15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Forgive those who hurt you.
In the simple prayer that Jesus gave just before the words of our focus, forgiveness is the only obligation addressed to humans – all else is provided by God. This only, we must do. And in our action we follow God’s own example.
The Greek word for ‘forgive’ used in the New Testament normally means ‘to let go, to dispose of something’. This offers us insight for life. To not forgive another means to let what they have done affect who we are – this is a choice to our detriment, which not even God can change, nor can God relieve us of the consequences of our choice. And to not forgive leads us towards hatred and revenge which are discussed just before (Matt 5: 38-48; headlines 13 & 14)
By contrast, to ‘let go’ of the hurt others have caused us is to ‘let go’ of the grip they have gained, by their actions, over our mind and emotions. To ‘let it drop’ frees me to look at my own need for forgiveness, to be loved by God and to live freely with love for others, as God intended.
By practicing this act, which only takes a moment, I become a peace-maker, rather than a peace-breaker (Matt 5:9)
John Steward has been a community development consultant in many countries, and since 1999 has mentored healers and peace-builders following the Rwandan genocide of 1994.