Jesus had a lot to say about forgiveness; therefore, whatever he addressed especially with those he called his disciples, we disciples living today need to understand and practice. Examples are found in Matthew 5 and 18 and John 8.
Our forgiveness can be a mere flippant response: when someone comes and ask for our forgiveness and we say “Oh, forget it. What you said (or did) was no big deal!”
This person has come to receive our forgiveness not our forgetfulness.
Our flippant response can also mean that what this person did or said does not really matter because you do not feel that close to this person, that maintaining a close relationship does not really matter to you and, besides, you were not paying that much attention to what he did or said anyway.
Closely akin to insecure forgiveness is conditional forgiveness: “I will forgive, but you have to promise never to do that again.”
Those people who come sincerely asking for our forgiveness deserve something better than a flippant or conditional response.
They deserve a sincere, unconditional, heart-felt response, such as, “As far as I am concerned, you are forgiven,” and then giving this person an affirming bear hug to show we really mean what we say.
Only God is capable of forgiving and forgetting, but the way we can forget is to not bring up the subject again.
Forgiveness from the heart is the essential ingredient that makes Christianity more than something about which we talk, read, study and debate. As we strive to practice what Jesus taught and did we are fulfilling the new commandment Jesus gave his disciples: “You shall love (forgive) your neighbor even as I have loved (forgiven) you.”
God knew how difficult it would be for us to forgive from the heart; hence, God provides us with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, who is available to all of us just for the asking.
THE REV. GENE NORRIS IS A LOCAL PRESBYTERIAN PASTOR.