God’s precious promises – Day 19

The promise of forgiveness

To be genuinely sorry for doing wrong and asking to be forgiven takes a special sort of courage. To take the initiative and forgive someone who has wronged you is even more difficult.

The apostle Peter once sought the Lord’s advice on forgiveness: “ ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times’ ” (Matthew 18:21-22).

Peter’s question is one with which people often wrestle. The Bible is uncompromising on the importance of having a right relationship both with God and with each other.

Our text contains the promise: “Your heavenly Father will forgive you.” No matter how grievously one has sinned, God is eager and willing to forgive.

The first letter of John states: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

The first step we need to take when we seek forgiveness for wronging others, is to pray to God for forgiveness. Our Lord Jesus taught us how to do so: “Forgive us our debts, as we have also forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). Then we need to approach the person we have wronged and try to restore the relationship.

The instruction accompanying today’s promise, applies when someone has wronged you. It is not easy to forgive but nothing is more self-harming than holding grievances and harbouring resentment.

To forgive, but not to forget is not an option for that is not forgiveness at all. We must forgive others totally before we can be forgiven.

To learn how to truly forgive we need to look no further than our Lord Jesus Christ. Hanging on the cross in excruciating pain for your sins and mine, he prayed: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

God forgave us our sins and he calls on us to do the same.