Like all the good gifts from God our Father, forgiveness is something we need and something we must share. You could apply that to most things – our time, our money, our love … our smile!
At their request, Jesus gave his disciples a model prayer, which included asking ‘our Father in Heaven’ to ‘forgive us our sins . . .’ followed immediately by ‘. . . as we forgive those who sin against us.’ (Matthew 6:12). Stephen, the first Christian martyr, echoed Jesus’ words from the cross as he was stoned to death for his faith: ‘Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing!’ (Acts 7:60). The parable of the unforgiving servant ends with the sobering words ‘if you do not forgive neither will you be forgiven’ (Matthew 18:35).
‘I believe forgiveness is the best form of love in any relationship. It takes a strong person to say they're sorry and an even stronger person to forgive’ – Yolanda Hadid
‘Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness’ – Marianne Williamson
‘He that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven; for everyone has need to be forgiven’ – George Herbert
Some of us are naturally easy-going, relaxed and laid-back types, who are not easily ruffled or upset and who would be more ready to forgive and let go. Others of us find our hackles rising, and justify our ‘righteous indignation’ when we are wronged – forgiveness does not come so easily.
‘We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies’ – Martin Luther King Jr
‘We think that forgiveness is weakness, but it's absolutely not; it takes a very strong person to forgive’ – T D Jakes
‘The most important thing that I learned in growing up is that forgiveness is something that, when you do it, you free yourself to move on’ – Tyler Perry
‘Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them’ – Bruce Lee
‘When you forgive, you in no way change the past - but you sure do change the future’ – Bernard Meltzer
‘The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget’ – Thomas Szasz
‘I did a lot of things that I regretted and I certainly paid for my mistakes. You have to go and ask for forgiveness and it wasn't until I really started doing good and doing right, by other people as well as myself, that I really started to feel that guilt go away. So I don't have a problem going to sleep at night’ – Mark Wahlberg
So how do we find ourselves able to forgive others? It may be those we love the most who hurt us the most – although we can initially speak what may only be empty words, it may take some time before we have genuinely found forgiveness for our offender and for the hurt caused, or the let down and disappointment experienced. Even after a genuine forgiveness, it takes time for the wounds to heal – open wounds are vulnerable to knocks and susceptible to infection and set-backs. We need to ‘guard our hearts and minds’ (Philippians 4:7) during that healing process, not allowing insecurities to take root, and ‘taking thoughts captive’ (2 Corinthians 10:5) – beware of dwelling on what actually happened, what may have happened which we don’t know about, or what could yet happen if … if … if … Respect and trust can take a very long time to rebuild when they have been destroyed – persevere!
‘Forgiveness is an act of the will and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart’ – Corrie Ten Boom
‘And you know, when you've experienced grace and you feel like you've been forgiven, you're a lot more forgiving of other people. You're a lot more gracious to others’ – Rick Warren
‘Forgiveness is the remission of sins. For it is by this that what has been lost, and was found, is saved from being lost again’ – Saint Augustine
‘The glory of Christianity is to conquer by forgiveness’ – William Blake
‘Forgiveness means letting go of the past’ – Gerald Jampolsky
‘When you make a mistake and the devil comes and tells you 'You're no good,' you don't have to take on the guilt and condemnation he wants to put on you. No! You can immediately confess your mistake to God, thank Him for forgiving you and cleansing you with the blood of Jesus, and move forward in the victory of His grace and forgiveness’ – Joyce Meyer
Forgiving those we don’t naturally like can be even more of a challenge – perhaps we don’t actually mind if that relationship isn’t restored. God calls us though to forgive those people too –for our own good! Harboured bitterness can have nasty side-effects, twisting characters, robbing peace, or making us physically or mentally ill. It is releasing to know that it is not our responsibility to change either them or what they do, but it is only down to us to forgive them for how they have hurt us and to let go of wrong feelings or thoughts towards them. Ask God for His grace to forgive, and to be able to pray daily blessing for those we struggle to forgive or love.
‘If only I wasn’t an atheist, I could get away with anything. You’d just ask for forgiveness and then you’d be forgiven. It sounds much better than having to live with guilt’ – Keira Knightley
‘Forgiveness allowed me to wash my burdened past away’ – Clemantine Wamariya
‘Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life’ – George MacDonald
‘Forgiveness is the answer to the child’s dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again and what is soiled is made clean again’ – Dag Hammarskjold
There is a real personal cost felt when forgiving those who have caused pain, but it brings release that nothing else can.
‘Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’ – Luke 6:8
‘Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you’ – Colossians 3:13
‘And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins’ – Mark 11:25
‘But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults’ – Psalm 19:12
‘Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance’ – Psalm 32: 1-7
When we truly appreciate how much we have been forgiven, God will give us the grace we need to ‘forgive those who sin against us’
‘Forgive us our sins, as we also forgive everyone who sins against us’ – Luke 11:4 (EHV)
‘Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”’ – Luke 23:34
‘For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you’ – Matthew 6:14
Immense power is seen in forgiveness legends - Max Colby giving his life to save a prisoner; Gordon Wilson the Irish Dad forgiving those who killed his daughter Marie in the Elliskillen bomb blast; Corrie Ten Boom who forgave her vicious SS prison camp guard. Each of them was inspired by the greatest forgiver of all time – the Lord Jesus Christ. It was he who called us to follow him. His church is his bride – it is to be full of ‘forgiven-forgivers’ for heaven surely will be! ‘Oh when the saints go marching in, I wanna be in that number’!
TAGS - forgive, forgiven, Colby, mercy, peace