The Latter Rain: Celebrate Lent – Day 5
14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15
Often, we overlook the greatest power of the human spirit. We think our greatest power has something to do with our intellect, our creative genius, and our ability to figure things out. Yet all those things pale in comparison to the greatest power ever granted to humanity – the power to forgive.
The greatest power of the human being is to forgive. With one act of forgiveness, we can wipe away the greatest of afflictions that plagues us. When we hold on to bitterness and grudges against others, we allow them to fester like a cancer in our spirit. Such feelings steal our peace and keep us bound as slaves to our emotions.
“The greatest power of the human being is to forgive.”
Jesus came into our world to bring us the forgiveness of our Heavenly Father. He demonstrated the importance of forgiveness when He offered up the greatest act of forgiving the world has ever seen…from His cross, He forgave those who rejected and crucified Him.
In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, we hear Jesus teaching His followers the importance of forgiveness. He links our own forgiveness from God with our willingness to forgive others. This is a most difficult thing to understand. We don’t want to think that God will not forgive us because we don’t forgive others. Instead, we think thoughts like, “After all, we aren’t perfect like Jesus. Right?”
Wrong. It is not about being perfect, it is about being surrendered to the power of His love working in and through us. Alone, we do not have the power to forgive but through His divine Spirit at work within us we can. The truth is that if we do not learn to forgive others, we are placing our souls in jeopardy. You might be thinking, “But, I can’t forgive what they have done to me!” You’re right. On your own you cannot. But we can do ‘all things’ through Christ who gives us strength (Phil. 4:13).
Today is Forgiveness Sunday for our Eastern Christian brothers and sisters. On the final day before they enter the celebration of Great Lent they turn to one another at the end of their worship service to offer forgiveness to each other; it is a powerful image of the love of God being poured out.
If God’s grace is always being poured out, and I believe it is, then His love is always available to us. It is only in and through His love that we can forgive those who have hurt us. Alone, we cannot even love, let alone forgive. But we are never alone. His power is at work within us, teaching us and leading us.
Today, on Forgiveness Sunday, the latter rain is falling. Showers of blessing are being outpoured. We need only step out into the rain. Now, let us turn to one another and offer our forgiveness to all who have hurt us. Let us confess that we too have hurt others and need to be forgiven, not only by God but by those whom we have hurt. And let us live in the power of His love.