…to forgive, divine.

Day 28

Prayer for the day

Deliver me, O LORD, by your hand from those whose portion in life is this world.

Scripture for the day

Exodus 19-20, Matthew 18:21-35

Forgiveness. The word itself is sometimes enough to send shivers down our spines. Forgiveness often conjures images of bruised and battered people meekly accepting their fate, doormats walked over and crushed by the heels of life and loved ones. Too often, forgiveness means supporting those who would do us great harm. It’s not a fair fight, forgiveness. It’s tough.

Jesus speaks about forgiveness to his disciples. He talks about the necessity of regularly forgiving offenses against them. Jesus’ advice to his disciples seems irresponsible. How can they know how wrong they are unless we teach them by refusing to forgive until we really believe they’re sorry? How can we have psychic health if we’re constantly enabling their sin against us? How can we possibly forgive someone who wrongs us so regularly?

These very strong words on forgiveness have echoes in the law of the Old Testament. God gives the law to his people in order to form them as a people, and in doing so, he teaches them the way to reflect His character. The law is certainly a list of dos and don’ts, but goes far beyond a simple checklist. The law is to be grace to the people of God. They are not only to obey, they are to learn what it means to be a people. And when a law like this is given, it puts in place the right kind of environment for forgiveness.

The greatest feature of the forgiveness environment is humility. Humility is the recognition that every single one of us is entirely dependent on God for everything we have, everything we do, and everything we are. The law teaches us this, because none are able to fully and perfectly obey it. When you look at your own sin and the sin of your brother and sister, you see people who are equally incapable of keeping the law, people who are equally reliant on God. And it is that reliance on God, and the forgiveness we all are able to receive from God, that allows us to truly forgive one another.

God wasn’t commanding doormat status when Jesus told the disciples to forgive. God was commanding humility. The servant was to be gracious and forgive because he too had been forgiven.

How much more the people of God?

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