“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” – C.S. Lewis
Can we get this?
In my observation, one of the most deadening poisons to a Christian soul is the inability, or rather unwillingness, to forgive. Hurts and wounds, that are often (but not always) very real, can be nursed, nourished, watered, and tended for years.
We’ve been working through the Sermon on the Mount in the College and Young Singles class for the past few months. Last week I got to teach on Matthew 6:1-18 (my notes here). It contains this jarring statement from Jesus:
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Jesus makes a point in this passage to reiterate that aspect of the Model Prayer (Matthew 6:8-13) that deals with forgiveness.
I’ve learned, when teaching on Jesus, to pay close attention to the things He chooses to repeat in His teaching.
I’ve discovered that forgiveness is a favorite topic of repetition for Jesus. For example, consider Matthew 18:21-22, which is followed by the devastating parable of the unforgiving servant starting in verse 23.
Jesus wants us to forgive. He knows how much forgiveness costs. He knows the agony of the whips and the nails. But that was His mission. Thank God He didn’t consider forgiving us to be impossible.
Why do we so often feel that forgiving others is an out-of-the-question non-starter?