Colossians 3:13b – Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (NIV)
The seventh-grade boy locked eyes with the girl sitting opposite him in my middle school counselling office. Though he was her friend, he had told her a blatant lie the day before. She had learned the truth just as the last bell sounded, and this was their first conversation since then.
During our session, the boy admitted his guilt, brokenly apologized for lying, and asked for forgiveness. His friend quickly assured him that he was already forgiven. I was surprised when he questioned her sincerity.
"How do I know you've really forgiven me?" he asked.
The young lady replied to his doubt without hesitation.
"I had a dream," she said. "That's how you can know I forgive you."
"Listen to me," she continued. "I was really upset that you lied to me, and I wasn't sure I wanted to be your friend any more. But I prayed before I went to sleep and asked God what I should do. I dreamed that I was standing before the throne of God, and the Lord said, 'Give him another chance.' So that's what I'm doing. I don't want to be standing before the throne of God trying to explain why I didn't do what He said. He's given me other chances, so I'm giving you one. I really forgive you."
A friendship was saved because two preteen kids took God at His Word. The young man named his fault without trying to excuse it or explain it away, and asked forgiveness from the one that he had offended. The young woman expressed her feelings, but prayed for divine direction instead of following her human emotions. God gave it. Then she obeyed Him and forgave her friend as the Lord had forgiven her.
What would happen if we likewise followed Christ's instructions for resolving interpersonal tensions?
Matthew 5:23-24 – [Jesus said,] "If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift." (NIV 2011)
It sounds like God expects me to take the first step toward reconciliation. I may need to be the one who humbly says, "I'm sorry that I hurt you by [fill in the blank]. I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?"
Jesus also leaves no room for debate about how we should respond to those who sin against us.
Matthew 18:21-22 – Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." (NIV 2011)
Christ set the standard at unlimited forgiveness. That's what He offers us. Let's choose, therefore, as an act of worship, gratitude, and obedience, to forgive others as the Lord has forgiven us. I wonder how many relationships will be given another chance because we do.
Prayer: Father of mercy, we are grateful that You do not deal with us as our sins deserve. May we be quick to seek reconciliation, and faithful to forgive those who hurt us or those we love. For Your glory, and in the Saviour's name, we pray. Amen.
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