Forgiveness is one of the most lacking things in American culture.  We—in our proud independence—do not want to believe that we must forgive others for their offenses against us.  Grudges are easier than forgiveness.

Many people will never apologize for the wrongs they’ve done to others.   They’ll withhold remorse when remorse is due.  They’d feel better for being honest with themselves and asking for forgiveness.

Sometimes people go half-way.  They’ll say they’re sorry.  The words are there, but it’s a veneer of regret.  We’ve seen it in testimony before Congress or in tweets or e-mails.  It’s as if saying the words is all it ought to require.  But forgiveness is something more.  It’s deeper than mere words.  It needs to be a heart attitude that we adopt for ourselves and our benefit, every bit as much as we do it for others and for making peace with them.

We need to understand forgiveness and the high standard we’re called to observe.

Jesus tells a story in Matthew 18: 21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

Verse 35 is a scary revelation from the lips of Jesus.  He’s completely serious that forgiveness needs to be from your heart—it’s a heart attitude.  And forgiving others as Jesus has forgiven us is a high standard indeed.  What do you need to forgive today?


Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on July 1, 2013

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