READ : Luke 7:36-50
And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (v. 48)
While my daughter was working in Germany as a ministry intern, one of the church officials invited her to attend an important event. She wrote the wrong date in her
calendar and missed it. Her German friends were aghast that a lowly intern would stand up the Oberkirchenrat! She groveled apologetically before him, and he cheerfully responded, “I don’t have any trouble forgiving you, but I wonder if you can forgive yourself?”
This wise man understood that forgiveness has multiple layers. Jesus suggests as much in his interactions with Simon the Pharisee in Luke 7. After he tells Simon a parable about the depth of forgiveness, he offers forgiveness to a woman who was very much in need of it. Jesus is telling Simon that the self-righteous have a hard time forgiving others. The German church official told my daughter the self-critical have a hard time forgiving themselves. The starting point, according to Paul in Colossians 3, is to accept our own forgiveness. We are forgiven. It is only when forgiveness is real to us that we can start to forgive others.
Next time you are struggling to let go of something or someone that has hurt you, remind yourself of your own forgiveness. When we don’t forgive, eventually we only hurt ourselves. As my daughter learned, being forgiven and a forgiver is a better, healthier way to live. I wonder if Simon learned that as well.
Lord, may we understand the depth of our forgiveness.