When someone does something to hurt you or annoy you, what’s your first reaction? Well, the natural thing to do is to judge them, to condemn them. That’s fine, but whilst it may well be a natural response, it’s not always all that helpful.
I used to wonder why Jesus made such a big deal about this whole “forgiving other people” thing. In fact, He had some rather inconvenient things to say on this whole topic of forgiveness:
Luke 6:37 Don’t judge others, and God will not judge you. Don’t condemn others, and you will not be condemned. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.
The implication there is very clear. If we judge others, God will judge us. If we condemn others, He will condemn us. And if we don’t forgive others, neither will He forgive us. That’s pretty darned serious.
But when you think about it, it really makes sense. If we were all really good at this forgiving thing … there wouldn’t be any wars. And the more you think about it, the more you live it, the more you discover that letting go of judgement and condemnation, instead embracing forgiveness, takes a great deal of the stress out of life.
One of the smartest men I know is also one of the best I know at forgiving. He mentored me, so I watched him over the twenty years we worked together.
He was into pre-emptive forgiveness. With some people, he’d see their weaknesses coming at him, and even before they hit him (again!) he’d forgiven them ahead of time. And with others, when they’d throw a curved ball at his solar plexus, he’d forgive them while he was still reeling.
I think his ability to forgive, to a great extent, is what made him the smartest man that I know.
Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.
That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.