The Joy of Forgiving

"Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?" asked Peter of Jesus; and the answer of the Master implied that forgiveness must not merely be occasional, it must be perpetual in its renewals and benedictions. However often the brother or sister seems to sin, however far another may seem to stray, however sorely our patience may be tried, there is one thing error can never take away from us, and that is the joy of forgiving. We need not wait till we are asked for forgiveness; we can give it freely, spontaneously, without request. The opportunity to express it may even be long delayed; but forgiveness never grows stale; it sweetens and ripens in the heart in which it dwells habitually.

We never have to forgive anything that is real or true, only that which is false, only which Love never knew. Jesus told his disciples that unless they forgave from the heart when they prayed, they could not receive forgiveness from their Father "which is in heaven." Those who do not forgive close their hearts to Love, and bar the door, and so cannot take in the love of God, which would destroy their sin and heal their suffering. That we must give before we can receive is one of the first laws in the kingdom of heaven, and it applies to forgiveness as much as to anything else. We must utterly forgive, if we are to receive the answer to our prayers.

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The Ladder of Life
August 27, 1927
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