Why should I forgive that?!

This is how you should pray… Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us. (Matthew 6:12)

Jesus answered, “Two people owed money to a certain money-lender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. (Luke 7:40-43)
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)
I wonder what you’d say was the worst thing that anyone has ever done to you. I shudder to think what it might be. We live in a world that has rejected its loving Creator and, as a result, people do truly awful things to one another. Does God really expect his children to forgive even the worst of the things that have been done to them?

Surprisingly, our biggest struggles with unforgiveness often concern the actions of those who are closest to us. Parents, spouses, friends; people whose actions might seem trivial on the scale of human wickedness, or whose hurt was unintended, but somehow their closeness makes it feel impossible to move on from the pain we felt.

The clear answer is yes, God does expect us to forgive – in fact he commands it! And, thankfully, what God commands he also enables. The starting point is to face up to the enormity of our debt to him. We often trivialise the extent of our sin by comparing ourselves to other people, but we gain a clearer perspective when we keep the focus purely on Jesus and recognise that, even if it was only our own sin that needed to be accounted for, the terrible price would still have been the cross! The debt of our sin was incalculable, yet Jesus paid it in full.  The eternal delight of the Father in the worthiness of his Son, marred as he became sin for us and poured out his life blood as the means of our forgiveness. If we are serious about learning how to truly forgive – then this is where we must begin. All of our sacrifice in forgiving people flows from God’s sacrifice in forgiving us.
1)   Do you think of yourself as someone who has been forgiven a little, or a lot?
2)   Can you imagine what it would be like to be aware of your debt to God and yet have no one to pay it for you?
3)   Read Isaiah 53:4-6 again slowly, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal more of the depth of what is being described here. Focus particularly on the things that Jesus experienced (e.g. stricken, pierced, crushed) and on the reasons why he experienced those things (e.g. our transgression, our iniquities). Why not take a moment right now to thank Jesus for the lengths he went to in order to pay your debt?
4)   Is there anyone who comes to mind right now who you couldn’t possibly imagine forgiving? Describe to God how you are feeling as you think about them and what they did. You may not be ready to forgive yet – but being honest with God about how you feel is often a very important part of the process.
Dear Lord Jesus, I acknowledge the depth of my sin against you and I am so grateful to you for paying my debt in full at the cross. Please help me to learn how to show the same generosity in my dealings with others. You know the individuals that I can’t imagine forgiving right now – I trust you to gently lead me as I learn what it means to truly forgive from my heart. Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were written by David Featherstone.

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