The way Jesus forgives should strengthen our faith in Him.

Before I start, I want to make it clear that I don't think Jesus is saying that forgiveness means we stay in an abusive relationships or situations. However, it is clear that we must be people who forgive because, that is precisely what Jesus does and in His infinite perfection, He does so quickly, repeatedly, and comprehensively.

How impossibly hard is it for us to forgive others? Sure it's easy, or it may seem to be the case, to forgive for a minor infraction. What about for those deep cutting sins that seem to linger a bit longer, or for a life time? This is why we need Jesus. We can't live up to His unbelievably righteous and good standard on our own. We need Him completely and absolutely. Can you, or will you completely forgive someone? I am talking to "me" just as much as I am talking to you.

For this particular subject on forgiveness, I would like to look at three passages in the gospels, that have staggering implications for us. Over and over again, I am reminded that, because of the weight of these truths, no sinful man, apart from Jesus supernatural work, could have dreamed of writing such majestic things in scripture. These truths point to the absolute purity, love, and beauty of Jesus. Last but not least, these truths, like any other, should increase our faith in Christ if He so wills it to.

The first passage can be found in Matt 5:23. Here Jesus is so concerned with our reconciling to each other that He doesn't want us to even offer up a gift until we reconcile. This forgiveness has an urgency and an intimacy to it. It's not just a "no worries", "it's all good", or "it's just water under the bridge" but it seems to be an intentional "let's talk about this a little bit more and get to the bottom of things". So to sum it all up, Jesus wan't us to forgive quickly with deep intent. It's important to restore horizontal relationships because it can effect our vertical relationship with God. For example, 1 Peter 3:7 states, "Likewise,husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered."

The second passage can be found in Matthew 18:21-22 where Peter asks Jesus about how many times to forgive a brother in one day. The point here is we must forgive repeatedly. So we are not only called to forgive quickly but repeatedly.

The third passage is the most graphic in it's display of the majestic forgiveness of Jesus and it's found in right after the passage above in Matthew 18:23-35. Without going into the details of this passage, the overall message is: how can I withhold forgiveness to someone for an infinitely small sin committed against me but gladly accept the forgiveness of God for the infinitely large sin I have committed against Him? This forgiveness that Jesus offers us is comprehensive. It covers past, present, and future sins. It covers the most vilest sins by societal standards, to white lies, to traffic infractions.

So what do we have here? Jesus calls us to forgive quickly, repeatedly, and comprehensively. This is an impossible task without Him. He calls us to cling to Him and trust Him. This all hinges on His life, death, and resurrection. If we trust Him and believe what He has done for us then surely He will help us forgive in this manner, and in doing so, will increase our faith in Him.



Carl Binger LMHC

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