“‘If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying “I repent,” you must forgive them.’” -Luke 17:3-4 (NIV)
Forgiveness is not something which comes naturally for us. The resentments and grudges we hold, and our willingness to hold onto new ones, continues to remind us of this fact. When we have been slighted and hurt by someone else, it is easy to allow anger and bitterness to settle in. We might boast about our abilities to forgive, but we will always be reminded that our forgiveness has limits. The moment we declare an action to be unforgivable we have confessed to ourselves that we are unable to show that unconditional love and grace we are so keen to show off. We may be able to forgive the first time, and perhaps even the second. But our patience soon begins to wear thin, and we deem our offenders not worthy of our mercy.
Why choose forgiveness? When we are faced with injustice we want our enemies to feel retribution, not give them clemency. But if we allow our desire for revenge to fester, it will consume us. We will become prisoners of our anger, and we will soon find that in our thoughts, words, and actions, we will have fallen into sin. As children of Christ we forgive because we do not deserve it ourselves. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s holy standards. Yet, in His unfailing love, God sent down His Son, Jesus Christ, so that through Him we may find forgiveness. When we accept this free gift of salvation and allow the Spirit of Christ to cleanse us of our sin, we are able to stand before God not because of anything we have done, but by the grace He has willingly shown us. If He does not withhold forgiveness from us no matter what we do, why should we refrain from doing so as His children? Only through allowing Christ’s Spirit to perfect His love in us will we be able to truly extend the hand of forgiveness; in that finding freedom and life.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.