Term 4 - Forgiveness
As we enter the season of Lent and the celebration of Easter, we consider the message of forgiveness. Forgiveness is fundamental to the character of God. Throughout the Bible, God is described as slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin (Numbers 14:18). Jesus was uncompromising in his command to forgive. Forgive, he said, ‘seventy times seven’ (Matthew 18:21). In other words, forgive and keep on forgiving without limit. Forgiveness was at the heart of everything he did and is at the heart of the Lord’s Prayer. Christian preaching has always put forgiveness at the centre. We forgive because we are forgiven. Paul says: ‘Be compassionate and kind to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’ (Ephesians 4:32) During Holy week, Jesus talked about forgiveness. At the last supper he said ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’ (Mathew 26:28) On the cross Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’(Luke 23:24) Forgiveness cannot be given or received unless it is asked for, and the asking must be genuine and from the heart. Too often ‘sorry’ is said very easily, implying: ‘All I need to do is say I’m sorry and everything will be OK’. Real repentance demands that we take what we have done wrong with the utmost seriousness and have a deep desire not to do it again. Once we understand that, forgiveness can be truly liberating both for the person who is forgiven and for the person who forgives.