For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14 NIV
Last evening we began our study in Romans 2. There was some great discussion about the themes of judgment and forgiveness. Perhaps, two of the hardest things for us to conquer. We desperately want to judge when we shouldn't and need to forgive but don't. Or, when we forgive, we are prone to hold onto a bit of resentment.
These words from Jesus follow the Lord's Prayer. Immediately after Christ instructs us to ask for forgiveness as we forgive others, It seems Jesus felt the need to give us more specifics. He goes on to say, "But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (v. 15) It seems clear then that forgiveness is critical to our salvation
Later in Matthew 21:22, Jesus responds to Peter's question about how many times we must forgive the same person, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times; this doesn't mean an actual 490 times but endlessly. With forgiveness, that is whole and complete regardless of the number of offenses. Forgiveness may be difficult. But the Holy Spirit is with us to give us the strength and words to say and comfort in letting it go.
God, we give you thanks for the forgiveness you show us. We confess we often find it difficult to let go of our anger and hurt. Sometimes we hide behind the justification of our feelings and believe forgiveness is not required. Please help us to let go of those resentments we have been harboring, and help us to forgive. Refresh our souls with your healing Spirit. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.