Jim Downing wrote in his book, The Other Side of Infamy, an amazing account of forgiveness. This 104 year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor shared how in 1953 he met Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese commander who led the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and, who after the war, became a Christian. It was exceedingly hard for Jim to forgive Fuchida after losing so many shipmates. But he forgave him because it was the right thing to do.
Matthew 6:12—And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Next to our need for sustenance to live is our overlapping struggle to overcome our debts—the cost of sin. Sin is the cause of world deterioration and that means it is the root source of why we die and face judgment. The only commentary Jesus gave His listeners on the prayer He taught pertains to verse 12. Two verses later He stated, “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing” (vs. 14,15). Lord George Herbert, once said, “He who cannot forgive another breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself.”
The effect of not forgiving people is bitterness. Kenneth Copeland noted in his book, The Blessing of the Lord, “Holding on to an offense against someone is like drinking poison and hoping it kills them.” It is ironic that we are all tainted by the unmistakable stain of evil yet have the chutzpah or gall to withhold forgiveness from others. There is also a sinister side to an unforgiving spirit. It is a prideful assertion that we are better and that we somehow think we can sit in the place of God. Only He has the right as an omnipotent Father to withhold forgiveness. Yet God, though grievously abused by our rebellious nature, invites us to seek His forgiveness! What a powerful lesson this should be to us to run towards His offered mercy and to freely extend it to those who have affronted us.
There is another reason to ask God for His forgiveness. Think of a child that disobeyed her parents. She avoids their presence. Why? Because she feels guilty. Are we any different? When we break God’s commands, our motivation to be with Him suffers. Our sense of unworthiness hinders fellowship. How great it feels to be clean—to be sanctified in His presence because we confessed our sin and received forgiveness! “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.—C.S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory
©2017 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)