S54P4 – Linchpins of the faith: forgiveness

Col. 3:12-15

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

The boss was a gentle giant.  At first glance, one expected him to be hard and gruff.  Looking at the team this manager led, it seemed impossible to do that job any other way.  After the new assistant came on board, she found the case to be much different.  When she made her first mistake, the manager called her into the office.  What she thought would be a shouting session ended up being a calm and soft teaching. Her boss was gently correcting her instead of making her feel like she failed.  One day, the manager spotted the assistant addressing an error of one of her underlings. The assistant’s approach was to berate and chastise the employee. She thought the only way to prove her position was to browbeat others into submission.  Seeing this, the manager vowed never to promote the assistant above her current level.

We are measured in the manner by which we measure others.  Jesus mentions this in the Lord’s Prayer when He tells us to ask God to forgive us as we forgive others.  What we desire from God is an unlimited storehouse of mercy.  If that is what we want from him, then that is what we must make available to those who sin against us.  God’s forgiveness is reserved for those who themselves are forgiving.  There are no two ways about it.  We cannot expect God to absolve us of our trespasses no matter how great or small if we hold others’ trespasses against them.  Like the manager who was setting an example for his assistant, God set the example for us when it comes to forgiveness.  If He was willing to forgive us even when we were enemies of his, then we should be willing to forgive just as freely.

God is looking for his children to become increasingly more like him. When it comes to opportunities for us to serve and advance in the kingdom, God will promote the godly.  The goal is for us to be transformed into people who behave as He would behave.  That means we love as He loves, and we forgive as He forgives.  If we do not do that, then we will remain where we are spiritually.  We will not advance. If we withhold forgiveness from others, then our heavenly Father will withhold forgiveness from us.  Let us consider where that would leave us before we decide to hold a grudge against someone who really deserves our mercy.  Father, fill us with your mercy that we would forgive as freely as You forgive, knowing that this will bring us freedom as well.