While studying through the Gospel of Matthew tonight, I wrote down a question in my journal that struck a cord with me:
“Am I actively working to forgive others or am I holding onto grudges I should have moved past long ago?”
So much of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount focus on the importance of forgiveness for his disciples.
- “…go first and be reconciled with your brother…” (Matthew 5:24) Jesus tells us that true disciples of the Lord do not hold onto anger, but learn to forgive those who have wronged them.
- “When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.” (Mt 5:39) One of the most famous lines in the bible for a reason. Again Jesus is teaching about the anger we have towards others. There is no use in retaliating against crimes committed against us. Do we serve to gain anything by hurting someone who has hurt us?
- One of the Lord’s final points is one of His most profound: love and forgive your enemies. “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” (Mt 5:44) This is something He finds so important that He not only mentions it twice, but sticks it in the Lord’s Prayer. Forgive my sins, but only forgive them in the way that I forgive those who have sinned against me. We find it hard to forgive those close to us, let alone those we don’t have positive relationships with. But if God forgives us based on the way that we forgive others (including our enemies) are we in a good position or are we swimming with the sharks?
So why is Jesus so fixated on forgiveness? Because forgiveness is entirely an act of love. Forgiving someone means looking past their fault and transgressions and looking at the good in them. It means showing love towards a person no matter what their actions are. Really, love is all that the Lord is looking for. He wants us to love each other the way that He loves us, and for us to model His love we must learn to forgive. If he can forgive us of the gravest of sins that we commit against him, then why should we not be able to forgive small actions that others commit against us?
So what is the problem with all this? As I stated earlier I wrote down a simple question regarding where I am in my walk with Christ. Do I forgive others the way that I should? Sort and simply: no. Not at all. I hold on to some heavy burdens in my heart. Actions that have been committed against me that I find hard to move past, and now I see that not only does holding onto this bring a heaviness to my heart, but affects my walk with Christ. I want to be a good person and say that I have forgiven everyone during the process of writing this post but I can’t. I want to be able to truly forgive from the bottom of my heart. To not just say it, but mean it also. That will take some time. But I plan to make the change (and you should too!) and work on forgiving others the way that the Lord forgives my sins. Tonight I will start by praying that God opens my heart to true love and that I start to learn the true meaning of forgiveness.