“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
— Matthew 6:12
Christianity is a religion of forgiveness. Christ has paid the price for all our millions of sins; He forgives and forgets each one we confess. And He expects us to do the same with those around us, forgiving and forgetting their sins against us.
We especially need to extend forgiveness to our family members. Often we are less willing to forgive a parent, sibling, spouse, or child than we are to forgive a friend or guest in our homes. For example, how would you react if a friend spilled a cup of coffee on your favorite couch? Would you react differently if a son or daughter did the very same thing? Suppose you have company and a guest picks up a beautiful vase from the table and says, “My, this is beautiful. Where did you . . . Oh, my gracious! I broke it!” You’d probably reply, “Oh, don’t worry about it. It’s nothing. I know where I can get another one.” (Never mind that you bought the vase in a little shop in Istanbul, Turkey, a place you’ll never visit again!) But would you be so tenderhearted if your spouse or even a roommate broke it?
If we want to foster healthy Christian homes, we need to extend forgiveness to those who live with us. No matter how great the offense, we need to forgive, remembering that our offenses against our forgiving God are much greater. So keep short accounts with God and with your family.
Not only must we forgive others, we must also forget their offenses against us, a much neglected aspect of forgiveness. How many times have you heard people say, “Oh, I forgive him (or her) all right, but I’ll never forget”? But true forgiving is forgetting. God says that He will forgive our sins and will remember them against us no more. In His action He models for us how we should respond when people hurt us. Forgiveness means that you don’t say, “You always do that” or “There you go again.” Forgiveness means that we don’t rehash old trespasses again and again like a cow chewing its cud. If we do, we haven’t truly forgiven.
If we choose not to forgive those who sin against us, neither will our heavenly Father forgive us. Do you need to forgive someone today, forgetting that person’s trespass against you?