Forgiveness First

Why is forgiveness so powerful?

It shouldn’t be a complicated question. At a basic level, forgiveness is an essential part of giving and receiving love.

But in this crazy demanding world of ours, it’s easy to forget how to forgive when somebody wrongs us. We quickly allow our feelings of indignation to get in the way.

Of course, indignation may feel like it’s working its magic for a while. By withholding forgiveness from the person who did us wrong, we experience (if only temporarily) a sense of power.

But does this approach actually resolve matters for the good?

Jesus was clear about the better path to take: he warned against withholding forgiveness from others.

Because how can we justifiably embrace indignation when we ourselves have already been forgiven far more than we deserve?

The truth is that God has forgiven each of us more than we will ever know. Standing in that knowledge, the only proper response from us is to forgive those who have done us wrong.

But, what happens if we don’t forgive? Does God’s love for us depend on whether or not we extend forgiveness to others?

Here’s the amazing thing: the love of God is given to us as a GIFT regardless of our thoughts and actions

it’s not something we earn by dint of our good deeds
it’s not something we deserve because we’re just that incredibly awesome
it’s simply a gift that we’re given

And this undeserved, unearned, unmerited gift of love is the embodiment of GRACE.

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I think that’s what Jesus is getting at.

That whether or not we forgive other people is a pretty good indicator of whether or not that grace from God is having an impact on our life. It’s a pretty good indicator of whether or not we’ve accepted God’s love for us.

Because the more we accept God’s love, the more we allow it a foothold in our hearts—which, in turn, strengthens our own capacity for forgiveness. And the more forgiving we become, the more able we are to extend that love to others.

It’s a virtuous circle.

Of course, developing the gift of forgiveness takes time and practice. It’s not about perfection but instead about steady progress.

Are we more forgiving—less angry— this year than we were last? Are we cultivating the practice of forgiveness over time?

standing in the unearned love and undeserved forgiveness of God
standing in God’s grace
how dare we do anything
but extend that same love and forgiveness to others.
The simple truth of the matter is
it’s not ours to withhold.

May it be so!

Matthew 18:23-34 (New Testament for Everyone)

‘So, you see,’ Jesus went on, ‘the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle up accounts with his servants. As he was beginning to sort it all out, one man was brought before him who owed ten thousand talents. He had no means of paying it back, so the master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and everything he possessed, and payment to be made.

‘So the servant fell down and prostrated himself before the master.

‘ “Be patient with me,” he said, “and I’ll pay you everything!”

‘The master was very sorry for the servant, and let him off. He forgave him the loan.

‘But that servant went out and found one of his fellow-servants, who owed him a hundred dinars. He seized him and began to throttle him. “Pay me back what you owe me!” he said.

‘The colleague fell down and begged him, “Be patient with me, and I’ll pay you!”

‘But he refused, and went and threw him into prison until he could pay the debt.

‘So when his fellow-servants saw what had happened, they were very upset. They went and informed their master about the whole affair. Then his master summoned him.

‘ “You’re a scoundrel of a servant!” he said to him. “I let you off the whole debt, because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have taken pity on your colleague, like I took pity on you?”

‘His master was angry, and handed him over to the torturers, until he had paid the whole debt. And that’s what my heavenly father will do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother or sister from your heart.’