Forgiveness is always needed but always comes at a cost.
17 Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2 It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied round their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 So watch yourselves.
‘If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying “I repent,” you must forgive them.’
What does it take for us to forgive others?
Social researcher Brene Brown describes a significant moment in church one Sunday when her pastor said that “In order for forgiveness to happen, something has to die. If you make a choice to forgive, you have to face the pain. You simply have to hurt.” She goes on to describe links in her research findings between forgiveness and grief and loss and says “nothing is more generous and loving than the willingness to embrace grief in order to forgive. To be forgiven is to be loved.”
The truth of the gospel of Jesus makes sense of people’s lived experience. For me to be able to forgive another, something in me has to die. For me to be forgiven by my perfect creator, someone had to die, someone had to grieve – God himself.
Paul writes in Romans 6: 1-11 that as a Christian, my old self has died, has been crucified, with Christ, and I am now alive to Christ.
Jesus takes sin seriously. We are to watch ourselves, so that we don’t cause others to sin. He doesn’t ask us to ignore it when a brother or sister sins against us, but to talk with them about it – to love them enough to call them to repentance.
Jesus takes forgiveness seriously. We are to forgive those who repent not just once or twice, but over and over again.
The freedom to truly love and forgive another comes from the freedom of having been truly loved and forgiven.
Head: What holds you back from forgiving others when they ask you to? What needs to die in you to be able to forgive another person?
Heart: Have you truly known the extent of God’s generous and costly love and forgiveness towards you? How does this change how you feel about yourself? How does it change the way you feel about others?
Hands: Listen to the song below and consider God’s grace towards you. How will you live differently today as a result of God’s forgiveness towards you?
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your generous and costly love towards me. Please search my heart and show me any unforgiveness towards a brother or sister who has repented for sinning against me. Please grant me the courage and grace to love and forgive my brothers and sisters even when it costs me dearly to do so. Amen
A song to listen to: Grace Awaiting Me
Living Church, Creek Road