We all need to take time to experience God in our personal lives. One of the fundamental ways to experience God’s love is to keep our relationships with people in order. This doesn’t mean that we will have sweet fellowship with everybody, but we are called to be forgiving.
1Jn 2 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.
Ed Dobson was a pastor of a large church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He sadly contracted ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), or better known to us as; Motor Neurone Disease. His condition forced him to retire. This gave him more time to reflect on his life and ministry. He realized he had a number of people he needed to forgive. He made a list; and made visits to seek their forgiveness. This is a brave story of forgiveness, but Christian behaviour must have the courage to forgive.
Christians want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but often lack being filled with forgiveness. We pray for revival, but we still have people we need to forgive. Unforgiveness and revival cannot mix. Revival is a personal experience first, and it flows from hearts willing to be humbled by God.
The apostle Peter posed the question to Jesus; “how many times must I forgive; seven times?” Jesus insisted that the number was seventy seven times. He explains the essence of forgiveness in the following parable of the unmerciful servant (Mt 18). The King (God) cancelled the servant’s (us) debt. But the servant didn’t apply this same forgiveness to others. The end result is tragic; the King has the servant handed over to the tormentors. Jesus concludes the parable with the sobering words; “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Jesus himself lead the way in the stakes of forgiveness expressed so powerfully on the cross; “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. (Lk. 23:34). Stephen who was martyred (Acts 7) repeated similar words; “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” This kind of forgiveness can only be found in and through God.
Sometimes we just don’t have what it takes; it is at this point we need God to step in. If your past is too painful; invite the Lord to give you strength to forgive. Find someone who can help and pray with you. Why forgive? God’s forgiveness is not cheap; it came with a horrendous cost, paid by Jesus at the cross. Moreover, God wants us to be free from being tormented, and finally God demands and commands us to.