By Allen Teal, Chaplain
Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us. (Matthew 6:12, Common English Bible).
Everyone wants to receive forgiveness, but finds it hard to give. When all or part of an outstanding debt is forgiven, a sense of relief will follow. A friend’s willingness to overlook it when we have wronged them brings a lift to our spirit. Few things equal the feeling of being forgiven when we are experiencing the guilt, fear, and remorse from our actions or words.
“To err is human, to forgive divine.”—Alexander Pope
Why is it difficult to forgive? Unfortunately, most people find the urge to “get even” too strong to resist. Admittedly, some wrongs are harder to move past than others. Getting cheated out of a few cents does not compare to the murder of a loved one. The scale of the offense can create the idea that some things are forgivable and some are not. It is possible to forgive anything. Knowing this does not make it easy.
Forgiving is important enough that several days have been set aside for it.
The last Sunday before Lent each year is “Forgiveness Sunday.” International Forgiveness Day sponsored by the World Forgiveness Alliance falls on the first Sunday of August annually. It is August 5 in 2018. The Christian Embassy of Christ's Ambassadors sponsors Global Forgiveness Day on August 27th each year. For those who need to draw a line in the sand to force themselves to forgive others, this chance comes at least three times every year with two of them occurring in August.
In the Lord’s Prayer, a pattern to encourage forgiving is found.
The prayer asks God to forgive us in the same way that we forgive. When we think about our track record for forgiving, is this really what we want? How miserable it would be if God said that he would have to think about whether to forgive us. Additionally, I am personally glad that God forgives my sins and does not remember them again.
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. (Hebrews 8:12, NIV).
This is a high bar to reach. We need to forgive others to improve our own life. When we forgive others, bitterness and resentment cannot take root in our hearts. This brings a greater sense of peace. As we forgive, we leave the wrong in our past. It should only be remembered to make us wiser.