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A Time for Everything
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”Matthew 6 v 14-
This must be one of the most challenging commandments of Jesus – to forgive. And yet He not asking anymore of us than He Himself did, hanging there on the cross, after being falsely accused, insulted and betrayed by His closest followers.
Forgiveness is not easy. There are times when the offence is trivial and a simple apology is enough. There are times when the offence is so great, that we are so angry that forgiveness not only seems impossible but quite frankly, ridiculous.
Jesus never said that forgiveness would be easy, and I can’t quite imagine it was easy for Him, the Son of God, holy and righteousness, bleeding on the cross, betrayed and rejected by those He came to save.
But a failure to forgive, or at least begin the process to forgive, is essential if we are not to be enslaved and imprisoned by our anger and bitterness, allowing the offence to affect us long after it happened. We continue to suffer while the perpetrator often gets on with life, oblivious to our hurt.
Nelson Mandela understood this, who said upon his release from prison, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if didn’t leave my bitterness behind I’d still be in prison.”
It is worth reminding ourselves, when confronted with the need to forgive, that we ourselves have hurt others by what we have said or done, or failed to do/say, and are in need of forgiveness ourselves. As Paul reminds us, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3 v 23.
Forgiveness does not say the offence is ok, ignores justice and does not require accountability for the actions. What forgiveness does is it begins to allow for relationships to be restored, for us to be released from anger and bitterness, and allows a new beginning to happen.
Jesus forgave us on the cross, thus paving the way for us to be reconciled with God. He knows the pain and will help us as we seek to forgive.
in the name of Christ, Dave Bishop (Rev)