For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. – Mat 6:14,15
When I was a young boy, I read an interesting daily devotion written by Mansell and Mansell on Forgiveness. When Moravian missionaries went to preach the Gospel to Eskimos, they did not find an appropriate word for “Forgiveness,” so they had to coin a new word – issumagijoujungnainermik. It is tough to pronounce the word, but it means – “not being able to think about it anymore.” There is no better way to forgive than to forget the wrong deeds of the offender.
In 1946, a member of an outlaw gang gunned down nine members of the Hamelmann’s family in cold blood. The accused was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison. When he completed his term and came out of the jail, he had no relative and nowhere to go. When Hamelmann, a devoted Christian heard about it, he went to the civil authorities and expressed his interest in adopting the accused. In his request he wrote – Christ died for my sins and forgave me. Should I not forgive this man? Most of my Christians brother will fail such a test.
Why is forgiving a Nightmare?
When we ask Christians, “Which is the most arduous task.” Many will reply without winking – Forgiving others. Forgiving becomes a bigger challenging if we have suffered a massive and irreparable loss. There are many reasons why we don’t forgive others. Let us look at a few in this meditation.
The number one reason is Ignorance. We grow up thinking forgiveness is an option. But, little do we know that it is a commandment from God and not an option. Secondly, we are born rebels. We inherit the default nature of the first Adam who was a rebel himself. The basic character of a rebellious person is to take revenge. When we want to avenge someone, we feel unable to forgive. Revenge is the bigger brother of Un-forgiveness.
Thirdly, when we have a seared conscience, it becomes difficult to forgive others. Conscience is a powerful compass which guides us on the right path. Like a car glare shield, it needs to be cleaned regularly. After some time, as the dirt sticks and becomes hard to remove, when we don’t listen to our conscience, we first weaken it and then eventually turn deaf to it. We lose the inner voice which helps us forgive others.
Finally, we fail to forgive due to human emotions such as Pride and Prestige. We think we are weak if we forgive. Some believe that unforgiveness is a virtue of the Bold and the Brave. They consider forgiving to losing a battle.
Why should we forgive?
We look for benefits in everything we do. If only we can clearly understand the numerous benefits of forgiving, we will never be the same. Though not for a noble reason we will at least learn to Forgive Selfishly. The three essential reasons are
We need God’s forgiveness
We are all sinners (Rom 3:23) and need forgiveness. But we are forgiven only to the measure we forgive others (Matt 6:14,15). We inhibit the cleaning power of God in our life when we harbor unforgiveness in our heart. The Bible says very clearly that un-forgiveness is a barrier to receiving anything from God. Also, God does not accept anything from us if we have a grudge with our fellow brothers. (Mat 5:23). In a way, we are cut-off from God. We are supposed to forgive one another as God forgave us (Colossians 3:13).
Escape from Tormentors
In Matt 18:21-35, we need the story of the unforgiving servant. The King pardons 60 million denarii of his servant’s debt. But when that heartless servant is unable to forgive his fellow servant who owes him 100 denarii, he throws him into prison and delivers him to the tormentors till he pays his last dues. In our lives too, God is the King, and we are the Servant. We have been forgiven a million measure, and if we are to escape God’s punishment, the only way is to keep forgiving our brothers. I call this Selfishly forgiving.
Forgiving is winning
Unforgiveness is like a clogged artery in our system. It does more harm to us than our enemies. Prov 25:22 says that we reap coals of fire on our enemies’ head by forgiving our enemies. Forgiving is winning. In Lev 19:17-18, we read that when we hold a grudge, we tend to commit sin because of it. God says Vengeance is mine and let us not try to attempt his job. Our job is to forgive one another and enjoy the bountiful blessings that come due to obeying his word. 2 John 1:6, Luke 11:28.