And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV)
The Bible tells us that we must forgive in order to be forgiven. What a challenge. The words may come easily, but how often do we then find ourselves reliving the incident in our minds, refusing to let it go? Is that forgiveness? We tell children not to pick at a knee scab, because it inflicts more pain and delays the healing. Ruminating on a hurt is like that. And dwelling on the past costs us precious time in the present. Perhaps true forgiveness means trying our best to turn our thoughts from the past to the future, giving the wound time to heal.
When our son was in the first grade, I discovered that he was being bullied – physically hurt – by a much bigger boy. The school insisted on having the children meet with the principal without their parents present. I was surprised to hear that the other child confessed, saying, “I did it because I wanted to be his friend,” a response prompted by his own childish logic. Nonetheless, he was instructed to keep his distance from our son.
A few months later, when it was time to send out birthday party invitations, my son asked to invite the “bully.” I admit to being quite startled but collected myself and asked what prompted the thought. He replied, “Well, he said that he wanted to be my friend, so I thought I should give him the chance.” A lesson in grace taught by a child who was releasing the hurt and replacing it with hope — and giving the offender hope in the process.
In the Lord’s Prayer, we ask God to forgive us as we forgive those who sin against us. So how does God forgive? Without hesitation. Unconditionally. Completely. That’s what we are called to do.
It may take a lifetime of practice. But with the Holy Spirit’s help, as we strive to be more like Jesus, we can learn to forgive as we should – maybe even with the simplicity and humility of a little child.
Prayer: God of all, we thank you that when we repent, you no longer remember our sins. Please teach us to forgive others as you forgive us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Written by Joy Preacher