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.

With Jesus, forgiveness was instantaneous and perpetual. The Jews who heard his gently dismissal of the repentant Magdalen said within themselves, "Who is this that forgiveth sins also?" What is it the the Christ in consciousness that heals disease and also forgives sins? Those who marveled at Jesus' manifestation of the Christ did not understand that he could heal all manner of disease just because he could forgive all manner of sins. He had no belief in injustice, sensuality, treachery, slander, or ingratitude as being real, so that when these errors came against his pure understanding he forgave them instantly; and his forgiveness took away their pretended power. When Peter drew his sword and hurt the servant of the high priest, even in the moment of his betrayal Jesus' tender forgiveness welled up, and he stopped to heal the man's ear before he went to meet the cross. On that cross Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do;" and the tense used in the Greek would seem to imply that he kept on saying these loving compassionate words.

Enjoy 1 free Sentinel article or audio program each month, including content from 1898 to today.

The Ladder of Life
August 27, 1927

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.