Matt. 18:35 So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Forgiveness is found in God’s character and is to be reflected in his children. Adopted children receive all the rights and privileges of belonging to the family and begin to take on family characteristics. The Father’s love for his children was revealed in his extravagant plan for forgiveness. By giving his eternal son he revealed his character and that we are to participate in his limitless and extravagant heart of forgiveness. Note that in Jesus’ comment he refers to “my” Father — not “our” Father. When we refuse to participate in the family mission we lose out on the relationship with our heavenly Father and brother. That which we have already received we are to pass on to others. Adopted children of the kingdom will respond with heart of the Father and share wholehearted forgiveness with those who have wronged.
It is so easy to slip into a critical spirit. The twenty-four hour news cycle certainly provides a simple pathway to negativity. Little by little we become consumed with an attitude that becomes destructive to our relationship with God and others. Instead of basking in the love of our Father who wants to delight in his children we discover the downward spiral a criticism. One thing leads to another and suddenly there is nothing good left to be said. In that moment the conversation changes from “our” heavenly Father — to Jesus simply referring to “my” heavenly Father. We allow our circumstances to become so overwhelming — the attitudes and actions of others to be so discouraging — that ultimately we destroy our relationship with God. In the long run we are the ones who suffer.
God has lavished his love and forgiveness on us. Think of all the times that we have failed him and yet he loves us anyhow. Even when we weren’t seeking forgiveness God gave us his son so that we could find our way back into a holy loving relationship with our Father. If he did all of this for us — what will we do for others?
Our lives are to be a reflection of the very nature and character of God. We are to be consumed with our Father’s passions and this includes wholehearted forgiveness. It is only in forgiving others that you and I can be completely set free. A lack of forgiveness creates bondage which will not allow us to reflect the image of God. We must let loose of anything that distorts the image of God in us. This requires wholehearted forgiveness through our love for God and resulting in an overwhelming love for others.
LORD, may your loving grace flow through me in the power of reconciliation. Amen.
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