B179 - Confess our sins to God for forgiveness
‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’
Every time our sins are revealed to us (by the Holy Spirit no doubt), we must return to God by confessing and seeking God for forgiveness, just like King David in Psalm 51 after his adultery was revealed to him.
Seeking forgiveness is a continuous affair and it is written into the Lord’s prayer:
‘Forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who sin against us’ (Matt 6:12, NLT).
Keep short account with God at all times.
B180 - Forgive others because we have been forgiven
Jesus told a parable about a servant who could not repay what he owed the master. His master was about to sell off his wife and children but the servant pleaded with him. On account of his plead, the master showed compassion and forgave his debt. Yet, when this servant went out, he found another fellow-servant who owed him some money. But while his fellow-servant pleaded with him, the servant was unyielding and put his fellow-servant into prison.
When this was reported back to the master, the master became enraged and severely punished the servant Matt 18:23-34.
Jesus showed us by the parable that it was important for Christians to forgive others simply because God had forgiven so much of our own sins.
We forgive because we have first been forgiven; ‘forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you’ (Eph 4:32).
B181 - Forgive as often as it happens
How often must we forgive? Jesus said in Matt 18:22,
‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.’
In other words, all the time when we are being approached to forgive.
Jesus did not just say it; he acted on it on the cross when he said,
‘Father, forgive them (those who crucified him, including the High Priest, soldiers and people who mocked him), for they know not what they do’ (Luke 22:34).
So did Stephen even while he was dying from stoning. Stephen said,
‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them (those who stoned him)’ (Acts 7:60).
In recent times, we have the civil war in Rwanda as an example. In a 100-day period of 1994, almost one million Rwandans representing 70 percent of the Tutsi population, were killed by their rival tribe, the Hutu. In addition, sexual violence was rife and up to 500,000 women were raped during the genocide.
Today, Rwanda has two public holidays to mourn the genocide and denial or historic revisionism of the genocide is forbidden and considered a criminal offence.
Yet, Rwanda is a shining economy of Africa where both tribes have learned to live side-by-side.
President Kagame, a Tutsi no doubt and an instigator of forgiveness, shared his experience with the New Times, Rwanda’s Leading Daily:
“…a huge puzzle after the genocide was, how do you pursue justice when the crime is so great? You can’t lose one million people in one hundred days without an equal number of perpetrators. But we also can’t imprison an entire nation. So, forgiveness was the our only path forward. Survivors were asked to forgive and forget. The death penalty was abolished. We focused our justice on the organizers of the Genocide. Hundreds of thousands of perpetrators were rehabilitated and released back into the communities. These decisions were agonizing…”
When challenged by a Genocide Tutsi survivor why it was necessary to forgive, President Kagame replied,
“I am very sorry. I am asking too much of you. But I don’t know what to ask of the perpetrators. Only forgiveness can heal this nation. The burden rests with the survivors because they are the only ones with something to give.”
Rwanda’s Tutsi people responded with forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. Such stories can be witnessed on numerous heart wrenching and yet inspirational videos such as these:
- BBC Africa – ‘Why I forgave the man who killed my children’
- Rwandan Tutsi forgives, and
- Rwandan genocide attackers ask their victims for forgiveness.
The willingness to forgive even in the toughest of situations is a Christian trait.
B182 - Forgive even as we are forgiven by our heavenly Father
Why do we forgive?
We forgive because we have been forgiven by our heavenly Father. We forgive because only then will our heavenly Father forgives us.
‘For if you forgive others their trepasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.’
‘Forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.’