Characteristics of Christ | FORGIVENESS
A 40 Day Journey to Becoming Like the One We Follow
Day 16: Forgiveness (Matthew 6:14-15)
Mercy and forgiveness go hand in hand. Here's the difference: mercy is something you extend toward someone else. Forgiveness is what you do for your own sake.
Peter asked a question of Jesus. "How many times should I forgive my brother who sins against me. Seven times?" But Jesus replied, "Not seven times, but seventy times seven." In other words, forgiveness is not a finite resource. And forgiveness has more to do with you than with the other person.
The actually Greek word for Forgiveness literally means "to release" or "to exhale." It's like finally letting out that deep breath you've been holding in. Withholding forgiveness is like holding your breath and hoping the other person will suffocate. Forgiveness means you are no longer holding onto that pain and hurt. You are absorbing it and moving on.
It doesn't mean you "forget." We can't forget. We can't pretend like it never happened. Sometimes we need to set strong boundaries and strict expectations after we've been wronged or harmed. That's ok.
But Jesus is clear on the need to forgive. If we don't forgive others, God won't forgive us. It's the same lesson from the story of the unmerciful servant.
As C.S. Lewis said, "To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you." It may take time. It may take a lot of work and effort. But we don't have to hold onto those grudges. We don't have to let those people live rent free in our heads, dragging up all the negative feelings and emotions all the time. We can let go. We can release it.
Let's not forget that even on the cross Jesus cried out, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Whatever it is, give it over to God.