Then Jesus said, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do - Luke 23:34
A Christian neighbor of mine, was deeply hurt by another Christian neighbor when she first moved into our apartment complex. I mentioned the need to forgive the neighbor who had offended her. Her reply was an adamant, “I can’t forgive her, she was too mean to me.” Then she abruptly turned her back to me and hurried away.
I was deeply saddened by her response. As Christians, we are required to forgive those who have offended us. As Jesus said, unforgiveness is a condition that can actually block our own forgiveness from God and halt our redemption. –
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:14,15).
I thought back to Jesus’ crucifixion. What if He had said to God, “Father, don’t forgive them, they are too mean to Me.”
Thankfully, He did not pray those words. In the midst of His agony, and the mocking, jeering crowds who were rejoicing at His suffering, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
This is the example we have been called to follow; even when we have been severely wounded by others, in spite of the verbal brutality and unkindness we must endure. Our response must always be one of forgiveness. This is part of what it means to pick up our cross and follow Jesus. –
Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me (Matthew 16:24).
It’s not easy, but if our minds are directed to following the will of God, He can overcome our hearts with His mercy and compassion.
We can mentally forgive, even though the hurt remains. The wounds can be handed up to God for Him to soothe and heal.
When we fail to forgive, we put a barrier between ourselves and the One who can mend all our fractured emotions. Unforgiveness imprisons us in the poison we permit to remain in our own souls.
When Jesus looked down from His perch of agony at the mass of humanity He was giving His life to save, we have to remember that we are also among the ones whose sins impaled Him. He prayed that we would be forgiven. And we will be if we repent of our sins and be willing to forgive all the others gathered with us at the foot of His cross.
Father, please help us to forgive those who have hurt us, for we need Your forgiveness most of all.
Copyright 2017 by H. D. Shively
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