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December 2013

Forgiving Others

By Beverley Carter

Nelson Mandela's passing has much of the world talking about "forgiveness." People are praising Mandela because, after his release from 27 years of imprisonment, he forgave those who had placed him there. He then proceeded to lead his people in South Africa to freedom from apartheid through nonviolence.
It has been reported that while not a Christian himself, Mandela greatly admired Gandhi who pursued a policy of nonviolent civil disobedience to gain independence for India from Great Britain. Gandhi, also not a Christian, is said to have admired the teachings of Christ on forgiveness and nonviolence.
Mandela also appreciated the American clergyman, Martin Luther King, Jr., who is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights in America without the use of violence.
The bottom line is that these three famous leaders were all influenced by the teachings of Jesus. If the whole world followed the teachings of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, what a different and better world this would be.
While we can't force others to be forgiving and peace-abiding people, we Christians need to be true followers of Christ. Let’s look at some Bible texts:
Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." – Matthew 18:21-22
Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. – Colossians 3:13
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. – Matthew 6:14-15
"The duty of forgiving: We must from our hearts forgive. Note, we do not forgive our offending brother aright, nor acceptably, if we do not forgive from the heart; for that is it that God looks at. No malice must be harbored there, nor ill will to any person, one or another; no projects of revenge must be hatched there, nor desires of it, as there are in many who outwardly appear peaceable and reconciled. Yet this is not enough; we must from the heart desire and seek the welfare even of those that have offended us." – Matthew Henry's Commentary
Remember Hebrews 10:30, "For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,” says the Lord." And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”
God's laws are not always easy to follow, as our carnal natures often want revenge. It is only as we receive forgiveness for our sins that we can truly forgive others. Once we have experienced the generosity of God's love, then we in turn can be generous with our love towards those who have sinned against us.
May His grace and love be with us all.


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