"And forgive us our debts,
 as also we forgive our debtors,
(Matthew 6:12)

Forgiveness is the fruit of God’s love, poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. If we do not freely forgive others, we hinder the love of our Lord Jesus and resist the work of His Spirit, leaving little room for His peace and joy to dwell within us. Forgiveness manifests and flows freely when we allow patience, kindness, goodness and gentleness to come together, abide within us, and then flow forth from us abundantly

If we are faithful to God’s commandment to be perfect as He is perfect, we will not only bless those who love us, but we will bless those who wrong us. We are called to forgive others as our Heavenly Father has forgiven us! That is indeed a high and noble calling, impossible for the natural man, but possible for those that are cleansed by the blood of Jesus, born again, and made fit for the kingdom of God by the working of the Holy Spirit. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, that we are able to forgive those who the world would judge as unworthy of love and impossible to forgive. This undeserved forgiveness is the character and way of the Lord Jesus!

It is an unregenerated human nature that evaluates the offense and then reasons that a refusal to forgive is justified. We may fconclude that the offense against us was intentional, or it was premeditated, or it is repetitive. We may evaluate the wounds and conclude that the scars of a grevious offense justify a refusal to forgive. We may observe continuing offensive behavior and conclude that there is no remorse and the offender does not deserve forgiveness. How soon we forget who we were!

The last facet of the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 is self control. Our flesh has been out of control since sin entered the world. Praise be to our Lord Jesus that while we were yet rebellious sinners, Christ shed His blood and laid down His life, desiring that sinners would trust in Him and be delivered from the bondage of sin. If we are indeed new creatures in Christ, then we must exercise self control, yield to the Holy Spirit and permit Him to reign over our heart and mind. We may not always yield instantly, though we ought, but God, who knows the intentions of our heart, will help us reach perfect forgiveness regardless of the nature of the offense, without making excuse.

Forgiving others as God forgave may sometimes appear exceedingly difficult. Yet, if we humble ourselves, confess our weakness and inability, and declare our dependence on Him to forgive others, He is faithful to grant us the grace to perfectly forgive.

Unforgiveness makes us miserable, distorts the character of Christ that others see within us, and grieves the Holy Spirit. Our unforgiveness towards others will cause us to stand guilty of our own sin before God. We live in a broken world. People hurt each other all the time, sometimes intentionally. We can walk around harboring unforgiveness, or we can choose to say the words Jesus and later Stephen said to those that were putting them to death: ”Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. We often expect the offenders to acknowledge their wrong doing and ask us to forgive them their wrong - in contrast, the Lord Jesus forgave those who neither acknowledged wrong nor asked to be forgiven. They simply did not understand that what they had done was the greatest sin imaginable; they had cruelly crucified the King of Glory.

Our repentance comes after we understand our state of sin. When we act as Jesus and simply forgive, we just might find that those we have forgiven will come to see their offenses clearly, but only after we chose to forgive, put aside all grudges against them and love them unconditionally.

May God help us to practice forgiveness today!