Love Forgives

Robin WilliamsonPosted on Monday, February 4, 2013 by Revd. Robin Williamson

“Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

We’ve been thinking about our motto, “Here to love God and people” and especially for the love to be true and worked out among us in practical ways. If we are truly loving, we must somehow truly forgive, not only for the other’s sake but also for ourselves. I believe that it is impossible to truly love someone if we have unforgiveness towards them.

The story Jesus told in answer to Peter’s question of how often we should forgive is one we probably know. The servant who owed the King millions of pounds was forgiven by the king, and yet then went to someone who owed him a few pounds and refused to let him off, but had him thrown into prison until he could pay back in full. It’s easy for us to feel how wicked that servant. How awful! How could he do that?

And yet – are we any better? Do we really forgive from the heart – and completely? Perhaps we’ve not grabbed someone’s throat and had them popped in prison – but let’s just reflect for a moment.

The Lord Jesus gave himself for each of us: we’re forgiven: so if we fail to forgive completely where we’ve been wronged – aren’t we behaving in a sense like the servant?

Jesus clearly taught us in the Lord’s Prayer: ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us’. Or as Bishop Tom Wright puts it in his translation, ‘Forgive us the things we owe as we too have forgiven what was owed to us’.

So if we are seeking to follow Christ – it seems to me there is no option we must forgive one another. But it’s not necessarily easy. I might find it fairly easy to forgive Helen if she leaves the loo seat cover up, or were she to leave the toothpaste top off, but how would I feel if my family had been butchered in Rwanda, or my son stabbed and killed in a knife attack?

If you put the word ‘forgiveness’ into Google, there is a site where there are lots of stories of people who have been through atrocious things and yet have managed to forgive.

Forgiveness does not necessarily mean that we forget – we may not be able to wipe away awful memories, particularly if we have say suffered awful abuse from someone we know – but I passionately believe that somehow we must be able to get to the point where, with Christ’s help, the burning smouldering anger and repulsion go and we can experience freedom and cleansing.

(As at the moment, we are in interregnum and in a time of change for St Luke’s, things are different – and it’s vital that we don’t let little things annoy us and get under our skin. Let’s do all we can to be loving and kind and honest with one another.)

So how do we begin to learn to forgive?

  • Coming to Holy Communion is a wonderful place to start: Jesus said “Drink this, all of you: this is my blood of the new covenant, which is given for you for the forgiveness of sins – do this in remembrance of me”
  • Realise that Christ has completely forgiven us!
  • If we are convinced Jesus has forgiven us – we are much more likely to be able to forgive
  • As we come to receive the bread and wine, we can ask the Holy Spirit if there is anyone we need to forgive – and also for the strength and ability to do it!
  • It may be that we need help from another person we trust – perhaps a friend in a home group or the prayer ministry team – or even a priest! To be able to receive God’s forgiveness – or to be able to forgive another.

In conclusion: why should we forgive? Jesus says we must! How? Say sorry – meaning it – and perhaps doing something practical (flowers or a card) to demonstrate it.

How often? 77 times – i.e. unlimited – on and on and on.

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