Forgiveness. It’s the very reason for the death (and resurrection) of Jesus. While his sacrifice (dying for our sins) is a concept that we find difficult to understand these days, forgiveness is the point. We have to remember that the long-held belief, understanding, and practice by people who worshipped and believed in God in the millennia leading up to the first century was that sacrifices had to be offered to God to obtain forgiveness. Jesus made that practice unnecessary. Forgiveness became more user-friendly for sinners -- simply ask and ye shall receive. Of course, there is a little more to it. There are some givens or prerequisites.
First, you have to believe in God and care what he thinks of you. You have to believe that God is good – pure goodness. And, you have to want to be in relationship with him. In order to be in relationship with him, you want to be sin-free. And you have to appreciate that we aren’t sin-free and can’t be on our own. The only way we can walk in the light (with God) is to be forgiven. And to be forgiven we simply must be loved and ask, and we are loved – that is grace. We simply must appreciate that we’ve done wrong and want to be forgiven – ask. Forgiveness -- we can’t buy it, work it, leverage it, steal it, or luck into it. And that is a given.
God has the capacity to forgive everyone. Everyone. And if he can forgive you, you can forgive yourself. But it doesn’t end there. We must also forgive others. Forgiveness as between God and the sinner, that’s one thing and the process and givens set forth above apply. But so far as our forgiveness of others? It must be freely given regardless of whether there is repentance or an asking. We are better off doing it that way. Should we ask for forgiveness from others when we wrong them? Sure. But what if someone doesn’t ask? Give it anyway? You bet. With forgiveness goes bitterness, rage, anger, disappointment, frustration, and all forms of malice. Let it go. That’s grace. That’s peace. That’s love.
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