Like manners, forgiveness is a learned skill only developed with time. The act of forgiveness is as important as the concept of apology. I still recall being “forced” as a child to tell my sister I forgave her for “stealing” something from me. My “verbal” forgiveness did little to calm the “rage” inside that I presume other middle children can appreciate. I recall my parents’ repeated counsel that dwelling on the past, risks the opportunities of the present; reminding me “Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner.” These childhood lessons are the teachings of the Bible. As we say routinely with the Lord’s Prayer, “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” As I grew older, I understood my parents’ commitment to teaching us forgiveness. I knew I was not perfect and had wronged others just as I had been wronged. Because we are sinners we should forgive others. Matthew 6:14-15.
The Bible repeatedly teaches us that “when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25. This act of granting forgiveness to others releases our sins in God’s eyes, setting us free to reach for those goals and receive God’s blessings. The Bible guides us that we must “Bear with each other and forgive one another …. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13. And in any conflict between pride and doggedness, forgiveness must win. For when Peter asked “‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!’” Matthew 18:21-22.
In closing, let us remember “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Friends and members of our Christ Church family have prepared these daily reflections as a means for you to consider how forgiveness informs your faith walk during this holy season. They are a richly diverse group from many different geographies around our nation and globe, formed by a wide variety of traditions.