Death defeated. Sins forgiven. New life. This is the message bursting forth from Easter.
Forgiveness is freely given to us—but we forgive unwillingly. Wrongdoing may be forgotten, but we continue to bear grudges. “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west,” says Psalm 103:12 (NLT). Or “as far as sunrise is from sunset,” says The Message translation. Can we ever reach the west? (Forget for a moment the labels we put on continents.) Can we ever get to the sunset?
Still we remember—our own wrongdoing, and the sins of others. It’s only natural. We blame ourselves. We condemn others. We don’t easily forgive. Past mistakes eat away at us. Injustices inflicted by others cause wounds, and we burn furiously inside. “I’ve forgiven her,” we may eventually be able to say—but then something happens, the wounds are reopened, and suddenly anger and indignation are reignited.
The Bible instructs that we must forgive because God has forgiven us. We should take these words seriously, because we must also forgive to be forgiven.
Just as Jesus daily bears our burdens, our forgiveness must be an every-day event. He intercedes for us continually. How better to practice forgiveness than to imitate that which God does eternally?
Forgiveness is a way of life—to be practiced and embraced. Jesus didn’t say that forgiving would be easy. Sometimes seventy times seven can relate to only one injustice! If you find forgiveness difficult, don’t despair. Keep dousing the fire of anger for days, months, or even years, until it is fully extinguished. When it comes to self-forgiveness, be kind to yourself, too.
YOLO! You Only Live Once—so live daily with forgiveness.