As the calendar year is ending, Christmas is approaching. Streets and buildings are beginning to light up. Christmas jingles are starting to ring in our heads. All the troubles may appear to be far away. Hearts are getting ready to dive into celebration after celebration. There will be gatherings and parties that most of us look forward to. There will also be such events that some of us may have hearts too weak to front the battle. Unpleasant feelings left unattended may have already been tugged away somewhere, well-hidden through the year–out of sight, out of mind.
Then Peter came up and said to Jesus, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22 ESV)
Jesus’ reply was epic. He did not tell Peter to “Forgive and forget”, a commonly used phrase to encourage people to move on with life, but stated an impossible mission of not only to forgive our transgressors over seven times but seventy-seven times even when he knew, it would be impossible for most of us. I often think that we may just be calling out a weakling in us to forget about a matter so as to forgive. The idea of forgiving and forgetting a wrong done thus allowing the wrong to be done to us over and again is senseless. It is actually meaningless to the forgiveness given if no wrong is remembered. Forgiveness does not just appear over time. It is a choice–a choice to bear the cross. Truly, it was beyond us if we were not redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Ephesians 1:7 says “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” So, we can forgive not because of how good we are but it was Jesus who died and redeemed us through His blood by God’s grace that made forgiveness possible for us. The remedy to our pain is not about how well we can forget but how much we want to allow our Abba Father’s love given to us through our Lord, Jesus Christ, to embrace us and carry us through.
Colossians 3:13 “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” The weight of sin is heavy but God gave His Son and Jesus carried the cross for us. Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
I grew up with many grievances and forgiveness had always been something too far-fetching for me. I blamed everything and everyone else and even blamed God for pains that I had to go through because of mistakes created by dumb people who claimed to love but added on more pain because, they loved. It was so difficult to see beyond my own pain, let alone, to forgive.
I am reminded then, of the Lord’s prayer… Matthew 6:9-15 “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, …And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Turning impossibilities into possibilities. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:54-57) We can forgive only if we choose to forgive because we choose to follow our Lord, Jesus Christ.
To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in us. ~C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Such is the love of Christ-We loved because He first loved. We can forgive because we have been forgiven.
(Featured image: Osulloc Tea Museum, Jeju Island, South Korea; September 2018)
His beautiful & relentless love makes a soul relentlessly beautiful.