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If You Don't Forgive

If You Don't Forgive

24 December 2010

Today’s Reading: John 19-21

Scripture:


22 Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. 23 “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?” (John 20:22-23 MSG)

On the cross, while in the most intense agony of soul and body, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing!” After his resurrection, he breathed the Holy Spirit on his followers and said, “I empower you to forgive people’s sins, their sins against God and their sins against you. When you forgive sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”

I was in Rwanda in 1997, less than three years after the genocide. The Christians in Rwanda were already discovering that you’ve got to forgive others’ sins or the unforgiveness will destroy you. They established local courts in villages across the tiny country called “gacaca courts” (gacaca means something close to “grassroots”) where those accused of atrocities in the genocide must face their accusers. In the gacaca court, if the evidence of crime is conclusive, the criminal is given the choice of confession or punishment. If they confess, they’re forgiven and set free. This is so close to the Kingdom of God way, I’m still trying to get my head around it!

If you don’t forgive sins, then what are you going to do with them? What a profound question! If I don’t forgive people’s sins against me, what am I going to do with them?

Jesus has given me his Holy Spirit. He has breathed on me and has filled me with the Spirit-life of God himself. I have access to the most powerful force in the universe, the power to forgive. If I don’t forgive people’s sins, then what am I going to do with them?

Prayer:

Father, Thank you for the love that spoke the words, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” Thank you for the grace of total forgiveness. I pray for the grace and faith to forgive people’s sins. Please keep me free from unforgiveness and bitterness and the soul-cancer unforgiveness causes. Amen.

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