Forgiveness

By Heather Hanton

Forgiveness

Over the past few weeks at our corps we have been looking at the good and beautiful community and what it means to live in community. We’ve looked at the hopeful community, the serving community, Christ-centered including holiness. And this week we studied about reconciliation in the community. Forgiveness.

Jesus talked a lot about forgiveness. Clearly it was something that people have struggled with – even believers for a long time. Let’s see what he says about it:

Matthew 5:7 – Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Luke 6:27-28 – Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Luke 6:12 – Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Luke 15 – the parable of the lost son shows us the beautiful example of how the father forgives us. That’s how we should forgive.

Matthew 6:14-15 – “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 18:21-22 – Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Some translations say 77 times but the point is, it is more than 7!)

Jesus goes on to tell the parable of the king who forgave his servant who of an enormous debt. But the servant did not forgive someone in his life who owed him a fraction of what he owed the king. When the king found out, he reinstated the debt and put the man in prison until he could repay all of it.

Then he delivers the blow: verse 35: “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”

Jesus was serious about forgiveness. There is no “grey area” when it comes to this.

Jesus set the ultimate example of forgiveness by dying for our sins before we ever knew we needed a savior.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

We receive forgiveness for our sins the moment we ask God for it. But our human relationships may take more time and maybe some hard work.

Especially when you’ve been hurt. Forgiveness may take time and sometimes your relationship is altered because of the hurt. But other times God calls us to forgive and offer friendship – to love our enemies.

That is hard. Our first instinct is to want revenge or to set up boundaries. I’ll forgive them but I don’t want to be hurt again so I’m not going to be in relationship with that person. And sometimes that is perfectly fine. Boundaries are a good thing.

But sometimes God calls us to love even that person and wants us to offer complete reconciliation and restoration. In some cases God can use this very thing to show that person His agape love – no strings attached. No prerequisites. Just pure, unconditional, relentless love.

Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another just as God in Christ forgave you, so you too must forgive one another.

So today, think about how the Father has forgiven you. And then ask Him how and who he wants you to forgive. Then allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in the healing process – leading you to complete reconciliation.

Heather Hanton
Media and Ministries Specialist
The Salvation Army Central Territory
Women’s Ministries Department

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