Forgiving and Forgiven
For 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)
C.S. Lewis wrote, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive.” How could he know me so well? If someone has done me (or especially my children) wrong, my natural self would much rather harbor a grudge than forgive. But if I don’t forgive, I am only hurting myself because of the consequences of unforgiveness.
I remember calling my father once to complain that a coach was not giving my child enough playing time in a sport (just being honest here). Because of a poor cell phone connection, it was impossible for us to talk. “Call me back later when you have a clear signal,” he said.
Before calling him back, I had some time to think. I could feel God giving me a sobering illustration. There was no doubt that God, like my father, would love to listen to my prayers. But when the cloud of unforgiveness looms in the air, there is definitely not a clear signal.
When we hold grudges against others, we block the communication between ourselves and God. The Bible tells us to forgive whatever grievances we may have against others, and to forgive as the Lord forgave us (Colossians 3:13). We do not enjoy the Lord’s forgiveness when we refuse to forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15). Even the apostle Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” He probably thought seven was going above and beyond the call of duty. But Jesus said, “I tell you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” That is, don’t put a limit on how often you forgive (Matthew 18:21-22).
If I sense static on the line when I talk to God, one of the first things I am learning to check is whether I am holding a grudge against anyone. If so, I take care of that first, and call back with a clear connection.
Heavenly Father, I could never begin to count the number of times You have forgiven me. So please help me not to count the times I forgive others. Help me forgive as I am forgiven. Amen.
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