God is ever merciful and kind towards you…regardless of how badly you act towards Him. It tells us in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” We need to reflect the mercy God first showed us by forgiving others. Forgiveness is so very powerful…because it’s the starting point for both parties to begin the road towards healing. For without forgiveness, there will never be a release from all the negative and dark emotions of resentment, anger, and bitterness. For without forgiveness, you are never really set free from the past.
The concept in this Scripture is very clear…forgive so that you may be forgiven. So why yet do we find so much pleasure in holding onto grudges? What starts out as a simple miscommunication or disagreement, morphs into something with a life all its own. Anger simmers, and shifts into resentment…frustration stews over how we’ve been wronged, and slowly changes into spite and hard feelings. Holding grudges only harm ourselves…they allow the root of bitterness to take hold and flourish within…and they prevent God from working fully in our lives.
Jesus was explaining to Simon Peter that the number of times we need to forgive one another is just arbitrary. It’s not about keeping a score card on that other person…for the act of forgiveness not about them at all. Forgiveness stems from the unlimitless capacity to forgive that Jesus first showed us while we were still sinners. So as Christians, we are compelled to show each other the same kind of forgiveness…for forgiveness comes out of love for the Lord and each other. The act of forgiveness is for our benefit, not others. For if we allow unforgiveness to fester inside, blame escalates, and with it, growing bitterness, which leads only to spiritual blight.
To walk in love means that the love of God has become so ingrained in you that it has become part of your personality. I come from a long line of stoic German farmers who are not huggers, so when I became a Nurse, I had to train myself to touch people…sometimes in very intimate ways, in potentially embarrassing procedures. And over the years, showing compassion and God’s love through touch just became part of me. We all need to determine to walk in love. To respect rather than disregard…to forgive rather than condemn…to show mercy rather than harshness…to be kind rather than cruel.
In Paul’s letter to the Church in Corinth he’s stressing the need for forgiveness. One of Satan’s favorite tricks is to draw us into a attitude of unforgiveness towards others. He exploits our feelings of resentment and anger, and sadly our soul deteriorates as bitterness takes over.
Sometimes we manage to banish ourselves from God’s presence by bad decisions we’ve made…sometimes the Lord disciplines us by starkly exposing our disobedience and lets us think about it in the desert for a while. Either way, God promises His forgiveness and reconciliation to all who seek Him.
The premise is so simple, the impending possible result… eternal. The Lord doesn’t want us doing His job…judging and condemning are His work, not ours. Every time we pass judgment on someone, we take on God’s mantel…which doesn’t fit us at all. Every time we judge, it may make us feel better about ourselves for a moment, but the Lord is grieved for our actions. Let God do His job…judging, and you do yours…forgiving.