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21st July: Forgiving Others

And forgive us... as we also have forgiven... Matthew 6:12

The readiness to forgive those who have wronged us is a fundamental part of Jesus' teaching about our own forgiveness, as we see from those words in the Lord's Prayer. It is brought out vividly in the parable about the servant who owed the king 'millions of pounds' which he could not pay (Mt 18:21-35 GNB). When the king ordered him to be sold into slavery, he begged for time to pay.

'The king felt sorry for him so he forgave him the debt and let him go. The man went out and met one of his fellow-servants who owed him a few pounds. He grabbed him and started choking him. "Pay back what you owe me!"... he had him thrown into jail until he should pay the debt... So the king called the servant in. "You worthless slave!" he said. "I forgave you the whole amount you owed me, just because you asked me to. You should have had mercy on your fellow-servant, just as I had mercy on you."'

This parable is couched in harsh terms, merely to emphasise the importance of this aspect of our Christian work. Our forgiveness cost the Lord Jesus everything: compared with that any forgiveness we may offer is cheap, yet by withholding it we dishonour our Saviour before our fellows.

The principle can arise quite subtly in the most everyday happenings, so we need to be on our guard. Simple examples in hospital life readily come to kind. Duty rotas inevitably result in 'our' patients being treated by other doctors. How easily we resent their mistakes or omissions, perhaps forgetting the problems associated with unfamiliar patients, to which we are equally vulnerable -- and forgetting our own wish to be forgiven in comparable circumstances. Rotas also have a tendency to be 'unfair'. Should we always expect our exact ration of off-duty -- and want to blame someone if we do not get it? We can all think of more examples of 'forgive as forgiven'.

Lord, as I have been forgiven by so great a sacrifice,
grant me a forgiving spirit, not grudging, but willing
to make sacrifices.

Further reading: Mt 6:12-15, 18:21-35. Col 3:12-13.


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