole identity. Painful to watch someone you love choose to disappear this way.

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