In a world full of evil, and it is getting worse by the day, how are we to respond? Evil comes in many forms. It could be as simple as a person in your life lying, cheating, or saying mean things about you. It can be as horrific as a person doing physical harm to another. The human response is to want immediate judgement; immediate revenge. As Christians, we are called to be better. We are called to forgive.
Forgiving can be very difficult, depending on the situation and the wrong done. In fact, it is one of the most difficult things we must do as Christians, at least for most of us. We are to be the example of Christ, and Christ forgave, always. Even when he was hanging on the cross he knew he needed to forgive those who turned on him and crucified him.
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.[Luk 23:34 NKJV]
Typical human response is to respond in kind or lash out. Having a forgiving heart takes God. We can’t do it without Him. We also know that if we don’t forgive those who trespass against us then our Father will not forgive us. Both Matthew and Mark emphasized this in their writings.[Mat 6:15 NKJV] [Mat 6:14 NKJV] [Mat 18:35 NKJV][Mar 11:25 NKJV] [Mar 11:26 NKJV]
In Psalm 15 David sings about who can enter in and abide with the Lord.
LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? …He [who] does not backbite with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;[Psa 15:1 NKJV] [Psa 15:3 NKJV]
God wants us to be loving and forgiving. Just as He loves us and is willing and just to forgive so must we do the same.
For You, Lord, [are] good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.[Psa 86:5 NKJV]
He knows it isn’t easy for us, but we are called to do it. No matter how many times we may be faced with evil we are to always forgive.
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.[Mat 18:22 NKJV]
We aren’t even supposed to come to the foot of the cross in communion as remembrance unless we have forgiven. Jesus gave his life on the cross for us so we could be forgiven. Coming to the cross in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice, but having not forgiven those who trespass against us, defeats, and insults, the purpose of His act on the cross.
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.[1Co 11:28-29 NKJV]
I know, for me, forgiveness is often a daily struggle. I see the injustices and evil and it makes me angry. However, I am called to pray and to forgive. Many times I find myself going to God’s word or playing worship music to get my mind in prayer and off of the evil. Then, and only then, can I begin to forgive.
As we lift our hands to you to submit to you and your goodness we know you are near. Our hearts struggle but you can soften and quiet them. Our Father is just and merciful. It is so difficult to emulate that when we see the suffering in our world. Lord, open our hearts to love rather than hate. Open our hearts to be merciful and just like you. Forgive us when we hold onto the hurt rather than bringing it to you. Help us release our anger, frustration, and desire for revenge or judgement up to you. Cleanse our hearts of those thoughts and desires and replace it with peace and the ability to forgive seventy times seven. You are the just judge. We thank you, Lord, that your ways are not our ways and that you want that none should perish but have the opportunity to find you.
In Jesus Name, Amen.