you MUST forgive

It is a fact of life that someone will do wrong to you. It is often unfair, sometimes vicious, and every time hurtful. You will be offended in life, almost on a daily basis. People at work or school, your own family, will sin against you. There’s no escaping it. You can expect it to happen – how will you respond?

Jesus said to forgive your brother when he sins against you. In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asked, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” He said further in Luke 17:4, “If your brother sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” This is not an option or suggestion or good idea, but a command: you MUST forgive him.

But that’s hard, and I don’t want to. I can’t. The anger and hate well up inside me like a volcano. I want to rip his head off, throw him under the bus, kick him to the curb. In my sinful nature, forgiveness is foreign to me. Only a soft heart, only a born again heart, only a heart like God’s, only a heart of faith can forgive seven times, even just once. The disciples cried, “Increase our faith!” (It’s going to take a lot of faith to forgive that jerk.) Jesus knew it was hard to forgive, but you don’t need overflowing, abundant faith to do it. A mustard seed grain of faith is all you need, and that’s very small. Only the smallest bit of faith is needed. If you are in Christ, that’s how much faith you have. You can do it. All you need is a little faith to forgive and move on. If you believe the gospel, the good news, in God’s grace and power, His mercy, His forgiveness of you, “He entered Palm Sunday, He hung from the cross, shed His blood, and died for your sin on Good Friday, He arose on Easter Sunday,” then you’ll forgive your brother.

The impossibility of “I can’t forgive” becomes possible. All things are possible with God, with a grain of mustard seed faith. It is not faith in self or your own strength but God’s greatness, power, and consistency. Have faith in Him, believing in Him, His promises, His covenant, His presence, His glory, and not yourself. Faith in God, not your own self-made mustered up faith, leads to victory, peace, calm, hope, healing, glory, and forgiveness. It is faith to see the sinning brother as a brother, a fellow child of God, whereby God died for Him as much as me – you must forgive, and you need faith, even small faith of a mustard seed.

Who has wronged you? You can forgive him as Jesus forgives. Look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. He is the perfect example of forgiveness. On the cross, He cried, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they do.” Does your forgiveness look like your Savior’s? Jesus has forgiven you your sin today and is risen from the dead, death is defeated. You must be born again, acknowledge and accept His death on the cross in your place, receive His forgiveness. Then, you can forgive your brother, as Jesus forgives you. Just a small amount of faith will do.