Bible Reading: Luke 7:36-50
A person who is forgiven little shows only little love. Luke 7:47
“I DON’T think I can ever forgive him after what he said. He doesn’t deserve it.”
“She asked me to forgive her, and I said I would. But I can’t.”
“She’s dead now. She can’t apologize-so I won’t forgive her.”
You live in a culture saturated with stored-up grudges, resentments, bitterness, and broken hearts. When people don’t take time to confront and mend those hurts when they cling to attitudes like the ones you see in those sad statements above they rip apart relationships. They break up the closeness God intends between Christians. They dull the cutting edge of the Holy Spirit in the lives of individuals. And they split families, friends, youth groups, and churches.
Forgiveness works like oil in relationships. It reduces friction and allows people to get close to each other without overheating.
If you don’t sense a forgiving heart in someone, you won’t ever be truly open and vulnerable to him or her. You know that an unforgiving person won’t give you half a chance to develop a deep, lasting, and close relationship. And if you aren’t a forgiving person-no matter how smart, talented, or downright good-looking you might be-you won’t develop the close relationships you want. When you aren’t able to forgive, even little conflicts blow your friendships to bits.
But once you learn to forgive others who wrong you, your relationships grow strong. You can talk openly and meaningfully. If someone can love you despite your faults and accept you even when you have wronged them, you can’t help but become even better friends.
Your know-how in handling this one skill-forgiveness-Iargely determines how you handle conflicts in your relationships. Ask yourself:
Do I accept each situation where forgiveness is necessary as an opportunity to strengthen relationships and develop my own character?
Do I study the needs of people who hurt me and try to understand them?
Do I know that God will deal fairly with my offender if that person needs punishment-and that it’s not my job to punish him or her?
Do I choose to thank God for each difficult experience and allow his love and grace to grow in me as a result?
When you want to learn how to forgive, Christ is your model. His forgiveness was absolute and immediate. Think about it: He even forgave the men who crucified him! So when you feel tempted to rip someone’s head off, be like Christ: Forgive.
REFLECT: How skilled are you at forgiving-and receiving forgiveness?
PRAY: Ask God to help you learn the crucial habit of forgiveness.