“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”. Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)
Our focus scripture for today is a reminder that God has an expectation of us in the area of forgiveness. We often recite so easily ‘‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’. - God is holding us to this very line. Yet how often do we think that our own unforgiveness is a barrier to accessing God’s forgiveness? There are many scriptures in the Bible that reiterate that forgiveness is reciprocal. God forgave us, so we forgive others. Countless times we read phrases such as ‘forgive as the Lord forgave you’, or ‘forgive and you will be forgiven’. As you reflect today, ask yourself sincerely, are you holding your end of the bargain up?
You may be tempted to lean on the laurels of grace here and ask “What about grace? Surely, grace gives us access to an endless supply of forgiveness?” You may have had the mindset that there is an allowance of grace so that we can forgive at a convenient time after we have nursed the unforgiveness we have allowed to live in our hearts. However, Hebrews 10:26 says this; ‘If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,’ or in other words, if we chose to hold on to unforgiveness after knowing that we must forgive as Christ forgives us, there is no more forgiveness left. Ouch!
The reality of God’s Word is that there isn’t an optimal, or most convenient time to forgive. The Bible says while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Our forgiveness came before we were repentant. We must develop a habit to ‘forgive daily’ just as we require God’s daily forgiveness. Whether big or small, if it offended you, the onus is on you to let it go. Stretch your muscles of forgiveness so that it becomes a lifestyle and not a chore.
During this season of fasting, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you, which people you need to wholeheartedly forgive. Add forgiveness to your list of things you need to deal with for this year ahead. Forgiveness is a gift given to us by God. Every single day we need to use it, or we might just lose it.
Further Study: Luke 6:37, Colossians 3:13, Mark 11:25, Matthew 18:21-35