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Giving freely from the heart
- Jacob Ninan
If we are children of God, one of the biggest reasons for thanking God is for His love for us, and giving His Son to shed His blood and die for us in order to offer forgiveness of sins freely to us. We didn't deserve it at all, and we would never have had any way of asking for it until He offered it to us out of His own goodness towards us. Even if any of us had committed just one sin in our life, we would still have deserved to be put to death for it and sent to hell because that is what sin attracts as punishment (Ro.6:23). The holiness, righteousness and justice of God could not have had it any other way. The fact is that even though all of us deserved to be punished in hell for all that we have done in our lives, God has blotted out our sinful record with the blood of Jesus and made it white like snow (Is.1:18). It is mind boggling when we sit and think about how God has been gracious towards us.
Then we come up face to face with the question of what we should do with the sins others have done to us. For some of us this is a big issue because we have suffered horribly at the hands of some people, and some of us are still struggling with the consequences of things ohers have done to us. It is not easy to just forget about it.
Jesus warns us about how the Father will not forgive us our sins if we will not forgive others who have sinned against us (Mt.6:15;18:34,35). This is a great help for us to understand the serious consequences of not forgiving others. But isn't it possible that if we forgive others because of this then it will be based on fear and not because we really want to forgive them?
Jesus wants us to forgive others from our heart (Mt.18:35). In other words forgiveness should flow from our heart rather than be forced out of us because of fear. The best form of forgiveness towards others is not what we do in obedience to some commandment but what comes from our heart. We cannot make that come from our heart by fearing the consequences of not forgiving others. The only way it can work is by understanding how freely and undeservedly we ourselves have been forgiven.
The problem with the servant in the parable who was forgiven much by the king was that he did not value the enormity of what the king had done for him (Mt.18:27,28). He received forgiveness as a matter of fact and as he was going away from the king found it difficult to forgive another servant who owed him a measly amount compared with how much he himself had been forgiven.
If we find it difficult to forgive anyone, ask ourselves how much God has forgiven us, and ask the Holy Spirit to show what it cost God to obtain forgiveness for us. If we have forgotten it, realise that what we have forgotten is one of the most precious gifts our Heavenly Father has given to us, without which none of the other gifts would have been available to us. When our heart is filled with gratitude to God, it will overflow with forgiveness for others.