James A. Washington

Jesus time and again 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.

The whole point of Christ’s crucifixion was to forgive us our sins, thereby freeing us from the prospect of trying to earn our way into God’s good graces. Christ took care of that for us indeed.

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished upon us with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:7-8.

This identifies forgiveness as the focal point for the Christian experience and deserves our serious attention.

Even though Christ fulfilled His purpose on the cross, our obligation to forgive became critical as we assume the position of being saved. We too are now part of the forgiveness experience, if you catch my meaning. “…Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

We must exhibit mercy and forgiveness in our own lives if we are to enjoy the blessing of mercy and forgiveness so graciously given to us. “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the lord forgave you” Colossians 3:13.

This is not “turn the other cheek” stuff. This is “let it go, forgive and forget” stuff – and it’s hard. We are not built not to hold grudges, not to seek revenge, not to want to get even or not to wish harm on those who have done harm to us. It is so much easier to play the “eye for an eye” game.

When you understand your own unwillingness to forgive, or your own “just don’t want to” attitude, it is easy to hear Christ say, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” John 8:7. Some of us even have the nerve to walk around with rocks in our hearts as well as our hands.

It is the honest Christian who recognizes that the world is more easily navigated with a “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” frame of mind. I’d rather be done by people who will do me correctly. Do me in the name of the lord, and I’ll do you likewise.

Somewhere that “love your neighbor as yourself” thing is messing with somebody who is reading this right now. As human beings we tend to complicate the simplest of God’s edicts. So allow me to put my point to you this way. The road to heaven is readily navigated by the ones who let the stones go. The road to hell is navigated by the ones who throw them.

Which one are you?

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