Can you forgive easily? Our natural instinct is self-protection and when we've been hurt or injured, we are rarely full of mercy, grace and understanding.  

Do you find the act of forgiving difficult? We expect others to forgive us, and ask weekly to be forgiven during our services, and we as Christians are expected to forgive.

Forgiveness is often difficult to do, but so necessary.  In the Bible its importance is shown in it being a very prominent theme.  And the Bible offers us clear insight and answers for many of the questions we might have about forgiveness. We are instructed to forgive as the Lord forgave us in Colossians 3:13- “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you”. And it’s not a one off act, Jesus answers Peter in Matthew 18:21-22 when he asks “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”. Jesus leaves us in no doubt that while forgiveness may not be easy for us. It is not a one-time choice and effectively we must live in a permanent state of forgiveness.  Jesus knew that even though we forgive, the memory of that hurt is still there and we need to free ourselves from the bitterness and resentment of the hurt and learn from our memories.  Forgiveness is important to Jesus, he forgave his persecutors on the cross, and against this example we must continue forgiving until the matter is settled in our heart.

Since forgiveness goes against our nature, we must forgive by faith, out of obedience to Jesus. whether we feel like it or not. We may really want revenge and retribution, but that is not our choice. We must trust God to handle that issue, so that the forgiveness will be complete. However, forgiveness is often a slow, painful process.  The good news is that when we do forgive, the Lord sets our hearts free from the anger, bitterness, resentment, and hurt that previously imprisoned us. We are the ones who suffer most when we choose not to forgive.

The best reason to forgive is because Jesus commanded us.  The Bible is clear that if we don't forgive, neither will we be forgiven Matthew in 6:14-16 tells us that “if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." We also forgive so that our prayers will not be hindered Mark in 11:25 tells us And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

There is a Forgiveness Day - June 26th, a Global Forgiveness Day on August 27th, and an International Forgiveness Day, on the first Sunday of August.  These days were set as times to forgive and to be forgiven, arguing that the world will be a better place for this day, Amen to that. Jesus would surely argue that every day is a day to forgive..

Some time ago Monica in one of her sermons introduced us to the Forgiveness Project which is a UK based charity that uses storytelling to explore how ideas around forgiveness, reconciliation and conflict resolution.

There is much to forgive. Outside of our personal issues the news reports modern atrocities and persecution daily. We are also looking back at past conflicts as anniversaries of events of the world wars are remembered.  Eva Kor explains at the trial of former Auschwitz guard Oskar Groening why she has forgiven her persecutors under much criticism from family and the public: “As long as we understand my forgiveness that the victim has a right to be free, you cannot be free from what was done to you unless you remove from your shoulder the daily burden of pain and anger and forgive the Nazis – not because they deserve it, but because I deserve it.”

We forgive out of obedience to the Lord. It is a choice, a decision we make. As we forgive we discover that the command is in place for our own good, and we will receive the reward of our forgiveness – freedom.

George Jevons

 

Forgiveness

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