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And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. Matthew 6:12 NLT
I shared my story, but, as they each began to share theirs, my offense suddenly seemed somewhat insignificant.
The subject of our small group discussion was forgiveness. I’ve had my share of hurts—some more serious than others, so I began by revealing the most painful hurt I’d ever experienced. Heads nodded, and I assumed they’d been there—in one form or another. As they shared their stories, I knew they had. A mother whose spouse poured acid over her and her unborn child…scarring the child for life. Another who’d had an alcoholic grandmother spread a vicious rumor that she’d had an abortion when it was only a ruptured appendix. Still another told of an unfaithful spouse who still didn’t have time for his child even though she was presently an adult. And finally a story of a child’s sexual harassment. Each one had a choice: forgive or hold onto the hurt.
Jesus ties his forgiveness of our sins to our ability to forgive others. Only when I realize how serious my sin offense is against God and experience his forgiveness can I even begin to forgive others. No stinging offense exists that would even begin to compare to how my sin has hurt God.
Forgiveness is a choice. With God’s power, I can, but I don’t have to forgive anyone. If I choose not to forgive, I’ve disobeyed God who says I should place no limit on how many times I forgive those who hurt me. When I forgive, I release others from a debt they owe me for a wrong they’ve committed against me. I also release myself from the prison I’ll enter should I choose not to forgive.
Forgiveness is not condoning the evil acts of others, nor does it mean they shouldn’t or won’t experience punitive consequences for their actions. Forgiveness doesn’t even mean I must continue to associate with my offender. But through the act of forgiving, I demonstrate the love I’ve experienced from God.
Who do you need to forgive?
Prayer: Enable us, all-powerful God, to forgive others as You have forgiven us.