Matthew 6:14-15 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. (NIV)
I find forgiveness one of the hardest things to do, especially after someone has hurt or disappointed me. In my heart, I want to forgive them, but in my head I keep re-enacting the words or the event which have wounded me. I hold on to my bitterness and cradle my anger. Instead of moving on, I become stuck in my own stubbornness. I know that it would be better for me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to let it go, but before I do, I just want to nurse it a little while longer.
Today’s verses look and read as if they are a rebuke from Jesus, informing us that when we keep things or people unforgiven, we will suffer the same consequences when it comes to God’s judgment of us. It sounds like a divine ‘quid pro quo,’ where we can receive forgiveness in exchange for showing forgiveness. I think that is at the heart of what Jesus is saying, but I also think He’s reminding us and encouraging us to take the health benefits that become available to us when we actually practice forgiveness.
In the end, I really try hard to forgive and let past mistakes go. When things are tough, I enlist Christ’s help through prayer to enable me to release the firm grip that I have on my gripe, allowing me, as well as the other person, to begin again. Letting go of the past permits me to live in the present and look forward to the future. Christ heals me of that which holds me back; Jesus frees me from that which fragments my soul.
Point to ponder
Is there something or someone that I still need to forgive? Am I willing to let Jesus help me to let it go?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for forgiving our past sins and mistakes. Help us to regain our spiritual strength by applying Your grace and forgiveness to those who have hurt or disappointed us. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. You can visit the church website at www.erinpresbyterian.org.
Today’s image is one of John’s latest Good Friday drawings called “Fallen Star.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2860/32857434250_6b42a68137_b.jpg