The Immensity of Forgiveness
Nothing will corrupt our hearts and our thinking faster than an unforgiving heart. But the reverse is also true: nothing grants freedom, joy, and peace of heart and mind more quickly than the genuine experience of offering forgiveness. Indeed, our readiness to forgive is a litmus test of our spiritual status; when we forgive from the heart, we provide evidence that we actually are sons and daughters of the Most High (Luke 6:35).
Jesus often places our being forgiven and our willingness to forgive next to each other (see Luke 11:4). So when we think about practicing forgiveness, we first have to ask where we can find it. The answer is that the source of all true forgiveness is found in God alone. Indeed, out of the abundance of God’s mercy comes forgiveness.
That forgiveness is as indispensable to the life and health of our souls as food is to our physical bodies. Scripture is filled with reminders that point to God as one who forgives. The psalmist says, “If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness” (Psalm 130:3-4). Similarly, the prophet Daniel says, “To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness” (Daniel 9:9). The divine Son of God, as He was spat upon and mocked, stripped of His clothes, beaten, nailed to a cross between two criminals, and abandoned in agony declared, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). God’s spirit of forgiveness knows no rival.
As God’s children by faith in Christ, we are to imitate our Father and our Lord by practicing forgiveness. It is so integral to the life of the true Christian that Jesus goes as far as to say that if we are not willing to forgive, then we should ask ourselves very seriously whether we are truly forgiven: that is, whether we have really grasped the gospel in our hearts (see Matthew 6:14-15). If you are harboring unforgiveness in your heart, do not excuse or belittle it. Instead, bring the gospel to it. Reflect on the immensity of what you have been forgiven through Christ. Reflect on the forgiving nature of your Father, whom you are called to reflect in your life. Recognize the corrupting, life-draining burden of unforgiveness. Specify what you need to do, and for whom. That is the path to enjoying the peace and freedom of forgiving just as you have been forgiven.
A Sinful Woman Forgiven
36One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
41“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49Then those who were at table with him began to say among8 themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
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