13 Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. 14 And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
When I think about forgiveness, I am reminded about the ultimate lesson Jesus gave by offering forgiveness to a criminal hanging on a cross next to him. A broken man needed only to respectfully ask for forgiveness just once for a suffering Jesus to offer it in an instant. Despite the circumstance, Jesus lovingly offered this grace by saying, “I promise you, this very day you will enter paradise with me.” (See Luke 23:34-46.)
But in a smaller way, thinking of forgiveness also reminds me about a time early in my faith journey. I was seriously stuck because I could not forgive myself. I knew that I had prayerfully asked for God’s forgiveness, but I chose instead to hold onto the grief of my transgressions. Even though I had repeatedly talked to God about such forgiveness, I just did not feel I had suffered enough!
Suffered enough? Hold up. For the record, this is mental “score keeping,” and I do not recommend it.
Sometimes we can’t help but look for someone to suffer enough or to apologize enough, in order to be forgiven. Whether we do not forgive ourselves or others, this is not God’s way. Despite his suffering on the cross, Jesus showed us the way to forgive in an instant. Perhaps it is our pride or stubbornness that keeps us from readily accepting or offering loving forgiveness. Yet, once we prayerfully ask for forgiveness, in God’s eyes we are forgiven.
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
When it comes to forgiveness, there really is no score keeping on God’s part. Our sins are forgiven when we prayerfully ask for forgiveness. What is really so hard about forgiveness for ourselves and/or others? What if it is our pride or stubbornness that gets in the way? Does that keep us from our truest relationship with God? How can you put pride or stubbornness aside to forgive someone, or even yourself, today?
Prayer: Loving God, thank you for forgiving us, even though we struggle with pride to forgive others or ourselves. Let us instead turn to you. Let us remember the example of Jesus, who taught us to forgive, even as he suffered on the cross for our sakes. Thank you, God, for your loving forgiveness. Amen.