Veronica Burlock, Worship Pastor, Wheaton | July 11, 2023

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 6:14-15

I find it easier to lean toward forgiveness when I’m in need of it. Have you experienced that too? When I’ve wronged someone, I have a pretty good argument as to why I should easily be forgiven. When the roles are reversed, however, suddenly I don’t have a firm grasp on what it means to forgive. 

To forgive means to pardon an offense or an offender. It means to not hold a grudge or seek retribution. Many of us think that forgiveness is a one-time thing. Surely, it’s not. Especially when the offense leaves a lasting sting. Maybe this is partly why Jesus says to forgive 70 times 7 times (Matt. 18:22) because you have to choose it moment by moment—sometimes for the SAME offense. 

And that is the thing, forgiveness doesn’t just happen; we must actively choose it. The best advice my sister ever gave me is something that I constantly circle back to—when you come across someone that is the opposite of you and rubs you the wrong way or has done you wrong, don’t think about what you would have done or how you’re nothing like them. Think instead of ways you are just like each other. Oof! I mean it is still a burn to the ears, but it is also quite humbling. 

It bears repeating, forgiveness boils down to a choice. I choose to forgive because I understand that God forgives me. 

Since we all need forgiveness regularly, we must not withhold it. God calls us to be Christ-like as we bear his image. Jesus forgives us and gives us the grace we need in order to learn how to choose forgiveness no matter the offense. Forgiveness doesn’t just happen, we must actively choose it.

Next Steps 

Does someone specific come to mind when you read about forgiveness? Perhaps that is His Holy Spirit inviting you to spend some time with God about it. Ask Him to help you forgive. 

Going Deeper

Grab your printout if you did that yesterday or your Bible and mark all the repeated words and note contrasts.