Forgiveness: The missing balm – Part 2
When Jesus met the woman of Samaria, He obviously knew everything about her.
Jesus knew about the existing cultural divide between the Jews and the Samaritans that predated His period.
Despite the cultural differences, Jesus still treated the woman with candour.
He did not allow the cultural differences to becloud His judgment about this lady or make Him cast aspersion on her.
Jesus treated her with respect and dignity, even when He revealed to her previous marital relations.
He was not judgmental about her past. Some of us have inherited national, cultural and sectional prejudices, which we must discard.
The other example is from the story of the Prodigal son. The story also has lessons on forgiveness that we must learn.
When the Prodigal son squandered his wealth, he came to his senses and decided to go back to his father. His father was not retributive in his dealings with his son.
He forgave him without any precondition or retribution. He went a step further to organise a party in his honour to welcome him. This story reveals to us the heart and character of our Heavenly Father, Who is so gracious, forgiving and compassionate.
The third example is found in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Mt.18: 21-35). Jesus was responding to a question from Peter in this Parable.
Our Lord Jesus represents the King in this Parable, who forgave his debtors and expected His servants to extend the same forgiveness to those who owe them.
In Lk.6: 37b, Jesus said, “Forgive and you will be forgiven.”
The apostle John says God is so eager to forgive us our sins, if only we shall confess them.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). On the other hand, the Psalmist says God forgives us of all our iniquities.
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Who forgives all our iniquities, who heals all our diseases.” (Psalm 103:2, 3).
It is the graciousness and eagerness of God to forgive sins that adds to His reverential awe.
In Psalm 130:3,4 he states, “If you LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who would stand? But there is forgiveness with you that you may be feared.”
God is always willing to forgive and as His children, He expects us to show the same character.
Some of the common questions that are often asked about forgiveness are: What happens if the other person does not accept that he or she was wrong, do I still forgive him or her? What happens if my opponent is always trying to harm me?
What happens if my partner repeatedly does the same thing and does not want to change?
These are real life issues that we cannot deal with in this article.
Let me remind us of what Jesus’ answer to Peter was in Matthew. 18:21-22. He said if our brother sins against us, we should forgive him as much as seventy times seven.
The truth is that Jesus faced all these offences and yet He forgave His adversaries. Hebrews 4:15b says, “…but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Living like Christ did is never easy but possible. Only by His grace can we forgive others. This is why we need the Holy Spirit’s help to forgive those who offend us.
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