“ And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
A new calendar year gives us an opportunity for a fresh start. When I was a child, my Sunday school teacher reminded us students of this opportunity. She explained that it was like our individual blackboard slate wiped completely clean. (Today, we might say it is like deleting on our computers.) God’s forgiveness is available to us every day not just at the beginning of a new year. The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6: 9-15) reminds us of that in verse 12. “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
As a young child, I threw an icicle at my sister. It just missed her eye. I told my sister that God would forgive me. My sister complained to our mother, who used the incident as a “teachable moment.” My mother explained that I needed to sincerely confess my error, be truly sorry, and then ask for God’s forgiveness. It was an important lesson for both my sister and me.
The Scriptures proclaim another essential part of forgiveness. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)
Forgiveness of others can heal us as well as our relationships. Most importantly, it can deepen our relationship with God.
Our guilt over past mistakes sometimes prevents us from asking for God’s forgiveness. It is never too late to go to God in prayer, confess our sins and ask God to help us to take away our guilty feelings. We can choose to let go of our guilt and no longer allow anger and bitterness to poison our life. Forgiving others or ourselves takes time and effort.
Prayer: God we need your forgiveness. Help us to find ways to forgive others daily and look for the wonderful blessings in our lives. Grant us your mercy and grace. Amen.
Lois Poppe (reprinted from January 2, 2012)