Faith To Forgive
Jesus told the disciples that it was impossible that no offenses would come their way. He went on to tell them that if their brother offended them, and then repented and asked forgiveness, they should forgive him. After hearing this, Peter asked how many times one should offer forgiveness. He thought seven times would be rather magnanimous on his part. Jesus told him seventy seven would be better. That answer is about the tenderness of the heart more than the tally of the offenses. Following this teaching the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” Clearly they saw this matter of forgiveness to be difficult without the help of the Lord. It would take greater faith, not greater will power.
Forgiveness is really high on God’s priority list. Little wonder, since He is the supreme example of it. Could there be a more hellish scene of offense and hatred than that which surrounded Christ on the cross at Calvary? In the midst of such mistreatment Jesus could have said many things, but His words still echo through the eons of time. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them…” (Luke 23:34).
Throughout the New Testament, from the gospels to the letters to the churches, forgiveness is taught as a virtue befitting believers. The basis for extending forgiveness to others is found in the boundless measure of it given to us. In writing about the character of the new person we are in Christ, the apostle Paul offers the following: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another, even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Colossians 3:12-13) It is sure that no one has offended us to the extent of our offense to God. May He grant us the faith and grace to extend a measure of His forgiveness to others.