Slavery of the mind commonly is more horrible than slavery of the body. Frequently, an enslaved mind enslaves the body. Damaged emotions and distorted perspectives condemn the body to an unfulfilled, joyless existence. Such a mind and body experience pain frequently and contentment rarely.

Everyone sees such slavery. Consider persons enslaved mentally and physically to bitterness, jealousy, envy, anger, or vengeance. Nothing in their lives is a source of joy. Their obsession forces these people to live in degrees of misery that are always evident. Minds enslaved to such emotions constantly express themselves in the persons' attitudes, words, actions, and body language. They never miss an opportunity to vent. Their slavery cannot be hidden.

The person enslaved focuses on the person who is the object of his or her bitterness, jealousy, envy, anger, or vengeance. The person is obsessed with his or her consuming emotion. The one who is the object of the contempt will never "pay" enough or suffer enough to right the perceived or actual wrong. The object of this contempt will never be free. He or she will be resented, despised, or hated as long as the enslaved one lives. With but one exception: forgiveness can liberate.

Two are enslaved by such negative emotions: the person who is the object of the emotions, and the person who possesses the emotions. The object is the partial slave. The possessor is the total slave. The possessor can be freed only by freeing the object.

The single greatest liberating force in human existence is forgiveness. Compassion acts on empathy. Mercy offers help. Kindness seeks to encourage. But forgiveness liberates--both the forgiver and the forgiven. Forgiveness is not the burden of my Christian responsibility. It is the gateway to my freedom. The past ceases to rule my present only when I forgive. Each time I forgive another, I free myself.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 26 January 1997

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