So it is time to reference the next verses that challenge my very soul.
Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Oh my! How challenging are these words? So often these words seem to be ignored by many Christians when we refer to conflict and the need for reconciliation, they are tough words to hear and, in my opinion, tougher to enact.
I find that it is much easier to pray for those who persecute me, easier to ‘love’ my enemies but forgiveness is so much harder. How on earth do you ‘let go’ and remember their sins no more? Is it right to? As a Christian, it is liberating to know that Jesus will forgive my sins and if my reading is correct, they are also forgotten when that forgiveness is received, though my sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. I struggle with these verses in Matthew 6.
When reading the Old Testament narrative of Joseph, we see a man who goes through utter torment and also great blessing. He has fun with his brothers and concludes by saying, ‘what you intended for harm, God intended for good’ – what a beautiful expression. Joseph sees the bigger narrative than the one he lives, he sees the greater narrative of God himself. It is the gospel enacted,refreshing, challenging and liberating, but still, I struggle to behave this way myself.
I am fortunate that there are not many people where there is a struggle to forgive wrongs done but there are a couple (still too many). This struggle leaves me straining in the depths of my soul and I have all the excuses….’but they never said sorry’, ‘their behaviour has not changed, so why should I forgive’ etc. etc etc., yet, these arguments are weak if I want forgiveness, There is need to forgive too! Ouch! The truth is, there are people who may well feel the same about me, there are bound to be those whom I have hurt, knocked down and bruised, would I desire forgiveness from them? Of course, yet that seems easier to deal with than when things are in reverse.
I have not arrived there yet but will try. Time is a healer although one day the timer runs out…..my prayer is that it will not be too late.
Lord, help me to forgive, help me to love as you love, that you may be praised, honoured and glorified.