The Christian demand for forgiveness

Forgiving isn't always easy. But it is always possible— through a better understanding of God as infinite Love.

Have you ever wanted to forgive but felt you just couldn't? Carrying around a burden of anger and resentment is a hard way for anyone to live, but for a Christian it's really tough. That's because Christians know that the Master, Christ Jesus, placed great importance on forgiveness. The eighteenth chapter of Matthew's Gospel reports a conversation he had with Peter, who asked, "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?" Jesus' reply shows the unconditional nature of the forgiveness he advocated: "I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." Matt. 18:21,22.

The discovery of a need to forgive—something everyone feels at times—begins in one's own heart when one is willing to let go of resentment toward another. But this demands a self-sacrifice that can come only as an individual draws on the power of God, who is Love.

Jesus' response to Peter's question doesn't make it easy for a conscientious Christian who feels unable to forgive, because the Master's counsel points unmistakably to the fact that forgiveness is more than an exhortation; it is a natural part of Christian discipleship. Nevertheless, when an offense cuts deep, or is abhorrent to one's sense of justice and decency, forgiveness can seem nearly impossible. It is at such times that the Christian may feel brought to his knees. Reaching out to God in prayer to be shown how to forgive, to have the strength to do it, he catches the very spirit of Christliness. And through divine grace his prayer is answered.

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

May 16, 1988

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.