“Forgive as the Lord forgave you”
Our redemption and reconciliation with God was not something forced upon Him. It was provided by His wonderful grace and arose out of His great love. This free gift of forgiveness came through the great sacrifice of His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It cannot be purchased and it cannot be earned. It may only be received though a humble and acknowledging faith.
There is however a consequence that comes out clearly in Jesus teaching. Nowhere is this clearer than in the Sermon on the Mount with His presentation of what we call the Lord’s Prayer.
- “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12)
- “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15)
If we, who have been forgiven so much by the grace of God, are not prepared to extend a similar grace towards those who have offended us then it shows that we have not grasped either the seriousness of our own sins or the love and generosity of God. The resulting hardness of heart towards others then acts as a barrier to the love and forgiveness of God towards us.
- “Then the master called the servant in. `You wicked servant,’ he said, `I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” (Matthew 18:32-33)
We are called by God to forgive others just as He has forgiven us.
- It is an act of will – not of emotion
- It is an act of love – not of manipulation
- It is an act of obedience – not of desire
- It is an act of liberation and of transformation
Note that God’s great act of forgiveness comes first. Our acts of forgiveness come from our recognition and response to God’s. If we harden ourselves against forgiving others we create a barrier against our receiving and knowing the ongoing forgiveness and grace of God. (More tomorrow)
Reflect on God’s forgiveness
Father You have made available to me a forgiveness, healing and liberation that I do not deserve. Help me please to recognise the value and extent of Your great act of grace and to allow it to soften my own heart and open it to Your presence and love. Amen.