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Forgiveness

Susan O’Donnell 91.3 KGLY Early Afternoons

What is the verse most of us want to forget? 

Could it be the one in Matthew 6:14-16?

 “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.”

I went through a very dark time, became single woman with two little girls to raise and no financial help.  The girls seldom saw their father. He’d gone on with his life without provision or time for the children.

 This scripture was one I knew I had to be the first to deal with.  Note, it doesn’t say if other people ask for forgiveness; it doesn’t even say if people who need forgiveness change their “sin against you.”  It isn’t even talking about them. It’s talking about me and you.

Once I was able to forgive as God forgives even though nothing in the situation ever changed.  I then had to teach my daughters, even as life continued to impact them in that relationship. It took a lot of talks, teaching, prayer and lots of time, but my daughters have learned to forgive someone who hurt them, and even continue to do so.

 If we’re honest, it’s likely we’ve unknowingly been that person for someone in our life, not realizing the need to ask forgiveness.

I know that we all have hurts, and people in our life who have caused pain, inflicted damage and maybe still are. However,  if we are withholding our forgiveness until they apologize, God steps in and changes them, relieves the hurt or takes a drastic measure. We are dealing with the last sentence in this declaration…”if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive yours.”

Love and forgiveness have a very important thing in common: choice.  We don’t just “fall in love” and we certainly don’t “fall in forgiveness.” Despite the way romantic movies and books portray it, we CHOOSE to love someone. In the same way we CHOOSE to forgive someone or CHOOSE NOT to forgive.

I’m not suggesting, and I don’t believe the verse here suggests, that the act of forgiveness is quick, easy or some sort of sudden amnesia.

It takes work, prayer and God’s grace. But as a follower of Christ, it is purposeful, necessary and defining. 

“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

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