Forgiveness from this Life
What a story – a celebration of the return of a sinner. Not a condemnation of the poor choices made, instead a “welcome home, all is forgiven”. This isn’t some Hollywood script; it is a story from the Book of Luke. The parable of the lost son in Luke 15:11-32 is a familiar story from the Bible, and one we sometimes see play out around us. A child who makes poor choices, turns against the good advice of a parent, and eventually returns…but earthly parents don’t always forgive and forget, or welcome back the wayward child. As parents we might scorn and scold, or worse, withhold love and not even consider forgiveness as an option. In the story of the prodigal son, the father is a picture of the Heavenly Father; God waiting patiently, with loving compassion to restore us when we return to Him with humble hearts. He offers us everything in His kingdom, restoring our full relationship with joyful celebration, and with complete forgiveness. He doesn’t even dwell on our past mistakes and sinful ways–he is there to welcome, forgive, and offer grace. Forgiveness is not earned or deserved. It isn’t an entitlement – it is a gift. God is seeking sinners and is ready to forgive if they return, to offer unconditional love. The greatest gift we will ever receive is one we don’t deserve, certainly not one we will ever earn. Forgiveness is that greatest gift and our Heavenly Father is waiting to grant that gift – the amazing gift of grace.
Forgiveness in this Life
Jesus taught us to pray these words: Forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. We seek out God’s free gift of forgiveness. We recognize our faults and imperfections and cry out for Him to forgive and forget those things. And because God is just and loving, he willingly grants us the forgiveness that we crave and need. But in this life we are confronted with having to grant forgiveness to others around us who have hurt and wronged us. We willingly accept God’s forgiveness, but we don’t always give forgiveness to others. We tend to let the concepts of human “fairness” and “justice” trump love, compassion, and mercy. We want to define what is fair. We want to be the judge of what justice someone deserves. Jesus tells the story in Matthew about the vineyard workers that all got the same pay for a day’s work even though some were hired early in the morning while others were hired with only one hour remaining in the work day. The workers who had worked the most hours protested to the owner that he had been unfair to them by paying everyone the same amount. The landowner responded to the protests by saying, Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? God is generous with his forgiveness. He expects us to emulate that attitude. Let us not forget that God is the ultimate judge. He has deemed us all worthy of forgiveness. We should use God’s definition of fairness and justice in deciding who and when to forgive.