Forgiveness is difficult. At times it can feel almost impossible.
But as Christ followers, we really don’t have a choice. Jesus made that abundantly clear. In case you have any doubts, check out the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 19:21-35. God is serious about us forgiving people.
He has every right to be. And not just because He’s God, but because He has forgiven us. Of all our sin. And it cost Him a lot.
Sometimes we find it hard to forgive a person because of what their actions cost us.
Other times it really has very little to do with them and almost everything to do with us. Our arrogance or self-focus or hard heart.
Or bad memory.
I think most of the time it has to do with a bad memory. At least that’s true for me.
Remember in the Old Testament when God would have the Israelites create a ‘memorial’ after some dramatic episode in their history? He told them that when their children asked what it was, they were to tell them that particular story about how God came through for them.
This retelling not only taught their children about their nation’s history, it also kept those stories alive in their own memories.
In the New Testament, the night before His crucifixion, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper. He told His disciples to do it to remember Him–and what He was about to do for them on the cross.
Participating in the Lord’s Supper once a month at church always reminds me how much I’ve been forgiven and what it cost God. But that’s not always the first thing that comes to mind when I’ve been hurt by someone.
Building a memorial that I would have to pass by every day is a good idea. But I’m not sure my roommate or the neighbors would appreciate it.
Now I definitely don’t think we need to keep our focus on our past or our past sin. But we do need to remind ourselves—especially when we’ve been hurt—that whatever someone’s actions cost us, it will never be more than our actions cost God.
And instead of giving other people what they deserve—or what we think they deserve—He expects us to be merciful to them.
Just like He is merciful to us.
God wants us to make it a point to remember all the times He’s come through for us—especially how He came through for us on the cross. And then use those memories as the foundation for our life today.
And here’s the kind of life we’re promised when we decide to be merciful:
Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy! Matthew 5:7 Amplified Version (AMP)
Sounds like an awesome life to me.
Now where did I lay those car keys?