14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
My Dad had a saying he used all the time and we all knew it by heart, “Caution: Make sure your brain is engaged, before your mouth is in motion.” He said this when we were angry at someone. Of course, we didn’t follow his advice because we were angry, so we hit back, by saying or doing things, and more hurt ensued. This is the lesson we’re all still learning. Our faith is based on forgiving and loving, and while we seek forgiveness from God, we often find it impossible to forgive others. Forgiving others tests our faith.
Given the current climate in our country, forgiveness is the last thing on our minds. Everyone seems stuck in a circle of anger or hurt with no end. Not being able to forgive each other is toxic and it harms our relationships with each other and with God. Forgiveness is the only way forward to get out of the circle of anger and hurt we’re experiencing. Forgiveness is the real test of our faith, it comes from love rooted in God. As children of the Kin(g)dom we say we love God with all our hearts, minds and souls, but we fail at loving our neighbor as ourselves. It’s hard, and it tests our faith.
Maybe the reason asking for forgiveness comes after daily bread in the Lord’s Prayer, is because forgiveness is as essential to our daily survival, as food is to life. We need God’s forgiveness daily for our sins, and we need to forgive others daily in order to move forward in love and not stay stuck in the sin of anger and resentment. Asking for or offering forgiveness is the supreme act of love. God offered us forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus and extended a new relationship to us in love. We may need to be the one to reach out in love across the divide to ask for or grant forgiveness. Forgiveness has a cost, but the reward is new life.
Clinging to anger and hurt traps us in the past and prevents us from the new life in Christ that God intends for us to live. Asking God for forgiveness and forgiving others frees us from sin and allows for God’s grace to be at work in our lives.
By Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Are you daily seeking God’s forgiveness? Who do you need to reach out to in love and forgiveness and start life anew?
Prayer: Merciful and loving God, we ask your forgiveness of our sins. We want to reach out to those who have hurt us and forgive them, but we are weak and cling to our resentment. Send your Holy Spirit to be at work in our hearts so that we may forgive others as you have forgiven us. Amen.