Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us
I had thought it was just a disagreement between the two women who are part of a project for refugee women that I help run, but then I realised that their husbands had been fighting for two years. The recent disrespectful text messages were just the most recent manifestation of a family feud bubbling up to the surface again.
Forgiveness doesn't come naturally to us, revenge does.
If we have never experienced forgiveness ourselves, how difficult it is to forgive others.
But if we do know that complete, undeserved forgiveness that comes from Christ Jesus, how can we withhold that blessing to others?
Two Muslim women from different countries, both struggling with their circumstances, who understood more about respect, offence and revenge than repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.
Seventy times seven
Because we have all sinned, we have been sinned against.
If someone steals from you, and takes what is yours, then they owe you a debt. You can insist on payment, or you can forgive the debt – let it go.
Forgiving others is central to the Christian way of life. Because it cost Jesus so much to win forgiveness for us, we don't have the right to revenge.
What about people who keep sinning against us?
Do we have to keep forgiving them?
Then Peter came to Him and said, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?'
Jesus said to him, ' I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'
Matthew 18 v 21 - 22 NKJV
If you are struggling to forgive someone, I recommend reading the parable that Jesus taught on this subject: Matthew 18 v 23 - 35
Forgiveness is Possible
God is willing to forgive us anything, but it is conditional on us forgiving others.
This can be hard, and it may take time. It depends on our attitude and on how much we are owed, but it is possible.
I have seen Christians forgive many people:
fathers who rejected them when they were young
brothers sent to kill them for changing religion
torturers in prison
betrayal to the authorities
all sorts of abuse
Forgiveness is possible, with the help of the one who forgave the soldiers who nailed him to a cross, the one who gave his life to set us free from the endless cycle of sin, judgement and death.
This is the only way to bring peace on earth.
If peace is our goal, there can be no future without forgiveness
Archbishop Desmond Tutu