I am, you are, we’re all forgiven; Why don’t we forgive as well?
The words of God as Christ directed us; we are to forgive as our heavenly Father has forgiven us. It isn’t just a good idea put before us to make things appear as we will, but then after the mist of hidden resentment clears we go about getting even with those who hurt us.
From Matthew’s Gospel Jesus told his listeners; “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy, But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” (Mt 5: 43 - 45).
Perhaps the lowest attribute any of us can hold onto is that of revenge towards another person with the attitude of “ I’ll forgive you but I will never forget what you did to me.” From Jeremiah, “No longer will they have need to teach their friends and kinsmen how to know the Lord, All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sins no more.” (Jer 31: 34).
So many years before the crucifixion of Jesus, God related through Jeremiah as he promised restoration to his people the one main attribute of God is when he forgives he also does not remember the sins of man as well. Recall the words of Jesus as he hung on the cross dying; “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Lk 23: 34).
Relish the fact that true forgiveness is without merit if it becomes conditional. I heard of a woman who became divorced from her husband and never could forgive him in spite of his attempt to reconcile their differences. She died later in years of pain through suffering multiple maladies and perhaps because of her unwillingness to forgive, passed away a broken woman. One might say that was not her fault, but when we carry revenge and hatred around in our hearts there is no telling what that will do to our physical and mental condition.
It can be the most devastating factor to our psyche when the only satisfaction we get is to seek our enemies' slow destruction in order to show them how much power we have in cursing their existence. It makes us wonder what most sinners would become like if Jesus would have suffered in his passion and died for only a few chosen people. In that case there would not have been any one of us since all have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glory.
We all have instances in our journey through life when the relationship of more than one person can become a challenge and our greatest blessing will be how completely we can overlook the insidious reaction of another against us. Events that ruffle our feathers and stir up anger that should pass without bitterness may be the worst part of a day in infamy for us. As difficult as it may seem, muster up the courage to be like Christ who quickly chose to forgive us by stretching out his arms on the cross as if to say; “This is how much I love you and forgive your sins.”
Ralph B. Hathaway