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Why Forgive?

Matthew 18:21-35

 Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church* sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven* times.


This is a tough one. But if you have ever needed to forgive, you know how the longing and desire to forgive gnaws at your soul. Harassed by the memories of what you can’t forgive, your thoughts become malignant toward others, and your whole view of life becomes distorted. Anger begins to rage in you, and it can easily get out of control. Your emotions begin to run wild. You entertain continuing thoughts of revenge.

In his book Why Forgive?, Johann Christoph Arnold opens with a chapter called "The Cancer of Bitterness" and continues with chapters like "Ending the cycle of Hatred, Bless your Persecutors, and Accepting Responsibility." In the book, he tells numerous stories of people and situations in which the harrowing effects of violent crime, abuse, bigotry and war have left battle scars that seem irreparable. If you are one who struggles to forgive, you know the pain. And if you are one who has forgiven, you know the peace of mind you have found in doing so.

Alan Paton, the great author who wrote Cry, the Beloved Country, knew well the need for forgiveness and the angst of a people of South Africa who turned against each other, leaving little hope for any reconciliation. In fact one of his most famous characters, Msimangu, a mission priest and one of the spokesmen for many of the central problems of the novel said, "My greatest fear is that when they are turned to loving, we will be turned to hating." Perhaps this is the answer to Arnold's question why forgive? Paton also said,

"There is a hard law...when an injury is done to us, we never recover until we forgive."


That my friends is the real reason why we must forgive.



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