Make Forgiveness a Daily Practice
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (niv)
“For if you forgive others 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 (tniv)
I was sitting at lunch with a longtime close friend, complaining (again!) about something my husband had done or neglected to do. She listened compassionately, but then firmly asked: “Keri, have you ever forgiven Scot for just being who he is?”
This friend knows a thing or two about extravagant forgiveness. As her alcoholic father was dying, unrepentant about the many ways in which he had damaged his family, she went to care for him. She had to forgive him for being who he was.
Forgiveness is a daily practice for Christ followers. The word forgiving in Ephesians 4 implies an ongoing activity. Jesus tells us to forgive when others sin against us, not if. It’s going to happen again and again.
So often, I want to hold on to grudges, build a case out of a thousand small injuries. But Jesus strictly warns that God won’t forgive us if we don’t forgive others. Further, lack of forgiveness keeps us in pain: “When you refuse to forgive, you are giving the person who walloped you once the privilege of hurting you all over again—in your memory,” Lew Smedes, a former professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, says. “The first person who benefits from the forgiving is the person who does the forgiving. Forgiving is, first of all, a way of helping yourself to get free of the unfair pain somebody caused you.”
FAITH STEP: Who do you need to forgive today? Who is hurting you over and over, in your memory? Let yourself be free of that pain by forgiving that person, even if they are unrepentant or unaware of the pain they caused.
Written by Keri Wyatt Kent