One of the hardest things to do in life is to ask for forgiveness. The second and equally hard thing to do is to forgive others for their actions against us. We have become a society where being self-centered dominates our emotions. The world does not teach us to forgive. It tells us to do what we want and be who we want to be. Other peoples feelings don't matter when you put yourself first.
Why does it even matter to receive forgiveness or ask for forgiveness from others? If you think that forgiveness is about the other person, then think again. The Bible speaks many times about the topic of forgiveness. One of my favorite verses is found in the book of Mark.
Mark 11:25 NASB “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.”
That is a pretty powerful verse, isn't it? How can we possibly expect God to forgive us of our sins if we cannot forgive others who have sinned against us? I am sure that some of you are saying, but Shawn, you don't understand. The person did _____ to me. You fill in the blank. The person may have been rude, mean, disrespectful, abusive or they may have even killed someone. Mark 11:25 does not specify what sin should be forgiven and what sin shouldn't. All we are told to do is forgive anyone for anything. That would include the things above and anything else that you are harboring inside keeping you from forgiving someone.
Forgiveness sets us free.
I am sure that you have heard the line before “forgive and forget.” As Christians, we are called to forgive, that does not mean we forget. Forgiveness allows us to release ourselves from the sinful nature generated by harboring a grudge. Forgiving someone does not mean that you have to erase the memory from your mind. If we want to find ourselves right with God, then we must forgive others when they wrong us.
Remember when you eat of the bread and drink of the cup during communion? Most of us partake of communion on a regular basis. Do you find yourself remembering Jesus by harboring ill will towards other brothers and sisters in Christ? If you do, then you shouldn't be eating the bread or drinking from the cup.
Matthew 6:15 NASB “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”
We shouldn't be partaking in communion if we do not forgive others. When we do not release others from their transgressions against us, then our heavenly Father will not forgive us. In order to follow God's will for our life, we must forgive others not seven times but seventy seven times.
Here is your homework check out Matthew 18:21-22 and see what Jesus says about forgiveness.