A few days ago I was sitting on the train when a young woman started arguing on her phone. Being forced into hearing one side of the conversation the only thing I could tell for sure was that whomever was on the other end was asking for forgiveness, and it was most likely a sibling from the “mom” references made. But based on her responses like “why should I?” and “you’ve said sorry before” it was definitely a struggle for her to be merciful. As the train entered the station she said something that struck me, “I want to but, how many times do we have to go through this?” As I walked past her moving towards the train door I muttered “seventy times seven”. Fully knowing she probably was so focused on her conversation she hadn’t heard me, and even if she had the odds on her knowing the meaning was even slimmer. But as I walked onto my next train I started to thinkI about forgiveness. Not so much about forgiving others, but asking for forgiveness. The truth is they are both intertwined in that to be forgiven by God you have to forgive others first. Which, lets be real, isn’t always the easiest thing to do. But it’s still the only way.
If it was as simple as just saying the words “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you” then the act would be meaningless. At times, unfortunately, it is just meaningless words. But to truly work the words have to come from your heart. There have been times in my life where I was faced with the having to forgive. And sometimes they didn’t ask or want my forgiveness, but I gave it non the less. It wasn’t easy, and it absolutely wasn’t right away, but after awhile I realized holding onto that anger was only hurting me. But like I said, that day (and today) I was thinking about the person asking for forgiveness.
Just the act of asking for forgiveness can be a humbling task. Put yourself there for a moment. Being truly sorry for something, not sorry you got caught, not sorry of the ramifications, but truly sorry for something you did or said. To have to courage to ask for forgiveness knowing that you may not get it. Maybe they won’t believe you, or maybe you don’t feel like you deserve it….that’s a real tough point there…it’s real easy to not feel like you deserve forgiveness. Here’s where lessons learned from Jesus show exactly how awesome our faith is. Throughout the New Testament Jesus shows us how love is the greatest gift we can give or receive. And let’s face it the only way giving or receiving mercy can genuinely happen is if it’s driven by love. Whether it’s the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) or the ultimate example as Jesus was hanging on the cross asking His Father to forgive (Luke 23:34), we see that it’s never too late, and the sin is never to great to ask for forgiveness if you truly want to be forgiven. So if anyone ever feels that they are too far gone, or not good enough to be forgiven, remember this from Luke 15:7….