Why Should I Forgive?
In Mark 16:7 there are two words that hold so much meaning to me. It’s just after the resurrection and the angel at the tomb tells the women “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.” Can you guess which two words in that statement hold such meaning? The two words are “and Peter”. Those two words define God’s grace. Those two words define the term “second chance”. Those two words define forgiveness.
Can we imagine what Peter must have been feeling the first time Jesus appeared to the disciples in that upper room? This is the man who vowed that he would never abandon or deny the Lord and yet all four gospels record Peter denying Jesus 3 times and then fleeing, weeping bitterly. I’m sure we can imagine him feeling guilt, sorrow, shame, embarrassment, & unworthiness.
Peter had to recognize this lesson of grace and forgiveness. He had to have deeply appreciated the Lord still offering grace and forgiveness despite his sinful actions and behavior. But this wasn’t the first time Jesus had taught this lesson.
In Matthew 18 Jesus’s disciples were arguing among themselves about who was the greatest in the kingdom. We don’t have all or even much of the details of that argument but thanks to Peter we have an idea. After Jesus initially seeks to settle this argument and teach them about humility and even how to resolve conflict, Peter reveals that sin was involved, offenses took place, and feelings hurt.
Peter asks the Lord, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” He then gives the parable of the unforgiving servant.
Over and over again Jesus taught about forgiveness to His disciples throughout His ministry. In Matthew 6 when teaching them how to pray he said “and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matt. 6:12). In Luke 7 as He is teaching about judging he says to “…forgive, and you will be forgiven…” (Luke 6:37). In Mark 11 he would say “And when you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25-26).
Simply put the reason I should forgive others is because I’ve been forgiven. The reason I should forgive others is because I’ve been called to forgive by my Father who is in heaven. Because my ultimate goal is to glorify my Father and follow in His Son’s footsteps. Forgiveness isn’t something that is suggested, “it would be good if…”, it’s commanded.
It’s easy to see that and understand that. But we all know that following through with it can be much more difficult. Sure depending upon the circumstances maybe in one situation it isn’t that hard to let it go and forgive, but other times it’s not so easy. It’s a process and can often be one that requires a great deal of prayer and thought. But take heart “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15).
David wrote for us “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. (Psa. 103:8-13)
The two words, “and Peter”, in Mark 16:7 represent the good news, the gospel unto all men. Instead of Peter’s name I can put my name there. Forgiveness and mercy have been offered to me. Am I willing to offer forgiveness and mercy to my fellow servants?