We all were once lost. Some still are. Some of us have found forgiveness and redemption… but not everyone. Some are still stuck in that vicious cycle of hatred, anger, sorrow, and self-pity. Not only is this unhealthy, but it drives us farther from God’s grace.
You see, I think we often tend to forget about how we all were forgiven. It took an act of perfect sacrifice. Yes, in order to forgive we often have to make sacrifices: pride, ego, self, etc. But our sacrifices are nothing compared to the sacrifice that afforded us forgiveness and, ultimately, redemption.
Think about it for a minute. Think about that scared young woman, many, many years ago, getting a sudden visit from an angel, telling her that she would give birth to a son that would eventually be responsible for saving the entire world… past, present, and future.
Now imagine that little boy, growing up, knowing that he’s special but his young human mind not yet grasping the full implication of what that meant.
Imagine going about your daily business, working in your father’s carpentry shop, when that realization suddenly sets in. That moment you realize your purpose, that you’re here to redeem the world, and realizing that redemption means you will have to pay a very steep price.
Imagine knowing that your fate was destined to be a torturous death, and that, as a human-born man, you had free will and could very easily choose to not go through it, but the consequence of that choice would mean that for the rest of eternity, every single person who had ever lived would be ultimately doomed to eternal punishment.
Can you imagine?
That was the choice that Christ faced. And at the end, what did he say? “Father, forgive them.” With his last ounce of strength, he pleaded for us to be forgiven. That one act would bring redemption to us all.
But, what about us?
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive up; but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses.” ~Matthew 6:14-15
So, you see, it’s not just a one-way street. Forgiveness isn’t a suggestion for us. It’s actually required of us. Sure, we can choose not to forgive. We also have free will. But to do so would mean that Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, his forgiveness, his agony, his shed blood, his death, his resurrection… his redemption… meant nothing.
“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” ~Mark 11:25
Self-explanatory, isn’t it? Sure, forgiveness isn’t easy. In fact, sometimes it can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.
But then, I imagine, so would be willingly giving yourself over to humiliation, pain, torture, and death simply for the sake of someone else.