James A. Washington

One of the key tenets of our faith as prescribed in the New Testament is forgiveness. Time and again Jesus reminds His disciples that although the laws of His Father are crystal clear, God is always receptive to a repentant heart. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation…” 2 Corinthians 7:10.

Some have called Him the God of another chance, as opposed to a God of a second chance. Myself, I blew through the second-chance warning sign ages ago. Without another but yet another chance and still another chance, the opportunity to gain entrance into the kingdom would be chalked up in the lost cause category.

The whole point of Christ’s crucifixion was to forgive us our sins, thereby freeing us from the impossible prospect of “earning” our way into heaven. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:7.

No matter how hard we try, there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn the favor of God. It comes with who He is and not who we try to be. Just deal with it.

Forgiveness is a focal point of the Christian experience and deserves our study and internalization. Even though Jesus died for us, His purpose, besides fulfilling the promise of the Old Testament, was to bring mercy into a new realm. It seems that we too have an obligation (however difficult) to hold sacred this thing called forgiveness.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” From Jesus’ mouth to your ears.

We must exhibit mercy and forgiveness in our own lives, if we are going to at least try to accept the challenge of living a Christian life. “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13.

That “turn the other cheek” stuff really is hard to do. We are not built to hold grudges but we do. Not supposed to seek revenge, but we do. And we’re not supposed to get even when slighted and our ego gets tested, but we do. Isn’t it so much easier to just operate under the edict of an eye for an eye?

Yes, it is, but then Jesus comes up with the ever-present “He who is without sin (go ahead) cast the first stone” (John 8:7). We walk around with rocks in our hands as well as our hearts. It is a hard lesson learned by true believers that the world is more easily navigated when we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

Trust me. I want to be done by people who will do me correctly. Do me in the name of God. Do me in the name of how you want to be done.

“Of all the commandments which is the most important? The most important one answered Jesus is this; ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this; Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31.

Human beings tend to complicate things and here is another example of the simplicity of salvation. The road to heaven is still navigated by the one who will let go and drop that stone in his or her hand. The road to hell is navigated by the one who throws it.

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