We listened in amazement when, in the midst of unbelievable agony, He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” What an act of forgiveness! What a pattern for us to follow!
Christ spoke often about forgiveness, and He stressed that our salvation hinges on it. Hear His words: “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).
A small boy, repeating the Lord’s Prayer one evening prayed, “And forgive us our debts as we forgive those who are dead against us.” He may have missed the words, but he retained a good deal of the meaning.
To truly forgive another is delightful, joyous, and gives freedom. When we get serious about forgiveness, God helps us. In fact, He suggests that we forgive — even 70 times 70!
Edwin Chapin observed: “Never does the human soul appear so strong and noble as when it foregoes revenge and dares to forgive an injury.”
Hank Hanegraaff is a writer and public speaker. In his little book, “The Prayer of Jesus,” he tells a touching story about his child Christina, who is unusually compassionate and forgiving, both toward her peers and adults.
Her school awarded her a Compassion Award, and her dad was so involved in a writing assignment that he let the hour slip by, even though he had faithfully promised her to attend the presentation. Upon remembering, he rushed to the school, but people were coming out as he approached — he had missed the event.
That evening his wife handed him a beautiful note etched in a child’s handwriting, from a classmate of Christina’s. Below a smiley face in the shape of a heart were these words printed by a child’s hand: Dear Christina, will you forgive me? I want to be your best friend. Love Kelsa.
If only we could learn to forgive and seek to be forgiven as quickly as children.
Jesus said: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).”
There is something unexplainable and good that happens to us when we decide to forgive a grudge, an injury, or an injustice. Have you tried that lately? The world’s way is to hate or get even, but that isn’t God’s way.
Christ said to love others, even our enemies. To forgive and love takes an act of the will. We decide that by God’s help we are forgiving the other party, and also by God’s help we are going to love the person or persons.
Instead of remembering the problem, we ignore it, pray for the person, and think good thoughts. Compliment the person to others. Now, don’t you feel a lot better!
Someone said it requires only an ounce of grace and a thimble full of brains to hold a grudge; but to entirely forget an injury is truly beautiful.
Author Jay Riffenbary said forgiveness is a powerful gift that releases us from the bondage of past failures, hurts, and disappointments. We cannot change yesterday, but we can make the choice whether to learn, grow, and move on from past mistakes and misfortunes or to allow them to control our emotional well-being today and attitudes in the future.
When a Christ follower thinks of the word forgiveness, memorable portions of Scripture come to mind, such as the father forgiving the prodigal son, the unmerciful servant, and Peter’s acceptance by Christ after the Denial. Christ made forgiveness the capstone of the Lord’s Prayer.
Upon closing, consider the beautiful admonition to all of us given in Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”