1st January 2011

A Year To Forgive

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV UK)

Don’t allow an upset with someone to turn into a long-term grudge! 

In the poem Tam O’ Shanter by Robert Burns, Tam’s wife anticipates that her husband will never change. He’s late again coming home and will probably be as drunk as a skunk.  She sits in the chair, “nursing her wrath to keep it warm”.

If we are honest with ourselves, which is a rare thing these days, we are all like that. We put people in moulds that they can never shake out of. We build up a case against others.  How often married couples bring old points into new arguments! How many of us will carry old fights into the new year?

I knew a man once who had a grudge against everyone he had met, a perpetual chip on his shoulder. He ended up being a cantankerous old pain in the neck, if you excuse the expression.

What is the problem? It is that we don’t deal with our grievances. We let people annoy us, and we don’t forgive. We forget that getting annoyed with someone else is a choice we make, and that to forgive is better than to resent.  The more we fail to forgive, the more resentment becomes part of our personality. It sours our whole life.

This is what Jesus is saying in the above scripture. If you don’t forgive, you damage yourself. A hardened, calloused heart alienates itself from the grace of God. Forgiveness is a gift from God that makes a positive impact on our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Unless we allow God’s grace to flow through us to others, we limit our own acceptance of that grace. To be forgiven by God is to share that forgiveness.

God’s “compassions never fail. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV). Each day we wake up to God’s forgiveness, but do others wake up each day to ours? Or do they wake up to our renewed wrath?

In 2011 choose to forgive.

Lord, help me to forgive others in this coming year just as you have forgiven me in Christ. In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson

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