Recall that after Jesus teaches his disciples about prayer he concludes that if we don’t forgive others their sins, God won’t forgive us. Is that really true or was Jesus just using hyperbole to encourage this band of students to keep their community alive in love.
I want to throw this idea out there. It’s probably from someone else because that’s where all good ideas come from. Forgiveness means letting go of someone as though you were holding him or her by the neck for their debt to you or their trespass against you. It’s hard to hold out your hands to receive from God if you are preoccupied with payback from another.
You may remember Jesus telling the parable of the unforgiving debtor, one who having himself been pardoned by his master subsequently finds a debtor to himself out of whom this man almost literally chokes the life. Jesus concludes by saying that the first debtor was locked away for good.
Here’s the thing about forgiveness. It’s grace. It means doing for another what they cannot do for themselves. Grace means that you and I take the debt on ourselves as Jesus did for the whole world. If we cannot issue grace to another then it is evidence that we do not receive the grace of God and if we do not place our confidence in the grace of God we are left alone, removed from God as it were.
Amidst all the evilness of the world there is no one who does to us what we did to Christ. And make no mistake. He willingly took all that upon himself. He did it to make the world right with God. And anyone who wants to stand in that new world needs to do the same work with the help of God working in and through us.
Certainly it is possible to desire to forgive when the action comes with difficulty. God understands that. How hard was it for Jesus to take action to bring forgiveness to the world. Towards the end he would have like to escape such self-denying love. So when it is difficult for us to forgive the best place to go is in the arms of our Savior to rest with him and abide with him and let him do the loving within and through us. Maybe it’s a little baby step at first but baby steps are good when we look to the growth they will bring.
So think of someone who needs your forgiveness even someone who has died. Think of someone far away or maybe in your own household. Then go to school with Jesus and let him teach you…and me the essence of his Grace.
And if we won’t forgive? Well, what we are saying to God is ‘no thank you. We will handle life in our own way’, and we won’t want God anyway.
Many will come in those last days to Christ saying, ‘Lord Lord’ but Jesus will say that some will have to depart because they really didn’t want God’s will anyway.
But I would submit that forgiving another will be one of the greatest christian spiritual experiences of your life when you …and I let go of another to embrace God. That is the good life. So let’s be students of the good life.