Forgiveness, its a tough topic. We all need it and we all need to give it as well. But it’s just not that easy. We’ve all been hurt, we’ve all been wronged, treated unfairly, treated unjustly, maybe we’ve experienced harm at the hands of others. Sadly, maybe there have been those times when we were the one causing the hurt, inflicting the pain or perpetrating the injustice upon another person. So we may find ourselves in need of forgiveness as often as we find ourselves needing to extend our forgiveness to someone we know.
Peter asked Jesus about forgiveness saying, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus’ answer was, “I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matt.18:21-22) This is also translated seventy times seven, either way expressing that we are not to put a limit on our forgiveness of others, just as God’s forgiveness towards us is infinite and without limit. This is very good news because I know I can’t go a day without needing my Heavenly Father’s forgiveness many times in the course of that day. And I may also be called upon to offer my forgiveness to others often in the course of that same day. So I become both the forgiven and the forgiver. It is precisely because I am the forgiven that I can also be the forgiver. Because I am forgiven by my Heavenly Father, (1 John 1:9), I can practice forgiveness and become the forgiver of those who wrong me.
God’s love leads me to do this. He compels me to forgive, He commands me to forgive. And He empowers me to forgive, to obey Him in practicing forgiveness towards all. In the Lord’s prayer we ask to be forgiven our sins just as we forgive those who sin against us. The two actions are linked and cannot be separated in theory or in practice. If I refuse to forgive, how can I expect to be forgiven?
Yet, sometimes I hold on to my hurt, to my anger, to my injury at the hands of another. Someone has wronged me, I have suffered an injustice and I refuse to let it go. I wear it as a badge of honor, I have suffered, I have been mistreated. But the badge becomes a burden, the bearing of which destroys the bearer. Jesus was mistreated, He was falsely accused, persecuted and unjustly put to death. Yet His words as He hung on the cross were, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
The religious leaders of that day brought before Jesus a woman caught in adultery. The laws of that time required death by stoning for such an offense. They asked Jesus about this woman and his reply was, ” He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. ” John 8:7
I have no stone in my hand to cast, only my sins both present and past; but I have no stone
I am the woman at the well, I am the leper, I am lame; and I have no stone
I have logs in my eyes, I have pride, I have shame; but I have no stone
I am the blind man by the roadside, I’m the beggar by the pool; and I have no stone
I am the rich young ruler, I’m thought wise but am a fool; and I have no stone
I am the woman who poured perfume, I’m the Pharisee who prayed; I have no stone
I am Peter who denied Him, I am those who should have stayed; I have no stone
I have a heart that’s hurting, I have many a regret; but I have no stone
I have the joy of His forgiveness, I have the hope His love begets; but I have no stone
I have feet that refuse to follow where He would bid me go, I have sins of scarlet, His mercy made them snow; but I have no stone
I have the joy and comfort of His unending grace, I have the hope that on that day I’ll see Him face to face; but I have no stone
I have hands full of the good gifts, God alone can give; Forgiveness, His greatest, for eternity will live I will never have a stone
Your debt is not large, though it caused me much grief; In releasing you, I find my relief; I will never have a stone to cast, God has forgiven me my past; I have no stone
The religious leaders accusing the woman slipped away, one by one, until just Jesus and the woman were left. Then Jesus asked her, “Where are your accusers? has no one condemned you?” She answered Him, “no one, Lord” and Jesus told her, ” Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more.”
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1
sincerely, Grace Day