“Forgive”

My brothers and I were used to the crude language and put-downs our dad used with us and our mom. In the worst times he was physically abusive and never satisfied with anything we did. He would hit mom and mock her love of Christ. If revenge is really best served cold, I was filling up the freezer with payback for when I was older and stronger. When the time came that I could, I couldn’t. I realized that if I did, I would have become just like him by hurting the weaker person. As far as I know, he never apologized and it took years for us to forgive him.

Forgiving involves pardoning an offense or an offender. It means ceasing to feel resentment against someone. It is best served with humility, tolerance and sincerity. Our human nature tells us to rally our family and friends around us to try to establish our innocence and the other person’s guilt. Some of the roadblocks to forgiveness are; a stubborn pride, hurt feelings, a desire to punish, resentment and a judgmental attitude.

Spoiler alert! This problem can and does exist among Christians. We almost always feel as if it is the other brethren’s weakness that has caused the problem and that we are the ones showing agape love. I plead guilty in this area.  There are so many warnings in God’s word to do just the opposite. Jesus said,        “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 (Mt 6:14-15) (Mt 18:35) (Rom5:9-10). This is serious stuff and a salvation issue.

The Apostle Paul wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col 3:13-14). No ifs, ands or buts there (Mt 18:35) (Lk 6:37). He also wrote, “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel, instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful” (2 Tim 2:24).

God expects these actions rather than making moral judgements against others, “Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned” (Mt 7:1) (Lk 6:37) (Mk 11:25). It has been said that “Courtesy is contagious.” In our spiritual journey, so are a kind attitude and a forgiving nature.

                                                                                      –Jim Bailey