The Importance of Forgiveness
"If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins."
It's an amazing thing to be forgiven by God. Because of his grace poured out through Christ, we can be forgiven for all of our sins, no matter how horrendous they might be. What a wonder!
Yet when we receive God's forgiveness, we do more than rejoice in our blessing. We also become people who pass on forgiveness to others. "Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others" (Col. 3:13). God's forgiveness enables us to forgive others even as it sets the standard for our forgiveness.
Jesus emphasizes the necessary connection between divine and human forgiveness. You can't have one without the other. This means one of the primary marks of the Christian will be a willingness to forgive others generously. People will know we are Christians, not only by our love, but also by our forgiveness.
RELATED BIBLE PASSAGES: Psalm 103; Matthew 18:23-35; Colossians 3:12-13; Ephesians 4:31-5:2
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Are you a forgiving person? What makes it hard for you to forgive people who have wronged you? What helps you to forgive? Are there people in your life whom you need to forgive, even today?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, little means more to me than your forgiveness. When I consider how much I have sinned against you, both in deed and in thought, I am astounded by the fact that you forgive me. Through Christ, you wipe my slate clean. I have a fresh start with you, because of your forgiveness. Hallelujah!
Today I'm reminded that it isn't enough merely for me to receive your forgiveness. I need to give away what I have so freely received. When others wrong me, I should be quick to forgive. Sometimes I can do this. But sometimes, especially when I have been painfully wronged, I find it hard to forgive. Holding a grudge feels safe. Bitterness seems only fair. So I ask for your help, Lord. Remind me of how you have forgiven me. Let your Spirit stir up in me the will to forgive.
May I be known, not only as one who has been forgiven, but also as one who forgives, so that people might see your presence in me. Amen.