Dr. Lawrence Butler
The Bridge Church, Pembroke
But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:26).
There is no way to separate forgiveness from the experience of salvation. We must receive forgiveness from the Lord for our unrighteousness in order to be born again and become “new creatures” (II Cor. 5:17). The law of forgiveness is strongly taught in Christianity and is a critical part of the process of turning from sin unto the Lord. As discussed in the previous lesson on this subject, it is not always easy to forgive others when we have been wronged, especially if the act was significantly distressful. Let me present another scenario this week and you can test your level of mercy and love towards others who have been particularly egregious in their actions.
On December 1,1997, at Heath High School in Paducah, KY, a group of students were finishing up their prayer time and were about to go to class. A 14-year-old freshman walked up to them and, without provocation, began shooting into their circle. Three students died and 5 others were seriously wounded. Parents and the community struggled to understand and overcome this tragedy. One survivor, a 15-year-old girl, was left a paraplegic because of spinal cord damage. She expects to spend the rest of her life in a broken condition. Yet, in spite of the horrific damage done to her physical body, she sent a message through a friend to the one who destroyed her life. She said, “Tell him, I forgive him.” This was a gracious act reflecting Christian love.
A group of experts on comparative religions was trying to ascertain the difference between Christianity and other major religions. C. S. Lewis walked into the room and was asked his opinion on the uniqueness of Christianity. He quickly answered, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”
What is grace? It is the act of giving to someone who doesn’t deserve the gift. Only Christianity makes God’s love unconditional. It comes by grace. Other religions emphasize man’s responsibility to secure God’s favor by some set of conditions which must be met. Christianity states that you can never earn God’s blessing and favor, but He has extended it to us through the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary. We are forgiven because of the shed blood of Jesus who died for our sins.
Since we are forgiven freely because of Christ’s suffering and death, we must therefore seek grace to forgive others.
As Jesus clearly stated in His teaching, if we do not find grace to forgive others, God will not forgive us. No matter how difficult it may be, God will help you to forgive those who have wronged you.