Learning to Forgive

Matthew 5: 43-48 - "You have heard that it was said,'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (NRSV)

Luke 23:34 - Jesus said,"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (NRSV)

Eileen Thrift, from Florida, recalls that when she was seven and her brother was three, she witnessed a group of adults bullying her mother because she was of Japanese heritage. Even though she was too young to understand why this was happening, she was angry and felt hatred. She knew that iif her dad had been home, instead of serving in the military overseas, these people would not have dared to do what they did. She saw her mother cry many times while her father was away. It was difficult for her to understand why they, as a family, all had to suffer.

It took some time for Eileen to understand that as Christians we are called to forgive those who hurt us or our loved ones. i think this is one of the hardest things that God asks us to do: "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," (Matt. 5:44) as Jesus did on the cross. Though I have never forgotten, I have forgiven those people for the evil they did. For me, it is like a painful wound that has healed, but the scar remains as a constant reminder of what happened. The words of Jesus and his example have taught me a great deal about forgiveness.

This life is hard. We are all going thru a learning process; some quicker than others. Along life's journey, we may get hurt; sometimes physically, sometimes mentally, sometimes spiritually; sometimes all three. Sometimes it is deliberate, but most of the time it is accidental. People say and do things without thinking thru the consequences. Sometimes we are in situations that make it difficult for ourselves which reflects on those around us. But in all circumstances it is beneficial to ourselves if we learn how to forgive. First, we are following God's word, and second, forgiveness is really about ourselves, not the one who hurt us. Healing occurs thru forgiveness.

Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for forgiving our sins as we forgive those who sin against us, in Jesus' name, amen.

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