The changes occurring here on Winding Ridge remind me that weather proves unforgiving. The ferns’ brilliant green gives way to yellow before turning brown and dying. As I meditate on yesterday’s sermon, drawn from Matthew 6, I find myself comparing the effects of my ferns with the demise of relationships when I withhold forgiveness.
At the end of what we commonly refer to as he Lord’s Prayer, God adds a sort of P.S., again bringing up the topic of forgiveness. Within the prayer, at verse 12, we pray, “and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Yet, in verses 14 and 15, the addendum comes as the Lord resurrects the forgiveness topic again. “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
When people knowingly withhold forgiveness, such grievous pain results. As I harbor my hurt soul, anger develops, often morphing into slander and condescension. Yet I daily seek the Lord for His forgiveness of my sins, grateful for his mercy and grace that he lavishes on me. Why withhold from another the cleansing power that revitalizes? Pride, stubbornness and fear come to mind, and I dare not dismiss such character flaws. God’s about the business of sanctification, conforming me into the likeness of Christ. This week must involve a fresh look at my life.
But what about cases where I need to forgive but am ignorant of the offense? Let me return to the fern illustration. When Dave and I returned from a trip this summer, we discovered a clump of fern fringed with some green but dead brown at its center. A mystery to us as to the cause, the damage testified to devastation at the center despite some green feigning life. In our human relationships the subtle distancing, the awkwardness of now infrequent conversations, the busyness that separates us may indicate the need to ask if something between us needs reconciliation. I must let go of my self-justifying because God has forgiven me everything and He calls me to live as His disciple. I have some soul searching to do this week, but Jesus has promised to walk with me through it.