Leading to Easter, I have looked for new or renewed insight in the death and resurrection of Jesus. As I read, my eyes and thoughts keep lingering on the word and action FORGIVE. Not forgive if…., or forgive when…., just forgive.
What a nightmare! Jesus was betrayed and disowned by some of his closest followers, friends, brothers. He then endured some of the most inhumane abuse. He was mocked, taunted, stripped, beaten….nailed to a cross to die while a murderer was set free. The mocking and taunting continued as he hung in pain. YET Jesus forgave.
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34 NLT
Still, the verbal abuse continued. Two criminals were also crucified that day; one on each side of Jesus. One of those criminals joined in with the jeering. The other criminal reprimanded him, and said they were getting what they deserved, but that Jesus had done nothing wrong.
“But the other criminal protested, ‘Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.’
And Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.'” Luke 23:40-43 NLT
Jesus forgave. This is the example we have of forgiveness. Jesus will forgive us, and He wants us to forgive others. In Matthew 7:1-2, Jesus said, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” NLT God holds us to the same standards we hold for others.
Do I forgive readily? Do I put conditions on my forgiveness? God forgives without condition. I should recognize my need to forgive others with the humility of having been forgiven for so much myself. I need to forgive whether the offender is remorseful, apologizes, or asks for forgiveness.
When we harbor unforgiveness, in the long run it hurts us more than the offender. We let it simmer and fester causing bitterness, resentment, and hate to build within us. It makes us miserable, and soon we make those around us miserable as well. In Hebrews, we are warned to watch out, and not let bitterness take root in our lives because it will cause trouble to many. (see Heb. 12:15)
Now, there are two things I want you to ponder. First, do you need to ask Jesus to forgive you? We all are sinners, and need His forgiveness. Ask Him to forgive you today. He will forgive you. Second, are you holding on to a grudge? Do you need to forgive someone? Don’t wait; forgive now!