New Beginnings: Forgiveness already - 26 January 2022

By Louise Gevers

I found myself in a predicament one day when I had something important to deliver to a friend and there was nowhere to park. Even after driving around the block there wasn’t any parking when I returned and I uneasily decided to park in front of the communal gate, reasoning that I would be literally running in and out and would be back before anyone came.

To my dismay, as quick as I was, I came out just in time to see a car pulling over, unable to drive in at the gate. I was filled with guilt at what I’d wittingly done and prepared to apologise. But I needn’t have worried. Before I could say anything, with a huge smile on his face, he called out the window, “I forgive you already!”

Those were wonderful words for a penitent to hear, made more valuable by the genuine smile. I drove away encouraged in my spirit, grateful for the tangible difference that his generosity of heart had made to a tricky situation. Not often are people willing to control anger, blame and resentment towards someone who has wronged them; yet living in an attitude of forgiveness is vital to our wellbeing. Jesus’ words to us today remind us that God forgives our sins once we’ve forgiven anyone we’re holding a grudge against. (Mark 11.25)

Forgiveness helps people to live in harmony. In Proverbs 17:9 we read, “He who covers over an offence promotes love.” Could we imagine the impact it would have on road rage, or any other testy situation or altercation, if everyone would keep these wise words uppermost in their minds, and make forgiveness the norm.

According to Solomon, “Hate stirs up trouble, but love forgives all offences. (Proverbs 10:12) Reluctance to forgive stems from pride and unwillingness to let go of hurt, which creates further hurt and discord, but choosing to forgive and surrendering our pride, though very difficult at times , means that love wins and heaven rejoices because it has eternal consequences.

We need only think of Jesus’ words from the cross, born of love and grace, to understand the power and significance of forgiveness to encourage us. For Jesus to look into the faces of His enemies, calling for His death, and be able to say, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”, (Luke 23:34) changed their lives, and ours, forever. As His followers, God has, “rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14)

Paul reminds the Colossians to, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

May we take his reminder as an encouragement to live each day in the power and peace of forgiveness.

Prayer: Father, help us to “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ (You) forgave (us)”. (Ephesians 4:32) May Your love shine through us. Amen