Forgiveness…not a nicety for Christians but a tenet of our faith. It’s what Jesus expects of all His followers. What right do Christians have to claim to follow Christ if they don’t obey Jesus’ commandments? Am I truly a Christian if I don’t forgive?
Today’s message at New Hope Church was the fifth of seven on the Lord’s Prayer. Rusty Coram is really taking his time going through the prayer. Forgiveness (Matthew 6:12-15 NIV) was the lesson today:
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sines, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Forgiveness is a hard task to do. I think it’s generally human nature to want to dwell on the bad things that happen and feel sorry for oneself. I know I do. Someone has done me wrong; I have the right to feel wronged and hurt. I’m not going to forgive because I give up my human tendency to dwell on the negative. I’ll forgive once I’m done wallowing in the mire, flailing in the gunk.
But, that’s not what Jesus called me to do. I am to forgive people who hurt me. I don’t have to trust them anymore, but Christ calls me to forgive whoever hurt me. God will forgive me to the extent I forgive people. Whether it’s no forgiveness or half-hearted, that’s how God will forgive me. I receive forgiveness from God measure-for-measure according to how much I give it. And boy, just like any human, I need a lot of forgiveness from a holy God.
There’s another very dangerous aspect to me not forgiving. “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:10 NIV) Forgiving is what Christ calls me to do. It’s what he considers right. By not forgiving fully, I’m not doing what is right. Therefore, I’m not a child of God. Is it any wonder I don’t feel close to God at times?
I want to be a child of God. Therefore, I will forgive.