When I think back on my life I can remember being a pretty awful kid. Just ask my siblings...
Especially in my teen years, I can remember always being at odds with my parents for one reason or another. It usually wasn’t even important, just me being a prideful, stubborn young man trying to get my way. These times, more often than not, would culminate with me stubbornly and unemotionally apologizing for my actions or words and accepting the rightful consequences for them. Now, if you ask my parents, they’ll probably tell you I was not that bad, but don’t believe them. They’re too gracious. Believe me when I tell you, there were many times I said “sorry Mom.”
Now that I’m married and in a new stage of life, I look back at those times and realize I was always missing something very important. I always said sorry, but rarely did I ever seek forgiveness. I realize now that this is simply missing the whole point of actually being sorry for something. Saying you’re sorry is easy, seeking forgiveness is extremely difficult. One is simply saying something somewhat shallow and the other is a confession. It’s a confession that you are in need of something from someone else. Being sorry is something anyone can do. Seeking another’s forgiveness takes humility and the guts to admit you are in need of someone’s benevolence.
Saying sorry is easy. Asking for forgiveness is hard. Yet so many simply stop at “I’m sorry” and never truly get to the root issue. What they don’t understand is when they do this, they miss out on the Gospel. They miss out on the opportunity to experience, on a smaller scale, the forgiveness and love we have through Christ. When we extend forgiveness to another, we are showing the love of our Father through that action. We display a knowledge and love for the Gospel of Christ. We understand that we have been forgiven so much, there is no other recourse but to forgive with a joyful and loving heart. Forgiveness is never done out of anger or obligation. It is a joyful thing we do because we want to show the offender the love of Christ. This is the purpose of forgiveness.
When we do not seek forgiveness we are short-changing ourselves. We are missing out on the best part of reconciliation. Although we should never do something simply for the feeling of it, there is a wonderful feeling that comes from being forgiven. It’s freeing. There’s a load that falls off when we confess sin and are forgiven by the ones we offend. It feels good. It feels right. It is a small taste of the wonder we should feel everyday because of the greater forgiveness we have been shown through Christ. We Christians should be beaming from ear to ear everyday because of that knowledge.
Christians should be a people of forgiveness. We of all people have the ability to truly forgive. I do not believe those who have not been shown the forgiveness from God truly have the capacity within themselves to forgive. In other words, I don’t believe someone can give something they themselves have not received. Being forgiven by God gives us the ability to forgive. This is because forgiveness is a picture of the Gospel. Unbelievers can be sorry, but cannot truly give forgiveness because they do not have that source to draw from. Christians do. This is why it is paramount that we are a people of forgiveness. The world needs to see it. When we don’t forgive, we make a lie out of the Gospel. We lie with our lifestyle about the forgiveness that we have been shown. We must not lie, we must forgive and live the truth.
Giving and receiving forgiveness should be joyous and wonderful. We get to show Jesus to each other in a way that is so close to what we have been shown. This is amazing. This is what being a Christian is all about. Never are we living the Gospel more then when we say to a brother or sister, "I forgive you." We receive and give forgiveness because we love each other and we love God. We do this for each other because God has done it for us. He is the source. He is the reason we forgive. He is the reason forgiveness is so wonderful.
(Dedicated to D.)