Forgiven and Forgiving

Tim Brown

READ : Matthew 6:5-15

For if you forgive others their trespasses . . . (v. 14)

When we confess in the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe . . . in the forgiveness of sins,” we are doing more than reveling in God’s forgiving nature toward us. We are also committing ourselves to a life of forgiving. Jesus minces no words in the Sermon on the Mount when speaking of forgiveness. He tells us without condition that our capacity to forgive others and his willingness to forgive us are linked. It seems so harsh, but I know of no other way to understand him.

In her compelling autobiography, The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom, a survivor of the Nazi death camps, tells of a time after the war when she met one of her prison guards face to face. Lightning bolts of pain and anger flashed through her as he reached out his hand seeking to be forgiven.

What would she do? What could she do? The forgiven one was now being compelled by Christ himself to become the forgiver. She closed her eyes and prayed earnestly for courage to embrace the grace of Christ to do it, and she did, but it was neither natural nor easy.

Forgiving is never natural or easy. But this is what we are called to do. Jesus said so, and he meant what he said.

PRAYER

Loving Forgiver of all our sins, prompt us to forgive in Jesus’ name. Amen.