Bible Reading: Matthew 6:9-15
If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. Matthew 6:14
Quiz time. Here’s a list of people who have wronged you. Vote for the folks you are willing to forgive:
(a) The older brother who practices his batting swing in the middle of the backyard—and hits a grand slam into your forehead
(b) The friend who breaks the ceramic mug that won you first prize in your school’s art fair
(c) The little sister who annoys you with her unending knock-knock jokes
(d) The kid at school who teased you on the playground two years, five months, and three days ago
Here’s some big news: Forgiveness isn’t just for people you feel like forgiving. God says to forgive everyone who hurts you. Say that again?
Yes, God calls you to forgive anyone who has angered, hurt, or offended you.
Knowing God’s command to forgive, of course, doesn’t make forgiveness any easier, especially when you feel like you’ve been walloped with a baseball bat.
As tough as forgiving can be, God doesn’t intend it to take forever. In fact, he wants us to give or receive forgiveness immediately. In Ephesians 4:26 Paul wrote, “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” And Jesus said that when we realize someone has a grudge against us, we should go solve the problem right away—even if that realization dawns on us in the middle of worshiping him (see Matthew 5:23-25).
One caution: We can run to God for forgiveness as soon as we realize we’ve done wrong. We can decide in our heart to forgive the minute after someone wounds us. But when it comes to dealing with real people over really hot issues it’s sometimes wise to let a situation simmer down for a few days before you go forgive or ask forgiveness. You’ll both be more ready to reason.
Forgiveness cuts both ways. You might be able to think of a pile of people who have wronged you. But you wrong others too. Tape this phrase someplace you’ll see it daily: “When I refuse to forgive, I am burning a bridge that someday I will need to cross.” Be happy to forgive, because more often than you can imagine you are going to need forgiveness from someone else!
TALK: Why is it good to forgive right away? What makes it hard?
PRAY: Talk to God about people you need to forgive—or people you need to ask for forgiveness.
ACT: Is there someone you need to forgive today? Do you need to ask someone to forgive you? Take care of it before sundown.