A Spanish father and son had a falling out, and the son ran away. The father, overcome with remorse about how he had treated his son, and having looked for months for him, in desperation ran this ad in the Madrid newspaper: “Paco, meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon on Friday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your father.” That Friday at noon, in front of the newspaper office, 800 Pacos showed up, all of them looking for love and forgiveness from their fathers.
Unforgiveness is a terrible alien for anyone to harbor, especially followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. He concluded His model prayer with the admonition, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt 6: 14,15)
In his book The Progress of the Jesuits, James Broderick observed that Pope Paul IV “never forgot…incidents, which was one of his fundamental weaknesses. He might bury the hatchet for a time, but he gave the impression of always carefully marking the spot.” (From Haddon Robinson, “How Much Can You Forgive?”)
Believers simply cannot live with a spirit of unforgiveness: “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Col. 3:13)
Jesus related a kingdom of heaven parable about a man who had been forgiven a staggering debt (10,000 talents). He then found a man who owed him 100 pence but could not pay and, turning a deaf ear to the debtor’s piteous pleas, had him thrown into prison until he could pay all. When the lord who had forgiven the heartless man a huge sum heard of this travesty, he found the wicked servant and “delivered him to the tormentors till he should pay all that was due unto him.” Jesus concluded with this lesson: “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” (Matt. 18:23-35)
It is a dreadful plight to be turned over to the tormentors. Maybe the leader of the tormenting pack is bitterness. You go to bed with it, nurse it through the night, and when you are exhausted by the dawn of day, there it is in your day’s first thoughts. But bitterness is not alone in the tormenting troupe: there follows close by anger, resentment, hatred, envy, malice, scorn and, yes, even murder. Oh, did I mention guilt, pride, loneliness, sorrow, and memory as cousin tormenters of bitterness? It is a plague that only the grace of God, with His unfathomable forgiveness, can cure. The price one pays for allowing these spiritual renegades to take up residence in one’s heart is too horrific to describe!
Struggling with these tormenters? If so, camp on Eph. 4:31,32: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Robert Lee, President of the Confederacy during the Civil War, was known as a man who could forgive his enemies, never holding a grudge. On one occasion, he met a woman who laboriously lamented the fact that during the war, soldiers had scarred a beautiful and treasured tree that had adorned the front yard of her family’s home for decades. When given the opportunity to respond, having listened patiently for quite a while, the general said, “Cut it down, madam, and let it go.”
Forgiveness: it must be a priority. You will not be forgiven unless you first forgive.
- The Prerequisites for forgiveness: a desire to please God; a willingness to abandon personal rights; cultivating a love for others as God loves you; and a moment by moment walking in the Spirit.
- The Principle of forgiveness: unconditional and unending: 70×7 plus.
- The Practice of forgiveness: “As God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
- The Price of forgiveness: Your pride: confession, humility, repentance.
- The Pattern: of forgiveness: “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave thy gift…go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” (Matt.5:23, 24)
- The Process of forgiveness: It begins with the new birth and ends with the new body.
- The Prize: An assurance of answered prayers; enhanced ability to love, and deliverance from the tormentors. (Mark 11:25, 26; Luke 7:47; Matt. 18:15)
When Leonardo da Vinci was painting his masterpiece, The Last Supper, he became quite angry with a friend, launching into a tirade of hot and bitter words, even threatening the friend with vengeance. Returning to his canvas, he began to paint the face of Jesus. He found, however, that he was so perturbed that he could not compose himself sufficiently for the delicate work before him. He went out immediately, sought his friend, and humbly asked for forgiveness. Then the artist was able to return to complete the work at hand as he finished painting the face of the Savior. (Copied/Unknown)
Forgiveness is powerful. Give it a try!
“Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (Matt.18:21, 22)