“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:15) Forgiveness is one of the main ways we love our neighbors as ourselves. The Lord makes it clear that for our sins to be forgiven, we must forgive others.
What is forgiveness? In Leviticus we read, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt surely rebuke thy neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am Jehovah.” (19:17-18)
We are not to hold a grudge, or nurse our anger against someone. Instead we should love him, bless him, do good to him and pray for him. (Matt. 5:44-45) But we are also surely to rebuke our neighbor – tell him, rather than hold it in and “bear sin because of him.” Jesus said, “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” And if that fails, the Lord lays out two further ways to plead with our brother. (Matt. 18:15-17)
For example, it is not loving, but cowardly or poor judgment, for parents not to speak with a child who is getting into bad habits, and if necessary, take away privileges. It is a kindness as well as a duty of the parents to do so, to save the child from worse consequences later. A surgeon has to cut someone in order to help him heal. In our hearts and intentions, we must always keep goodwill, but our actions must sometimes appear severe, in order to love wisely.
Only God can truly forgive sins, that is, deliver us from various evil and hurtful ways of life. Only He can set us free, and He can do this only as we, on our part, practice repentance.
If we recognize some of our own sins, there will be less room in our hearts for contempt for others, since we know that we too have said and done things that are harmful and selfish. Instead the Lord will give us compassion for them instead of anger and fear. He will enable us to pray sincerely, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” (Matt. 6:12-13)
You are always welcome at the Kempton New Church. Worship services are at 10:00 a.m. You are also welcome to stop by the “Autumn Weekends” stand on Hawk Mountain Road the first four October Saturdays & Sundays, 10:00 a.m. till 6:00 p.m., for a cup of soup or cider, a pork barbecue sandwich, homemade pie or other good things.