[PC-USA] 1998-07-17 - Forgiveness Goes Two Ways

Originally Published 1996-12-11

I was reading in Matthew recently, and saw once again, a verse that, as many times as I have read it, still has the power to startle me:
Mat 6:15 (NIV) But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Christ's words are pretty clear, aren't they. He doesn't mention exceptions. He says it when He teaches His disciples how to pray, also:

Mat 6:12 (NIV) Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

If we are harboring any unforgiveness against anyone, it creates a block between us and our Heavenly Father. Yes, even when people have not asked to be forgiven, we must follow Christ's example, as He forgave those who crucified Him:

Luke 23:34 (NIV) Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up His clothes by casting lots.

Don't get me wrong. God does not expect us to condone sins that others have committed against us. That is unScriptural. It is right to hold people responsible for their behavior. It is actually good for them spiritually, anyway. However, we can hold people responsible, and yet still forgive them.

When we forgive those who have wronged us, we reconnect with God. In addition, we find release and peace internally. I want to share with you, as best as I can remember it, a little poem. I am sorry that I cannot remember the author. It goes something like this:

I forgave to set the prisoner free,
Only to find that the prisoner had been me.

Dear Father, please help us to forgive those who have wronged us. Help us to follow Christ's example. In Jesus' name, Amen.