“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”
Notice in the last part of that verse we are told that if we forgive, we will be forgiven. True forgiveness comes from only one Source—the Lord. As human beings, we sometimes like to think that the other person deserves what they get because of what they have done. Somehow we find it so hard to find forgiveness from the heart. When mistreated or, in our opinion, been dealt with unfairly, it is so easy to justify our desire to retaliate. We need so much help with that.
Forgiveness is a gift from God and is given to us from above. It not only comes from God but is required by Him and is an essential characteristic to have if we are ever to enter into His kingdom. Jesus has told us in the Lord’s prayer that He would forgive those who have forgiven others or as we forgive others. In our personal lives we need to learn how to forgive from the heart.
One of the best ways to learn how to do this is to contemplate on the life of Christ. We are told, “It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit. If we would be saved at last, we must learn the lesson of penitence and humiliation at the foot of the cross.” The Desire of Ages, 83. Take each point one by one and meditate on each scene.
As we think about the value of things in this life we see that sin is the most expensive thing that is in this world. You may think it is expensive to buy a fancy car. You may think it is expensive to buy a luxurious house. But the most expensive thing in the world is sin, because sin cost the blood of our Saviour, God’s only dear son. It is only by His blood that we are cleansed from sin, and by accepting the gift we were offered at Calvary that we are able to forgive others.
The forgiving spirit is a gift to each of us from God. We cannot buy it. We cannot earn it, but we must accept it. It is well for us to remember that God forgives. In fact, in Micah 7:19 it says, “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
He takes our sins and casts them into the depths of the sea where they cannot possibly be retrieved. He not only forgives us, but He casts away our sins so that they are not part of us anymore. David said that he takes our sins and puts them away as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). This is the extent that we are to forgive others and to the same measure that we forgive, we will be forgiven.
One of the Bible writers that many of us, if not all of us, have gained a real Christian experience from is Paul. He witnessed the forgiveness of sin, which contributed to his conversion and subsequent life. The letters he wrote to encourage the early church, which make up a large part of the New Testament, have been a wonderful blessing and encouragement to Christians throughout the ages.
“The Saviour had spoken to Saul through Stephen, whose clear reasoning could not be controverted. The learned Jew had seen the face of the martyr reflecting the light of Christ’s glory—appearing as if ‘it had been the face of an angel’ (Acts 6:15). He had witnessed Stephen’s forbearance toward his enemies and his forgiveness of them. He had also witnessed the fortitude and cheerful resignation of many whom he had caused to be tormented and afflicted. He had seen some yield up even their lives with rejoicing for the sake of their faith.
“All these things had appealed loudly to Saul and at times had thrust upon his mind an almost overwhelming conviction that Jesus was the promised Messiah.” The Acts of the Apostles, 116.
Paul said he witnessed Jesus Christ through Stephen in his forbearance towards His enemies and his forgiveness. Paul thought upon that forgiveness and the appearance of Stephen as he gave up his life—his face looked like an angel.
I have long thought about how he was converted by that forgiveness and how important it is to each one of us. We never know how our actions or our expressions will affect the experience of another person. Let us from day to day continue with a forgiving spirit and a Christlike experience.
Remember always that others need our love and they need our forgiveness. May we always remember to do this as day by day we walk in the Christian way.
Ruth Grosboll, matriarch of Steps to Life, lived a long life in the service of her Master. She served as a missionary nurse in Myanmar, formerly Burma. In her later years she held the position of receptionist and correspondent at Steps to Life Ministry, blessing many people with her heartfelt encouraging letters. She is sadly missed to this day.