Forgiveness is No Option

One of my favorite pictures of forgiveness is of Jesus and His disciples eating their last supper. When Jesus announced, "One of you will betray Me," no one could guess who was guilty. Nothing in His demeanor, not even a look of reproach, said to the disciples, "Judas is the man." Jesus forgave and had mercy on all who had part in His murder. "He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities" (Psalm 103:10).

By receiving God's forgiveness through Christ, I am forfeiting my right to be offended when others hurt me. "Forgive us our debts as we forgive us our debtors," is a prayer asking God to forgive us to the same degree we forgive others. Jesus adds a postscript to this prayer: "But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:15). If any bitterness or unkindness remains, if we do not fully and from the heart, forgive all men their trespasses, God cannot fully forgive us.
 
During my devotions I like to sing softly or read a hymn. This morning I read through "Come Thou Fount." I love the line that says: "Streams of mercy never ceasing." When someone has wronged us, it is good to praise for the "streams of mercy never ceasing" God is showering on them.

Even if someone does not come seeking my forgiveness, I have an obligation to grant forgiveness and extend mercy--even if the person has sinned against me repeatedly and regardless of how severe the sin may have been. My forgiveness of others allows me to receive the "streams of mercy never ceasing."

Dear God, thank you for giving me Your sweet peace and joy as I extend mercy to others.

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32).