Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The weak cannot forgive.” I wonder what he meant by that. The world tells us that to forgive is to be weak but here we hear that to forgive requires strength.
For anyone who has had to forgive, especially for those times they’ve been deeply hurt, they can tell you exactly what Gandhi meant. Holding on to our hurt is easy, to let that hurt go through the act of forgiving takes all the strength one can muster. Yet it’s what God expects from us. In Ephesians 4:32 He tells us through Paul, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Even Paul struggled with this at times. At different times he was angry with Peter or Barnabas or, I’m sure, many others. He didn’t even want to travel with them anymore. Yet we find that in the end he found a better way and forgave. He had to, to be able to accomplish all God had in store for him.
Jesus told us in Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” From this verse we learn a couple of things.
First, we should make every prayer an opportunity to forgive. Along with asking for forgiveness from God, we should pray in every prayer for the strength to forgive others. Along with every thank you should be included a prayer of thanks for the ability to put unforgiveness behind us.
Secondly, we learn that God’s act of forgiving us is tied to our ability to forgive others. What good is it if you are forgiven yet you refuse to forgive. It’s a conversation stopper. By holding a grudge towards even the least of your brothers, you hold a grudge against God Himself, who loves that person even as much as He loves you.
The other day I had my pickup broken into and my stereo stolen. My first reaction was shock, but, thank God, my next reaction wasn’t anger. There was a time in my life where I would have lashed out with unkind words and my own style of pity party, but I have since learned through Christ not to react that way.
I have come to understand that when others do such things, it often comes from a desperation born out of their own hurt. The window and the radio are replaceable, but that person’s soul is not. I don’t know their story. I have no idea why anyone would do such a thing, but I do know these kinds of acts don’t usually happen when people are happy and content.
Peter came to Christ and asked Him, “Lord how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive Him? As many as seven times?” Jesus’ response is one the world is not used to, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” He’s not saying at time #491 you do not forgive. His meaning is that we should forgive over and over and over again.
On my desk are several pencils of different shapes and sizes. One thing they all have in common is that each one of them as very little eraser left. That’s because I make lots of mistakes and each time I make a mistake I erase it until I get it right.
That is like the world, we all make mistakes that we would just as soon erase. To forgive is to do that for another. Not only does it serve to put you more at ease, it allows another to try again. Maybe you’ll have to forgive again, and again, but eventually the situation will find its true meaning. From Luke 6:37, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for forgiving us and give us the strength to do the same for others. Don’t let the devil have his way with us through vengeance and anger. Teach us to give all of our struggles to you, especially our struggles forgiving others. Amen.