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The Undeserved Gift of Forgiveness

Weekly Devotionals

The Undeserved Gift of Forgiveness

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. … 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. – Matthew 6:12, 14-15 (NIV)

As we worship and seek Christ, a basic and difficult to implement thing is the call to forgive. Basic because, living together on earth, we will all need to forgive and be forgiven at some point. Difficult because the hurt of being wronged by another is real, and setting it aside goes against our sense of justice. Yet God’s word to us is unyielding on this point: unforgiveness is not an option if we are His children. We must lay down our grudges and let the Lord be the judge, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:2 NIV)

It starts with humility and ends with obedience. In contradiction to the world’s teaching that all people are ‘basically good,’ Christ shows us that we are all in fact sinners. None of us is better than another in that regard. And when we have that Spirit-led realization of our sinfulness, we know that what we need from God is the forgiveness Christ gifts to us when we identify with His death for our sins on the cross. It is a gift beyond what we deserve or could ever earn. Forgiveness is God’s mercy and grace to us when we place our faith in Christ.

To our neighbor, we are called to do the same as was done for us: to offer and seek forgiveness in humility to one another. As Christ’s servants, we are called to serve each other with this radically higher standard of love, only possible because He did the same for us.

“But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. … “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:22-24 NIV)

Holding onto anger toward one another separates us from from true fellowship with God and fails to follow Jesus’ example. It wounds us personally and hinders spiritual growth. Yet choosing to put to death the ‘old self’ this way is hard. We must realize what valuable real estate we offer the enemy when we hold a grudge in our heart, even if that person neither deserves nor has asked for our forgiveness.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore … “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:22-27 NIV)

Following Christ is a discipline of setting aside the wide and easy way for the narrow path of self-sacrificial love, because He loved us first. From that place we can choose to do the hard things He asks, not just because we’ve learned that it’s right, not just because of Jesus’ example of obedience to the Father, but also because of our gratitude when we realize the amazing gift His forgiveness is to us. Knowing all our debt He’s cancelled, shouldn’t we have mercy on our fellow debtors just as He had on us? And not just our friends, or fellow believers, but our enemies, too.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. … But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:31-32; 35-36 NIV)

There is no doubt this is a hard word. But humility and sincere forgiveness is of God and is necessary for oneness with God. Forgiveness is one of the most beautiful gifts we can give another. And from the beautiful seeds of forgiveness, reconciliation and unity can bloom in the love of Christ.