Tuesday, 8 June 2021
Title: Practising Forgiveness
By: Cecilia Tan 陈俊芳
Matthew 18: 21-22 “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
What does it mean to forgive someone? It means we put aside every injury inflicted on us as though it had never happened and give up our desire for revenge. An extremely difficult thing to do indeed but we have the Holy Spirit to help us. We live in an age rife with anger and hatred. Pandemic stress makes matters worse – tempers flare and offences abound. Forgiveness will not come naturally but it is what God expects of us!
Our Lord Jesus taught that we have to forgive unceasingly. When Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Peter had a rationale for saying “seven” times. Jewish tradition limited forgiveness to three times. Peter thought his willingness to forgive seven times was much more generous than Jewish tradition. Jesus however responded, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” This means
that we are not to limit our forgiveness to a specific number of times. As often as someone offends us and asks forgiveness, we should extend it without keeping count. Further more, even if he does not ask forgiveness, we must still forgive him!
Jesus then told the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:23-35). The servant owed the king an absurdly large amount of money and could never hope to pay it back. He begged for mercy and the merciful king forgave his servant and cancelled his impossibly huge debt. Yet the servant refused to cancel a fellow servant’s petty debt, which was just a tiny sum compared to the unforgiving servant’s huge debt! When the king heard about it, he angrily revoked the unforgiving servant’s pardon and sent him to the torturers until such time as his debt could be cleared.
The parable reveals to us the enormity of our sins against God and yet God has forgiven them all. When we compare the offences we have committed against God, our fellow human being’s offences against us are very small. We should be so appreciative of God’s forgiveness that we freely forgive others. For if we do not forgive, God is justified in not forgiving us.
Jesus Himself warned in Matthew 6:14-15 “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.” Earlier in Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus had also commanded that “if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”
The human soul is not designed to harbour hatred and resentment. An unforgiving spirit is as harmful to the soul as poison is to the body. A heart filled with anger, hostility, bitterness and malice is a wounded heart. When there is forgiveness and reconciliation, the wounds of both parties will be healed and joy prevails. Otherwise, the pain of unforgiveness will dominate the lives of both, like a heavy weight on their shoulders and a millstone around their necks, robbing them of sleep and inner peace.
Welsh evangelical preacher and prolific writer, Selwyn Hughes declared, “Nothing can be more important to the soul’s health than making sure the exercise of forgiveness is carried out regularly. Flush all bitterness out of your soul as you would flush a toxic substance out of your body.”
What is Christ’s example on forgiveness? Even as He suffered crucifixion, Jesus prayed, “ Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Our Lord set a course that would lead to love and reconciliation through His willing forgiveness of His enemies who tortured Him to death!
Just as Christ forgave our sins and reconciled us to God, restoring and healing our broken relationship with God, may we emulate Him by PRACTISING FORGIVENESS. May we forgive every injury inflicted on us and may we be willing to seek pardon for anything anyone holds against us.
Forgiveness is that balm that heals the wounds of our human frailties and binds up the fractures of our imperfect human relationships. Forgive we must – even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us!
Our Heavenly Father, we thank You for the perfect example shown to us by Your Son Jesus – hanging on a cross and suffering excruciating pain, He prayed for His enemies, “Father, forgive them.” Help us to constantly practice forgiveness, to put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another even as You have forgiven us of much. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
饶恕别人是什么意思呢？它的意思是我们抛开对我们造成的每一项伤害，像从来没有发生过一样，并且放弃我们要报仇的欲望。确实，这是一件非常困难的事，但是我们有圣灵帮助我们。我们生活在一个充满愤怒和仇恨的时代。疫情的压力使到事情变得更糟糕 – 脾气突然爆发，冒犯行为比比皆是。饶恕不会自然而然发生，但是，这是上帝对我们的期望！
我们的主耶稣教导我们，我们必须不断地饶恕。当彼得问耶稣：“主阿，我弟兄得罪我，我当饶恕他几次呢？到七次可以么？” 彼得说 “七” 次是有道理的。犹太传统将饶恕限制在三次以内。彼得认为他愿意饶恕七次已经是比犹太人的传统大方得多了。耶稣却回答说：“我对你说，不是到七次，乃是到七十个七次。” 这意味着我们不限制饶恕到一定的次数内。每当有人冒犯了我们并请求饶恕时，我们就应该不计其数地饶恕他。而且，即使他不请求饶恕，我们也要饶恕他！
就像基督赦免我们的罪使我们与上帝和好，恢复并且愈合我们与上帝破裂的关系，让我们以 “操练饶恕” 去效法祂。愿我们饶恕每一项强加于我们的伤害，让我们愿意向任何人对我们的不满寻求饶恕。
饶恕是那医治人性弱点伤口的药膏，并且愈合我们不完美人际关系的裂痕。我们必须饶恕 – 如上帝因着基督的缘故已经饶恕了我们一样！
我们在天上的父，我们感谢祢的儿子耶稣向我们展示了完美的榜样 – 钉在十字架上，忍受着极大的痛苦时，祂为祂的仇敌祷告：“父啊！赦免他们。” 求帮助我们常常操练饶恕，存着温柔的怜悯、恩慈、谦卑、柔和、彼此包容、彼此饶恕，正如祢在许多事上已经饶恕了我们一样。我们奉耶稣的名祷告。阿们。