The great preacher of the 19th century, Joseph Parker, was debating one day with enemies of the Christian faith. An infidel shouted, "What did Christ do for Stephen when he was stoned?" Parker answered, "He gave him grace to pray for those who stoned him."
The word forgiveness in Greek means "breathe out, exhale" (remove it from your system). When Peter asked Christ how often he should forgive an offending brother, He disagreed with the seven times, and stated seventy times seven (i.e. forgiveness should be unlimited) (Matthew 18:21, 22). Further, Scripture indicates forgiveness should not be grudging or reluctant, but with kindness (Genesis 45:5 – 11; Romans 12:19, 20), forbearance (Colossians 3:13), and with blessing and prayer for the offending person (Matthew 5:44). Soren Kierkegaard stated, "The only true forgiveness is that which is offered and extended, even before the offender has apologized and sought it."
In Mark 11:25 and 26, Jesus warned, "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses."
A brother and sister, Billy and Mary, were quarreling, and their father was grieved by their dispute. Mary was very unhappy. So, in tears, she went to her father and said, "Daddy, I am truly sorry. I can see I have made you sad. But while her father's arms went around her, she stuck out her tongue at Billy. The father wanted to forgive her, but he could not, if she would not forgive her brother. Her father wisely instructed, "You've got to make it up with Billy first. For if you shut him out, you keep me out, for I love Billy as well as you."
Remember, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" were some of the last words Jesus spoke on earth.
Dave Arnold, Pastor
Gulf Coast Worship Center
New Port Richey , Florida 34654