Forgiving Is A Lifetime Challenge, Few Want To Meet
“How many times do you expect me to forgive you?” Ed asked me. I had said to him, “Forgive me for saying this, but the Saskatchewan Roughriders need a good deal more fine tuning this season.” I had struck a nerve with Ed, and Ed himself will tell you that he is not a forgiving man beyond once. If he needs to forgive you more than once in a day, you’re just plain aggravating and don’t deserve his forgiveness.
My old neighbor says that the only time you forgive people is if you know that it will annoy them good. As far as Ed is concerned, forgiveness is overrated and never changes what has happened one bit. He did not want to hear that when you forgive you change your future not the past. I suggested to Ed that forgiveness is giving up the lie that the past can be changed.
“To forgive or not to forgive is a choice that I make, and if I don’t want to forgive someone, no one can force me,” Ed said bluntly. I believe his perspective on forgiving is one that many folks would agree with. As Christians, we admit that God is way better at forgiveness than we tend to be. God makes it clear that we are to forgive others without limiting the number of times we forgive them.
Christians, are on a lifelong challenge to forgive others as God has forgiven us. We tend to think in terms of others deserving or not deserving our forgiveness. Yet God’s word makes it clear we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We have been forgiven our sins before God by grace or God’s undeserved love and mercy. God no longer counts our sins against us because of our faith in Jesus who kept God’s law perfectly for us and took the punishment of our sins on himself on the cross. We have a free forgiveness from God so that we would freely forgive others.
We dare not take God’s forgiveness for ourselves and then refuse to forgive others. We have freedom as Christians to live as we choose, that is to live for God or ignore Him. His word warns that we do not live to ourselves or die to ourselves alone. As we live and die it will be to the Lord not just to ourselves. The Lord has warned that every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. When we give an account of ourselves standing before judgment seat of God, it will be obvious if we forgave others from our hearts as we lived here on earth.
Jesus tells a parable of a man brought before a king to settle with the king what he owed him which was a huge debt that the man could not pay. The man begged for mercy and the king took pity on him and forgave his huge debt completely. Sadly, when the man had someone who could not pay him a small debt, the man showed him no mercy. The king heard of it and had the man jailed. We cannot have God’s mercy for ourselves but deny mercy to others.