Harboring a grudge or withholding forgiveness from someone who has sought it with penitence is totally unlike the Master whom we have been called to follow. While suffering on the cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk. 23:34). In this example, we see the compassionate and forgiving attitude of our Savior in the midst of cruel and unrelenting hatred.

Peter came to Jesus one day asking, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus responded and said, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Mt. 18:21-22). Jesus taught that we must be always ready to extend forgiveness to others. As if to underscore the importance of this command, Jesus adds: “if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Mt. 6:15).

Most of us are familiar with these rather basic concepts of forgiveness. But, sometimes we need to be reminded of the manner in which such forgiveness must be practiced. Paul says, “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). In other words, our forgiveness must emulate that which is extended by our Lord. In another place, Paul writes, “And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity (Col. 3:12-14). Ours is the responsibility to forgive others. Let us practice such in the spirit of Christ.

— Glen Elliott —