Saturday, January 28, 2012

Why Forgive?

Jesus is telling a story about a man who was forgiven a great debt by the king, but then refused to forgive another a much smaller debt.  When the king found out, he called the servant he forgave back before him and re-applied the debt.  This story in Matthew 18 concludes with these sobering words;

  32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

   35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Jesus saved his harshest words, not for sins of the flesh, but for sins of the spirit.  All humans commit sins of the flesh.  This does not lessen them, but it makes the universal.  Sins of the spirit, however, can only be committed by those who have committed themselves to live under the direction of the Holy Spirit having trusted in Christ.  It is a bit ironic, but true that only those who have committed themselves to following Christ are capable of the most destructive kinds of sin. 

There is no long explanation needed here.  A lack of forgiveness does not accomplish justice.  It does not satisfy our need for revenge or to make things right.  It does not harm the other person, make them accountable, or lead them to a place of regret, sorrow, remorse or repentance.  All it does is destroy the one who will not forgive. 

We can chose to hold on to pain and resentment and anger, and let life slip away.  Or we can forgive, and in doing so, choose life. 

One last thought here.  Who do you need to forgive?  Let God set you free and forgive that person.  If they are aware of the offense, call them and let them know you forgive them and are putting that episode in life behind you.  Make that call and have that talk.  Let me also ask, who is it that you need to go to for forgiveness?  Who have you wronged?  Maybe you need to have a hard conversation with someone and confess what you have done and ask for their forgiveness.  

May you find the grace of God growing in your heart to the point where forgiveness flows naturally.  May you find in that grace the courage and strength to let go of the wrong done to you.  May you come to understand that God's work of forgiveness is not complete in you, until you are one who also freely forgives.  And may you know the joy of living in the freedom of forgiveness - that which you receive, as well as that which you give.  

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