November Gratitude Stone 17 Forgiveness
Romans 5:6-11 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
I am stunned at the concept of forgiveness as it relates to gratitude. Perhaps because you can’t have one without the other! There are so many stories and ideas related to forgiveness. One of the most thankful women in the Bible is the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet. The others who witnessed her lavish gratitude would have said she was too thankful, but not from God’s perspective. When God forgives everything gets turned upside down. Love and forgiveness change everything. Jesus responds to Simon and the Pharisees with a parable:
Two men owed money to a certain moneylender.
One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty
Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both.
Now which of them will love him more?’
Simon replied, ‘I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.’
‘You have judged correctly,’ Jesus said.”
And then He went on to tell him, “her many sins have been forgiven…But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
Obviously the moneylender in the story is God and the two men in the story who owe the debts to God but cannot pay them back; but whose debts are cancelled just the same are me and you and the “sinful” woman in this story along with every other believer on the face of this earth!!! And the question is not, “Who has sinned more?”The question is, “Who realizes his or her sins for what they are?”
For those who have been forgiven much—love much!!! And yet, forgiveness is something we know we should do, but seldom do fully. But God says that if we don’t forgive others, he won’t forgive us. When Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” In the Jewish mindset, the number 77 represented a number that big was too big to count. Jesus says – don’t LIMIT your forgiveness. And then he tells another parable about an unforgiving servant in Matt. 18. The king is God and the servant is a person who doesn’t forgive. You would think that he would all be bouncing around the room with joy and gratitude, wouldn’t you? This servant in the story certainly should have been. But he wasn’t; instead he turns around and refuses to forgive a small thing from one of his own servants.
Jesus in telling this parable is drawing parallels to our lives. We are like this servant in debt. We owed a debt to God that we could never repay. God paid a debt he did not owe when he gave up his son’s life to pay for our sins. He volunteered to cancel our debt and it cost him a great deal to do so. We have been forgiven an immeasurable amount, just like this servant was. We have all sinned and offended God. Nothing we can do can satisfy him. Is 64:6 says that our righteous acts are like filthy rags in God’s sight. We owe such a debt and all we can offer to pay Him back is worthless.
Our gratitude should demand we forgive others. Forgiveness is a response of gratitude to God. We have had a gi-normous debt forgiven us. That should alone be enough to transform our lives. Forgiveness is a choice. We can choose to forgive or we can choose not to. It is totally up to us. Forgiveness is not about waiting till another person has recognized the seriousness of their actions. If that was the case, God would never forgive us, because we just can’t comprehend how serious our sins were.
Forgiveness is all about release. It is letting go of the right to get revenge. Forgiveness is not an easy thing to do. It defies everything that our human nature tells us to do. And that is why it is hard.
Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Thank you for your forgiveness as I forgive my debtors.