Jesus often raises the bar of excellence for us in His teachings. Luke records one such challenge the Lord puts before us.
Jesus stated, “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” (Luke 17:3-4)
This is not an easy challenge to achieve. We observe this when we think of family members that have not spoken to each other in years. Typically, this is a result of one dispute rather than a seven in a day. Jesus provides the solution through the power of forgiveness.
Perhaps our ability to forgive can be enhanced through a better understanding of why we forgive. After all, it is not easy to be motivated to accomplish anything apart from an understanding of why we are putting forth the effort in the first place. Therefore, let us consider the following.
Because we have been forgiven. This is the point of the parable Jesus taught in Matthew 18:21-35. One servant was forgiven of an astronomical debt that he could never pay. Instead of having the right heart, he went out and refused to forgive his fellow servant of a small debt. When the king heard this, he reinstated the debt and delivered him to the torturers (vs. 34).
When we pause to remember the great debt of sin we have been forgiven, it should give us great pleasure to extend grace and mercy to those who have wronged us. This is not only good for our own sake, but it reflects the forgiving nature of God to those we forgive.
Because we continually need God’s grace. Jesus taught about forgiveness in the Sermon on the Mount.
He said, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will you Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
We all sin and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Thus, we remain in constant need of the cleansing power of the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7). If we hold on to a grudge we cannot be forgiven. Simply put, we cannot hold on to a grudge without turning loose of our salvation. Therefore, we must choose our actions wisely.
Because of the healing it brings. The power of forgiveness is not exclusively beneficial to the one who did the wrong. There is great benefit for the innocent person as well. When one forgives another, the healing process begins. Those harsh feelings of bitterness and wrath are soon dissolved in the warm rays of grace.
When one forgives another, he is no longer a slave to the grudge. A grudge is like a thorn embedded in a relationship. As long as it remains, the relationship is going to hurt. When we forgive another person, we remove the thorn. By doing so, we are essentially saying that my relationship with you is more important than a grudge will ever be!
Remember, we all must choose between a grudge and a relationship. You simply cannot hold on to one without releasing the other. Strong relationships are powered by love and forgiveness.
God bless each of you.