Forgiveness is the perfume a flower leaves on the heel that crushed it. It is an undeserved grace that one who is sinned against grants the one who sinned against them. The word "grace" means literally in the original Greek "unmerited favor". It is through God's grace, mercy and forgiveness that we have the forgiveness of our sins. Every man has sinned before God, 1 John 8-10 "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." When Jesus hung on the cross, He being God, showed the perfect example in the attitude we must have in forgiving others. He said, "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Lk 23:34.
We take for granted how easily God forgives us while we will not forgive others who sin against us. Yet we are to forgive in the same manner that God forgave us. Stephen was stoned to death only because he was a Christian. His dying words were, "Lord do not hold this sin against them." Acts 7:60. In the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35) A king forgave a servants debt of $10 million dollars. This servant then went out and threw into jail a friend who owed him about $100 dollars. When the king heard of it he said to him, "You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you? And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart." You see, the manner that we dish out forgiveness to others, it will be dished back to us in exactly the same way by God.
A man once phoned up a preacher and said, "My wife and I just had an historical argument." The preacher correcting gently corrected, "You mean a hysterical argument don't you?" The man replied, "No historical. She dredged up every mistake I have made in the past 20 years of our marriage and threw them at me in one big lump." You see forgiveness means forgetness! Not that you cannot remember, just that you don't call them to mind. Some husbands say nothing when their wife wrongs them. They just mutter under their breath with a devious smile, "I'll forgive you, but one day, when it is to my personal advantage, you will pay the price." They just quietly set them into the ammunition bunker for some future time when they are needed during some future battle. It is the ace in the hole that keeps coming up time after time. Just imagine if God forgave that way. Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross in 1881 was known as the "angel of the battle field". Once a reporter had slandered her with an unkind lie. Years later, she was asked if she had any bad feelings against that reporter. She replied, "No, I distinctly remember forgetting that." Now that is how God forgives! "put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; putting up with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you." Colossians 3:13. Let's not be like a dog who keeps digging up old bones buries long ago.
But sometimes we can't forgive ourselves for some terrible thing that we have done. Sometimes even God has forgiven us, but we won't forgive ourselves. Remember Stephen who was stoned just for being a Christian. It was the apostle Paul prior to his conversion to the truth who had him stoned. Paul referred to this in 1 Timothy 1:12 "Jesus put me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. And yet I was shown mercy" Yet Paul also said, "but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13. We all make big mistakes. But it is important that we forgive ourselves too!
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