As C.S. Lewis pointed out, ‘To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.’ As far as forgiving yourself is concerned, he wrote, ‘If God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than him.’

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, 2001, New York: Harper Collins p.158 and Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, 2007, Zondervan, p.1591 (and BiOY 2020, day 70)

Forgiveness is a release. I love birds. I love to watch them in flight; I love to listen to them singing; I love their beautiful colours and I love to feed them. One of the things that I often find so cruel and unnecessary is to see a beautiful bird locked up in a cage, or for that matter any animal caged or tethered to a stake in order to restrict its movement. The cage or chain becomes a prison, which limits or stops the animal from doing what comes naturally to it; what it is meant to do. Most of the time I find the cruelty is not so much in the cage or the chain but in the animal’s desire to be free. It is often the same with some people, especially those who are harbouring resentment and unforgiveness.

Unforgiveness is like a chain or a cage that imprisons people; it makes them angry, bitter and resentful, and those feelings usually fester until they get out of proportion and completely overwhelm the person. In a nutshell, unforgiveness holds you back; it restricts you and limits your potential. Forgiveness, on the other hand, is a release: it is like opening the cage and freeing the chains that restrain you. Forgiveness allows you to soar again and become the person that you are meant to be. So, if you are harbouring resentment do yourself a favour and let go of it. It really doesn’t matter what others may have said or done, life is too short to let it or them hold you back. Forgive, forget and be free to move on again.

R. Ian Seymour

Ernest Hemingway wrote a story about a father and rebellious son. The son had done wrong and in his shame he ran away from home. In the story the father searched all over Spain for Paco, but he couldn’t find him anywhere. Finally, in Madrid, in a last desperate attempt to find his son, the father placed an ad in the daily newspaper. The advert read: “PACO, MEET AT HOTEL MONTANA NOON TUESDAY. ALL IS FORGIVEN. PAPA.”

The father prayed that the boy would see the ad and maybe – just maybe – he would come to the Hotel Montana. And so on Tuesday at noon the father arrived at Hotel Montana and he couldn’t believe his eyes. The police had been called to control the crowd of eight hundred young men all named “Paco” who had come to the hotel to meet their father. Eight hundred boys named Paco read the ad in the newspaper and hoped the message was for them. Eight hundred “Pacos” came to receive the forgiveness they so desperately needed.

This story illustrates the great truth that Jesus was driving at in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Just as there are many Pacos in Hemingway’s story, so there are many prodigals out there who need the Father’s forgiveness.

Source: John Maxwell, 1999, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, p.19-20

Jesus took and paid for all our sins – past, present and future. God takes all our sins and buries them in the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19), and as the Dutch author Corrie Ten Boon used to say, ‘He puts up a sign that saying “No Fishing.”

It doesn’t matter what a person’s past may have been like; their future is spotless.

Amazing Grace: John Newton was born in London on July 24th, 1725. His father was the commander of a merchant ship and as a boy John went to sea with him often. By the age of nineteen he had joined the navy but in the course of time he left and went on to captain his own ship, which he then plied exclusively in the slave trade.

On May 10th, 1748, whilst on a return journey from Africa with his ship fully laden with hundreds of slaves, Newton almost lost everything, including his own life. His ship was caught up in a violent storm and in a desperate bid to save himself, his ship, his cargo and his crew, Newton cried out to God to have mercy on him. His prayers were answered and the storm miraculously broke. Everything was saved and the events of that day changed John Newton’s life forever.

As a direct result of this experience, Newton gave up his life as a slave-trader and, instead, he dedicated his life to serving God. He went on to become a Christian minister in England and he also became very close friends with John Wesley (founder of the Methodist church) and also William Wilberforce, the man who went on to lead the campaign for the abolition of slavery.

John Newton, the once notorious slave trader turned Christian minister, wrote many wonderful hymns. By far the most famous of which, is this one:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now am found;

Was blind but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

And grace my fears relieved.

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,

I have already come.

‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

Bright shining like the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,

Than when we first begun.

Elie Wiesel (vee-zel), the Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor, said in a prayer on the 50th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz: “God of forgiveness, do not forgive those murders of Jewish children here.”

If you have suffered greatly, there may be a part of your heart that resonates with Elie Wiesel’s words. You might be saying, “How can you tell me to forgive? You don’t know how much that person has hurt me!”

You’re right, I don’t. But I do know the person is still hurting you, because the pain is still obviously there and you are still bound to the past.

We don’t heal [first] in order to forgive we forgive in order to heal. Forgiveness is necessary for healing. But forgiveness does not mean tolerating sin or placing oneself back under the power of an abuser. God never tolerates sin and neither should we. We must take appropriate steps to protect ourselves for continuing abuse.

We don’t forgive another person for their sake. We do it for our sake. To forgive is to set the captive free, and we were the captives!

Neil Anderson & Rich Miller, Getting Anger Under Control, 2002, Oregon USA: Harvest House Publishing, p.140-142

Years after her harrowing experience in a Nazi concentration camp, Corrie ten Boom was speaking in a church when she found herself standing face-to-face with a man who had been one of the cruellest guards she had ever met in the camps. This man had humiliated and degraded both her and her sister, jeering at them and visually ‘raping’ them as they stood in the delousing shower. Now he stood before her with an outstretched hand, asking, ‘Will you forgive me?’ Corrie said, ‘I stood there with coldness clutching at my heart, but I knew that the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. I prayed, “Jesus, help me!” Woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me, and when I did I experienced an incredible thing. The current started in my shoulder, raced down into my arm, and sprang into our clutched hands. Then this warm reconciliation seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. “I forgive you, brother,” I cried with my whole heart. For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I have never known the love of God as intensely as I did in that moment.’

The Bible says, ‘be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you’’ (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV). Who are you struggling to forgive today? Rise above your feelings and do it! When you do, you will set yourself free and be able to walk in the peace and joy of the Lord.

Source: The UCB Word For Today, 14/6/2017)

Nicky Gumbel relates how four bullets hit Pope John Paul II – two of them lodging in his lower intestine, the others hitting his left hand and right arm. This assassination attempt on the Pope in May 1981 left him severely wounded and with considerable blood loss – his health was never the same again. In July 1981, the perpetrator, Ali Aƒüca, was sentenced to life imprisonment. Pope John Paul II asked people to pray ‘for my brother Aƒüca, whom I have sincerely forgiven’.

Two years later, he was to take the hand of Ali Aƒüca, then in prison, and quietly tell him that he had forgiven him for what he had done (even though his would-be killer had not asked for forgiveness). He developed a friendship over the years, meeting Aƒüca’s mother in 1987 and his brother a decade later. In June 2000 Aƒüca was pardoned by the Italian President at the Pope’s request. In February 2005 Aƒüca sent a letter to the Pope wishing him well. When the Pope died on 2 April 2005, Aƒüca’s brother, Adrian, gave an interview saying that Aƒüca and his entire family were grieving and that the Pope had been a great friend to them.

Pope John Paul II’s response of love and mercy is exemplary. God’s love and mercy is even more extraordinary because ‘At the cross of Jesus, pardon is complete. Love and justice mingle, truth and mercy meet.’

Nicky Gumbel, Bible in One Year 2020, day 93

Here’s a challenge for you. Try to be especially nice to someone you don’t particularly like or someone who doesn’t particularly like you. Why? Well for one thing, harbouring resentment or discord is a major stumbling block to your personal development. The fact is, when you are holding grudges you are actually holding yourself back. Put succinctly, forgiveness is a release. Besides which, true forgiveness and humility are both edifying and enlightening.

It’s obviously very difficult to dislike someone who is being nice to you. So, go out of your way to be nice to the person you have a disliking for (or dislikes you) and make them like you.

Let me give you an example. Imagine you are walking down a quiet street and on the other side of the road you notice the school bully from years ago. In the intervening years this man has become a nasty, violent criminal, the worst of the worst. He is known as having no respect for anyone or anything and he is feared and despised by all your neighbours and especially by yourself. You quicken your step and put your head down to try and avoid him but Mr Lowlife has spotted you. He scowls then crosses the road and stops to speak to you. As you nervously stand there, Mr. Lowlife’s scowl turns into a strained smile and then, rather awkwardly, he says, “You know, as funny as it may seem after all these years, I really respect and admire you. I know that I’m a ‘Lowlife’ and I’ve done some horrible things in my time, but if I could turn the clocks back and have my time over again, I’d want to turn out just like you. You know what you’re a really nice guy!” With that Mr. Lowlife hesitates for only a second then he humbly smiles, turns and walks off in the other direction leaving you completely dumbfounded!

Now, how would you feel about your former school bully and the present day Mr Lowlife? Well, he’s not all that bad is he? There must be streak or two of goodness in him. And deep down, I’ll bet he’s really got a heart of gold. It’s just that he’s had a tough upbringing, he’s had a rough time and been through a lot and it’s difficult for him to show his true self! And the very next time one of your neighbours has something derogative to say about Mr. Lowlife, how are you going to react? I think it’s a pretty fair assumption to say that you will fight his corner; you will stick up for him and defend him. Why? Because Mr. Lowlife likes you; he as much as told you so. And it’s very difficult to dislike someone who likes you.

So then, if you are holding any grudges, if you dislike someone or their behaviour towards you – then make the first move, say something to make amends and, as the saying goes, “don’t delay do it today”. Edwin Louis Cole wrote, “There are times when silence is golden, other times it is just plain yellow.” Don’t be yellow! Make the first move. Be courageous. Be bold. You can never be sure of what the other person’s response will be but if the forgiveness is not mutual, let it be their problem, not yours. Life is too short to hold grudges, so deal with yours straight away and remember one last thing; no one ever choked swallowing their pride!

– R. Ian Seymour

R. Ian Seymour, excerpt from Maximize Your Potential

Grace is God’s generous act of offering us life, hope, peace, meaning, purpose, forgiveness, reconciliation, strength, intimacy, adoption, a new start, significance, worth, beauty, love, acceptance, friendship, and ten thousand other things through His Son Jesus Christ, even though we do not deserve such kindness and compassion.

Malcolm Duncan

Malcolm Duncan, Risk Takers, p.163

Mark Batterson writes, ‘I recently came across a rather interesting reality show, Barter Kings. It’s all about trading something of lesser value for something of greater value. Do it enough times, and you might just end up with something of significant value. Start with a toaster, for example, and trade it for a used bike; then trade the used bike for a microwave. Trade the microwave for airplane tickets, the airplane tickets for a horse, the horse for a used car, and the used car for Jet Skis. Voila! The show tracks those trading strings, and it’s full of twist and turns.

One of the most famous trading strings involved a Canadian blogger, Kyle MacDonald, who started with one red paper clip. It took him nearly a year and fourteen random transactions, which included a hand-sculptured doorknob, a motorised snow globe, and a role in a film. By the time he had done, the red paper clip was battered all the way to a two-storey farmhouse in Kipling, Canada. Pretty crazy, but not as crazy as the gospel. Here’s the deal that the real Barter King puts on the table: you trade all of your sin for all of My righteousness, and we’ll call it even. You’ll never get a better barter. And that’s why it called the Good News.’

Mark Batterson, IF, 2015, Grand Rapids: Michigan, Baker Books, p.108-109

Max Lucado writes: ‘I received a call from a friend named Kenny. He had just returned from Disneyworld. “I saw a sight I’ll never forget,” he said. He and his family were in Cinderella’s castle. Suddenly all the children rushed to one side. Cinderella had entered. She stood waist-deep in kids, each wanting to be touched. Kenny turned toward the other side of the castle. It was now vacant, except for a boy; his age was hard to determine because of the disfigurement of his body… he stood watching… longing to be in the middle of the kids reaching for Cinderella. But can’t you feel his fear; fear of yet another rejection? Fear of being mocked again? Don’t you wish Cinderella would go to him? Guess what? She did! She walked across the floor, knelt at eye level with the stunned little boy and placed a kiss on his cheek. “I thought you would appreciate the story,” Kenny told me.

‘I did. It reminded me of another one. The names are different, but isn’t the story the same? Rather than a princess of Disney, it’s the Prince of Peace. Rather than a boy in a castle, it’s a thief on the cross. In both cases a gift was given. In both cases love was shared. In both cases the lovely one performed a gesture beyond words. But Jesus did more than Cinderella. Cinderella gave only a kiss. When she stood to leave she took her beauty with her. The boy was still deformed. What if Cinderella had done what Jesus did? What if she assumed his state? What if she had somehow given her beauty and taken on his disfigurement? That’s what Jesus did – for you!

Source: quoted in The UCB Word For Today , 4/9/2007

A lady in an airport lounge bought a packet of biscuits and sat down to read the newspaper. She heard a rustling noise and looked up to see the man beside her helping himself to the biscuits. Not wanting to make a scene, she leaned over and took one herself, hoping he’d get the message. Then she heard more rustling. She couldn’t believe it. The man was helping himself to another biscuit! There was only one left! She watched in disbelief as he broke the remaining biscuit in two, pushed half across to her, popped the other half in his mouth, and left. She was still furious when her flight was announced. Imagine how she felt when she opened her handbag to get her ticket out… And found her unopened packet of biscuits!

Source: The UCB Word For Today, 3/6/2015

The best policy is to forgive and forget because resentment is carnivorous; it eats you alive.

R. Ian Seymour

‘Forgiveness’ has the word ‘give’ in it. Forgiveness is not getting even. It is giving away the right to get even.

John Piper

John Piper, The Passion of Christ, p.36

God desires that no one should ever perish but that everyone would come to repentance (see 2 Peter 3:9). To put that another way, God’s forgiveness is available to everyone but it is not a given; it’s not automatic. There is something we must do in order to receive salvation (salvation means we are saved from God’s judgment and the consequences of our sin); there is something we must do to receive salvation and God’s forgiveness: we must repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15). We must accept Jesus and what He has accomplished for us. It’s like the marriage ceremony: in sending his Son to save us God says to all who will listen:

“Sinner, Do you take this Saviour?”

“I will” (is the response God so desires to hear)

“And Saviour, do you take this sinner?”

“I will,” (says Jesus, with his arms stretched wide open!)

Billy Graham asked: ‘Who doesn’t accept a free pardon? You may be surprised to know that many nations around the world make provision for pardoning criminals. The constitution of Spain, for example, forbids general pardons but states that “individual pardons are a gracious measure granted to sentenced convicts by the King.” South Africa’s constitution gives the president the right to pardon a person for wrongdoing. Would you be surprised to learn that not everyone who is offered a pardon accepts it? Who, you might ask, would refuse a pardon? The answer is those who would, perhaps, refuse to be saved from a sinking ship. Then there are those who believe they can save themselves. From the records of the US Supreme Court comes such a story of defiance. In 1829, a man by the name of George Wilson was indicted for robbing the mail in Pennsylvania and endangering the life of a government mail carrier. For this crime “against the peace and dignity of the United States of America,” Wilson was tried and sentenced to death. But the president of the United States sent Wilson a pardon, stating (quote): “I, Andrew Jackson, President of the United States of America… have pardoned… George Wilson the crime for which he has been sentenced to suffer death, remitting the penalty [as stated]… In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed to these presents.”

At that point Wilson did a strange thing: he refused to accept the pardon. No one seemed to know what to do, so Wilson was sent to the Supreme Court. After reviewing the facts of the case, Chief Justice John Marshall delivered the court’s opinion that the value of the pardon is determined by the acceptance of the one receiving it and that, if refused, the pardon does not stand. The chief justice concluded that Wilson must be hanged. And he was.

Source: Billy Graham, The Reason For My Hope, p.48-9

Forgive yourself: ‘Pick a date, any date after February 5, 1980. Jill Price can instantly tell you what day of the week it was, what she did that day and any major event that took place. She can even tell you what the weather was like. For most of us, our problem is remembering. For Jill Price, it’s forgetting. She has a condition called hyperthymestic syndrome – automatic autobiographical recall on every day of her life from the age of fourteen on. For the average person, autobiographical memory is highly selective. We tend to remember emotional experiences or significant events like a first kiss, a big game, or an epic adventure. Unfortunately, we also remember highly embarrassing moments.

Studies suggest that just 3 percent of life events are highly memorable. So over the course of an average year, approximately seventeen experiences will make it into long-term memory. The other 97 percent of life doesn’t make the cut. Most of life fades into the black hole called the subconscious.

But that’s not true for Jill Price. Jill remembers everything. She remembers that the final episode of M*A*S*H aired on February 28, 1983. She remembers that is was a Monday. She also remembers that it was a rainy day and that her windscreen wipers stopped working.

That might seem like a gift, and it is, if you are trying to remember names or birthdays. But there is a downside, a dark side. In her memoir, The Woman Who Can’t Forget, Jill says, “Imagine being able to remember every fight you ever had with a friend; every time someone let you down; all the stupid mistakes you’ve ever made; the meanest, most harmful things you’ve ever said to people and those they’ve said to you. Then imagine not being able to push them out of your mind no matter what you tried.”

For Jill, the emotions aren’t [whittled] down by time. They a just as potent as the day she experienced them. “As I grew up and more and more memories were stored in my brain,” Jill says, “more and more of them flashed through my mind in this endless barrage, and I became a prisoner to my memory.”

A prisoner to my memory: In that respect, Jill isn’t alone. Consciously or subconsciously, most of us are prisoners of our past. Even if we’ve confessed our sin, we still feel condemned. And that feeling of condemnation undermines the fact that God is for us. We keep beating ourselves up. We keep sabotaging ourselves; we keep believing the self-defeating lies that come from the enemy and become self-fulfilling prophecies. The only exit is fully accepting, understanding, and believing the life-changing truth that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. None. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Not a trace. Not a whiff. Not a hint.

Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson, IF, 2015, Grand Rapids: Michigan, Baker Books, p.28-30

Nicky Gumbel writes: “William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951), on whose life the film Citizen Kane was based, built up the largest newspaper chain in the United States during the 1920’s. He built himself a grandiose castle on a 240,000 acres ranch in California. It contained a vast collection of antiques and objects d’art in which he invested a huge fortune. He collected them from all over the world and stored them in warehouses in different places.

One day he came across a description of a valuable piece of art in a magazine. He was determined to get hold of it, but no one knew where it was. He sent his agent all over the world to find it. Months and months went by. Finally the man came back and reported, ‘Mr Hearst, I have found it.’ With great joy he asked, ‘Where? Where was it?’ The man replied, ‘It was in your own warehouse. You bought it years ago.’

William Randolph Hearst had been frantically searching for what he already possessed. Many Christians are also frantically searching for what they already possess.”

Source: Nicky Gumbel, 30 DAYS: A Practical Introduction to Reading the Bible, 2006, Alpha Publications, p.49

When Satan tempts me to despair,

And tells me of the guilt within,

Upward I look, and see Him there

Who made an end of all my sin.

Charitie Lees Bancroft (1841-?) (From hymn, <i>‘Before The Throne Of God’</i>.))

It is possible to possess something without embracing or enjoying it. This difference between possession and enjoyment is well illustrated in the story of Louis Delcourt. He was a young French soldier during the First World War who overstayed his leave and, fearing disgrace, he decided to desert. He persuaded his mother to lock him up in the attic of their house and there she hid him and fed him for twenty-one years. But in August 1937 his mother died. There was no chance now of his retaining his incognito and remaining in hiding. So, pale and haggard, he staggered along to the nearest gendarmerie, where he gave himself up. The gendarme looked at him in utter incredulity and asked him, ‘where have you been that you have not heard?’ ‘Haven’t heard what?’ asked Louis. ‘That a law of amnesty for all deserters was past years ago.’

Louis Delcourt had freedom but did not enjoy it because he did not know that he had it. It is the same with many Christian people today. They have been set free by Jesus Christ. But many are not enjoying their freedom because they do not know that they have it!

John Stott

John Stott, The Living Church , p.158-159

There’s a story told about a pub somewhere in Australia that used to keep an eagle tethered to the ground, as a sort of public attraction. The eagle would just walk round and round in circles all day long, waiting to be fed on scraps of meat, usually for the entertainment of the customers. Well, the pub eventually changed hands and the new landlord thought it cruel to keep the eagle tethered to the ground, so he cut the bonds and set it free. The eagle, however, instead of using its freedom and flying away from the thing that had held it in bondage for so long, just continued to walk round in circles.

It’s a similar story with Christians: We have received forgiveness and with it a release from the prison that once held us. We have been set free from the bondage of sin that once had such a hold on us. Now, we’re called to use our freedom! Instead of remaining a slave to sin we must choose instead to become a slave to righteousness: to follow Christ and live a life that pleases him.

Forgive, forget and move forward or resent, remember and remain trapped.

When some Moravian missionaries took the message of God to the Eskimos, the missionaries struggled to find a word in the native language for forgiveness. They finally landed on this cumbersome twenty-four-letter choice: “issumagijoujungnainermik”. This formidable assembly of letters is literally translated “not being able to think about it anymore.

Source: Max Lucado, 2006, Facing Your Giants, Nashville Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, p.50

Mark Batterson comments: God got Israel out of Egypt in one day, but it took forty years to get Egypt out of Israel. (…) Technically, the Israelites were set free at the exodus. Practically, it took forty years to fully exercise their demons. (…) If you are in Christ, you are no longer defined by what you’ve done wrong. You are defined by what Christ has done right. You are a new creation, but sometimes it takes some time for your new nature to become second nature. God can deliver you in one day, but it may take years to break old habits or build new ones. (…) Jesus came to put the past in its place – the past. We just need to leave it there. (…) Christ crucified our sin by nailing it to a cross. Don’t resurrect it!

Mark Batterson, IF, 2015, Grand Rapids: Michigan, Baker Books, p.31-32

How heavy is a glass of water? That depends on how long you have to carry it for. A minute is no problem… after an hour your arm might ache, but after 24 hours you’ll probably be in fairly bad shape! In each case the glass weighs exactly the same but the longer you carry it the heavier it feels. It is the same with carrying a grudge or un-forgiveness.

Source: quoted in The UCB Word For Today , 20/6/2008

Michelangelo once stood in front of a huge block of marble and was asked, ‘What are you looking at?’ He replied, ‘I see an angel trapped in the stone and I intend to release him.’ – Jesus will do the same for us, if we will ask him. He knows that sometimes we are ugly people who do ugly things but Jesus sees the beauty within each of us, and He always responds when people seek him in faith.

Corrie Ten Boom – the famous Dutch Christian and wartime heroine – once told of not being able to forget a wrong that had been done to her. She had forgiven the person, but still she kept rehearsing the incident over and over in her mind and she couldn’t sleep. Finally, she cried out to God for help in putting the problem to rest. Corrie Ten Boom wrote: “My help came in the form of a kindly Lutheran pastor to whom I confessed my failure after two sleepless weeks.” – “Up in the church tower,” he said, nodding out the window, “is a bell which is rung by pulling on a rope. But after the sexton lets go of the rope, the bell keeps on swinging. First ding, then dong. Slower and slower until there’s a final dong and it stops. I believe the same thing is true of forgiveness. When we forgive, we take our hand off the rope. But if we’ve been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we mustn’t be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while. They’re just the ding-dongs of the old bell slowing down.” – “And so it proved to be” said Corrie. “There were a few more midnight reverberations, a couple of dings when the subject came up again in my conversations, but the force—which was my willingness [to accommodate] the matter—had gone out of them, and at the last they stopped.”

When God forgives He consigns the offence to everlasting forgetfulness. He wants us to do the same. When you love those who have hurt you; when you love the unlovely, you’re just doing what God did for you.

Jesus was crucified on the cross so that we could stop crucifying ourselves for the things we do wrong. He has hung up for our hang ups. That’s good news!

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemes of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:28-29). To blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is to deny that Jesus is the Christ; that is to deny God; to sin. All other sins will be forgiven. This is the only exception! Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the ‘persistent, deliberate rejection of the Spirit’s call to salvation in Christ’ means a refusal to confess our rebellion and seek God’s remedy in Christ.

Explore Bible notes, 16/12/2004

Illustration using a journal of jotter pad: Supposing this book represents your life, and every wrong thing you have ever done or thought or said is recorded in it. – There are many dark pages in my own book that I don’t want you to know about. – Now supposing this (left palm) is you and the ceiling represents God. And between us and God is this book, this barrier; the record of our sin! – SIN SEPERATES US FROM GOD. Because God is pure and holy and just, He has to punish sin, otherwise He wouldn’t be true to His nature: He wouldn’t be just. That’s what happened on the cross: Jesus took the punishment we deserve upon himself. Now supposing this (right palm) is Jesus. Jesus is the only perfect man who ever lived. There was nothing separating Jesus from God. But on the cross a transfer took place. Jesus took our sin (our book) upon himself and God laid the punishment we deserve on his Son – That’s why, just before he died, Jesus cried out, It is finished (it is paid). What is? The price of our salvation: Jesus bearing the cost of our sin. It is finished: Paid in full, over ever sin you would ever commit from the womb to the tomb! And for those who are trusting in Jesus; who accept the cross and what Jesus accomplished for us, well let me ask you, what now stands in the way of us and God? – Nothing. That’s right! Jesus has opened the way for us to receive forgiveness, for us to know God personally and to be in relationship with him… If you haven’t yet done so, will you turn to Christ and receive his forgiveness.

The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life.

Proverbs 15:4

Billy Graham, the world famous evangelist, used to say: “I can do something God cannot do! I can remember my sins. God doesn’t.” – God forgives us. He removes our sins and remembers them no more.

I saw one hanging on a tree in agony and blood

Who fixed His loving eyes on me as near His cross I stood

And never till my dying breath will I forget that look

It seemed to charge me with His death though not a word He spoke

My conscience felt and owned the guilt and plunged me in despair

I saw my sins His blood had spilt and helped to nail Him there

But with a second look He said “I freely all forgive

this blood is for your ransom paid; I died that you might live”

John Newton

You can’t earn God’s forgiveness: If you gave someone you loved a birthday gift and they insisted on paying for it, how would you feel? Hurt? Upset? That’s how God feels when you try to ‘earn’ his forgiveness.

Bob Gass

Source: The UCB Word For Today, 26/10/17

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Luke 6:37

Mark Batterson comments on the story in John’s Gospel of the women who is caught in the act of adultery. The religious mob is ready to stone her to death when Jesus steps up and steps in. Jesus doesn’t defend her adultery, but He does defend this adulteress. And His defence is pure brilliance: “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” (…) ‘I can’t help but wonder,’ Batterson says, ‘would I have come to this woman’s defence, or would I have picked up a stone? I honestly don’t know, but I’ll tell you this. Whenever I hear about a high-profile failure, I try never to respond in a holier-than-thou fashion. The first thing that fires across my synapses is John Bradford’s famous adage: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”’

Mark Batterson, IF, 2015, Grand Rapids: Michigan, Baker Books, p.31

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), Indian politician and social reformer

Max Lucado writes, ‘Having received God’s forgiveness, live forgiven! But you may need to silence some cockerels first! Booker T. Washington relates a helpful story of the day his mother did just that. Every morning of his young life, he, along with all the plantation slaves, was awakened by the crow of a cockerel. Long before daybreak the unwelcome noise would fill the sod shanties, reminding Washington and his fellow workers to crawl out of bed and leave for the cotton fields. The cockerel’s crow came to symbolise their dictated life of long days and backbreaking labour. But then came the Emancipation Proclamation. Abraham Lincoln pronounced freedom for slaves. The first morning afterward, young Booker was awakened by the cockerel again. Only this time his mother was chasing it around the barnyard with an axe. The Washington family fried and ate their alarm clock for lunch. Their first act of freedom was to silence the reminder of slavery.

Any cockerel’s stealing your sleep? You might need to sharpen the axe. The great news of the gospel is, yes, his grace is real, and so is our freedom.’

Source: Max Lucado, 2009, Fearless, Nashville Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, p.38-39

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offence.

Proverbs 19:11

“In taking revenge a man is but even with his enemies; but in passing it over, he is superior.”

Francis Bacon (1561-1626), philosopher and writer

I don’t get even; I get odder!

If you had to pay just one penny of the debt for your own sin, it would make you a co-redeemer with Christ… You can’t earn forgiveness you can only accept it. It is by grace you have been saved.

GRACE means God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense

Some time ago I went out for a walk and it was quite late as I began to near home again. In fact, it was starting to get dark and so I took a short cut across some fields and a stream to end up in the woods at the bottom of our road.

Being winter-time the stream was full and so I tried to walk across a fallen tree but I slipped and fell backwards head over heels into the slimy, filthy water right up to my neck! – I even ruined my mobile phone. – I couldn’t believe how wet I was in such shallow water!

Completely drenched from head to toe and covered in mud, jelly-like-orange slime and pondweed; the shock of the near-freezing cold water literally took my breath away. I cried out to God asking Him to help me, and he did because I managed to clamber out. – (Interesting: Psalm 40v1-2 says: ‘The LORD… turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.’ – I knew one day I’d find a sermon in there somewhere!)

Totally drenched and somewhat bemused, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at my predicament and the way I looked. Utterly humiliated I stayed in the shadows, hoping that no one would see me as I crept up our street leaving a trail of pond water and yucky-orange slime behind me; shivering uncontrollably, my teeth chattering with cold, and the dirty water in my boots making squelching noises with every step. Uurrgghh… I looked like the swamp monster emerging out the darkness!

And when I did finally get home, to the back door, Suzanne wouldn’t let me in; she wouldn’t let me come traipsing in all over her freshly cleaned kitchen floor. Instead, she had to strip me off outside and scrub me down first before she would let me step inside and be comforted.

Likewise, before we can become a part of God’s kingdom, we need to be stripped and washed clean; we need to be forgiven. Mankind can no more enter the presence of God than a germ can take a bath in a bowl of bleach! No matter how clean or good we are or try to be, we can never meet God’s standard by ourselves. We need to be cleansed, washed, forgiven. We need a mediator. We need a Saviour; we need Jesus to forgive us and cleanse us.

R. Ian Seymour

“The price of forgiveness is always less than the price of unforgiveness.”

Paul J. Meyer

When you bury the hatchet, don’t bury it in your neighbour’s back.

Two monks came to a river where there was a young woman unable to cross because of the strong current. One of the monks offered to carry her across on his back, which he duly did. The two monks set off again in silence. After a few miles the other monk said to his companion: ‘Doesn’t it worry you that you carried that young woman across the river when we’re not supposed to have any physical contact with women?’ ‘Ah,’ said the other monk, ‘I put her down five miles ago, but I think it is you who are carrying her now.’

Source: John Pritchard, 2013, Living Faithfully, London: SPCK. p.51

Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

Holding a grudge is like letting someone live rent-free in your head.

A grudge is something that doesn’t get better when you nurse it!

You can’t nurse a grudge and make things better.

“As every cat knows some things need to be buried.”

Ruth Bell Graham

You wouldn’t throw your car away if the radiator sprung a leak, would you? And you wouldn’t throw your bicycle away if the tyre gets a puncture? – No. You’d fix it! – How much more, then, are people and relationships worth? Fix the issue. ‘Forgiveness’ has the word ‘give’ in it. Forgive and let go.

John Stott wrote: “The parable of the lost son gives us a vivid account of human lost-ness. Here is everybody’s autobiography. The son made a deliberate bid for independence. Then in the far away country his self-will degenerated into self-indulgence. His lifestyle became extravagant and immoral. And when famine struck, he sank low enough to feed pigs. No one lifted a finger to help him. He was bankrupt, hungry and alone. Meanwhile his father’s love never faltered. He missed him and longed for his return. This is grace, namely unmerited and unsolicited love. Moreover, God’s love suffers for us. The whole village would have known the son was in disgrace, deserving to be punished. But instead of inflicting suffering on his son, the father bears it himself. A man of his age and position would always walk in slow, dignified steps, and would never run anywhere. Yet here he is racing down the road, risking the ridicule of the whole village, and taking on himself the shame and humiliation due to his returning son. The father’s coming down and going out hint at the incarnation; the spectacle in the street hints at the cross.”

We are prone to minimize our own offences (and so require only a light dose of forgiveness), while we maximize the offences of others (and the heavy doses of forgiveness they require and that we find hard to dispense.

The only people we should even get even with – are those who have helped us!