Forgiveness is Paramount
Forgiveness is hard for many of us. Reconciliation with family members, co-workers, and even best friends; sometimes, never happens. We try to teach our children to be forgiving when they’re young, but too often, we struggle with it in our own teenage and adult years. The world has plenty of advice on this subject; much of it leading to pain and despair. Conversely, the advice offered by Jesus found in the Bible, is often difficult to swallow; but it’s only when we offer forgiveness, that our minds and our hearts can truly be at peace.
Jesus’ example on the Cross, teaches much about real forgiveness. Paul writes in Romans 5: 8: ‘God demonstrated his own love for us; while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’ That’s a rare expression of forgiveness that we should all remember each time we take Communion. It should be in our mind and our heart continually. The world and satan do not agree with God’s idea regarding forgiveness; Satan would have no use for anything that attempts to heal and restore relationships. Real forgiveness only gets in his way; he would rather promote hate and anger, to fan the flames of discontent. He would rather have you seek revenge when someone hurts you, by hurting them back.
On the other hand, God’s Word tells us in Ephesians 4: 32, to ‘Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling, slander, and every form of malice; being kind and compassionate to one another; forgiving each other, just as Christ has forgiven you.' And in Matthew 6: 14; we are told to ‘forgive others when they sin against us, so your heavenly Father will be able to forgive you.' BUT IF YOU DO NOT FORGIVE OTHERS OF THEIR SINS, YOUR FATHER-IN-HEAVEN WILL NOT FORGIVE YOU OF YOUR SINS. Forgiveness is not something that human beings do well; it’s much easier to hold on to bitterness than to freely offer up forgiveness. I would repeat Jesus’ Words from Matthew… ‘if we do not forgive others who transgress against us, our Father-in-Heaven will not forgive us when we sin against Him.'
That’s a sobering reminder of what God expects from Christians that strive to live ‘Christ-centered Lives’. It’s important to understand that when sin and transgression have been severe, forgiveness and reconciliation can take a long time. Fortunately, we worship a patient God. Let us remember Peter’s question in Matthew 18; when he asks Jesus how often he should forgive someone. Surprisingly, Jesus tells him that seven times is not enough; but seventy times seven is a good start.
I know from experience, that when I do not offer forgiveness in a timely manner, it starts to eat away at my relationship with God’s Spirit. So, get it over quickly and with and move forward with your life. And remember, all sin is against God, and He is always ready to accept our forgiveness, no matter how often we need to do so… but only when we have first forgiven others of their transgressions. Nothing else has ever worked to God’s satisfaction.
In the final analysis, who are we trying to please; God or the world? … something to think about. Here’s a short prayer to live by… ‘Heavenly Father, thank you for your patience and mercy when I need forgiveness. I promise to forgive quickly when others trespass against me and thank you for your love and patience in my life… in Jesus’ name I pray… AMEN