“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15
The words spoken by Jesus in the verses above may sound difficult to put into practice, especially to those who have been wronged by someone who shows no remorse for the damage they’ve done or the pain they’ve caused. Jesus gave us this command because he knows our natural inclination is to hate those who hurt us and to want revenge on those who wrong us without cause, especially when they do it intentionally. It’s only natural to want those who offend us to get what they deserve, but Jesus calls us to a higher standard.
Jesus doesn’t ask us to merely ignore or overlook sin and wrongdoing. He is a God of justice and he wants us to have the same desire for justice that he has. But he is also a God of mercy and he wants us to love mercy as he loves mercy.
The higher standard Jesus calls us to in these verses is to see people as he sees them—including those who have directly hurt or offended us. He sees them as people he loves so much he was willing to die to provide redemption for them, and he wants us to see them the same way. We know that we have the spirit of forgiveness Jesus is referring to in these verses when a genuine desire for the salvation of those who have wronged us replaces feelings of resentment and a desire for revenge.
When we see people as God sees them, we will pray for their salvation and well-being, rather than for their condemnation or downfall, and in so doing, we will fulfill the command of our LORD.
Is there someone in your life you need to offer forgiveness to today?
Having begun as a guest speaker in 2005, Dan was appointed Interim Pastor in 2008 and has been serving Maple Root Baptist ever since. As a small group leader and Chaplin for the Connecticut Tigers, Dan has a heart for the lost and the God that saves them.