Bible Society of South Africa

Redeem regrets: Forgive generously – 3 August 2020

By Louise Gevers

Bible text(s)

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?”

22“No, not seven times,” answered Jesus, “but seventy times seven,

Matthew 18:21-22GNBOpen in Bible reader

Forgiveness begins with Jesus. His answer to Peter reveals how important it is to forgive and contrasts the human and divine understanding of this quality. To Peter, to forgive someone seven times, is generous; but to Jesus forgiveness is limitless. Though sinless Himself, He would prove this by willingly dying for the sinful people who had caused His suffering and death, holding nothing against them, but praying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

We struggle to forgive superficial wounds, and stubbornly hold onto comparatively small injustices, yet deep down we are really no better than the person who has hurt us and our pride. What greater example of love could we have? If Jesus had died for us grudgingly, showing a similar spirit to the unrepentant thief on the cross, He would have been the same as anyone else; instead He showed that love and forgiveness come through selflessness, something He would expect of His followers.

Jesus sets the example to choose to forgive and be free of bitterness and bondage. Corrie Ten Boom reminds us that, “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and… can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” When we’re obedient to God, He gives us the grace to carry out His will. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

God’s love restores broken people and broken situations; sometimes He works through mysterious circumstances to do so. But when He forgives, He doesn’t just restore us like an old car, renovated nicely and touched up, but is, essentially, a make-over. God restores in a way that transforms us and makes us completely new again. Such is the power of forgiveness.

God’s forgiveness makes the beauty of redemptive love in a person’s life possible. “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” (Isaiah 44:22) Learning from Him, and practising forgiveness daily, conquers conflict and resentment, and stops bitterness taking root. To forgive others from the heart, as God does, and then move on, frees us from resentment, makes us humble and restores love. In forgiving another, we acknowledge that we are not perfect, and recognise that, like us, those who have hurt us are also fallible human beings and ‘there but for the grace of God go I.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

Prayer: Father, We need Your unconditional love, forgiveness and restoration. Help us to be generous like You, and to treat those who hurt us with the compassion and understanding that we would like to receive ourselves. Lord Jesus, thank You for Your example. Holy Spirit, thank You for Your strength. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.18.11
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