“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” Luke 15:25-32

In reading the parable of the Prodigal Son, we find forgiveness in ample supply given by the father. The younger son piles one insult upon another as he burns through his inheritance. His return home is met with love and forgiveness from the father. The oldest son behaves selfishly and with anger, and his behaviour is met with love and forgiveness from the father. While not actually saying, “I forgive your horrible behavior,” the father shows his love to his sons in an amazingly tangible way. The two brothers don’t deserve the love and forgiveness given by their father. Neither do we.

Despite some messages out there about how we may deserve the love and forgiveness of God, the bottom line is we don’t. There’s nothing we’ve done or can do to deserve it. It’s a wholly free gift from God, which makes the depths of his love, demonstrated through the giving of Jesus for us when we were unwilling, all the more humbling (Romans 5:8).

With this in mind, how can we not forgive others? We’ve been forgiven by God, as demonstrated by his love, and still desire in our hearts to ‘hold out on’ forgiving others? May it never be so! It’s true, there are times in life when forgiveness will be difficult to give to those who have done very damaging, injurious things to us. Jesus, having already been pinned with spikes to the cross and lifted up with the ultimate goal being his death, forgave those responsible (Luke 23:33-34a). Surely we can follow his example and forgive those who meant us harm.

As you finish reading this today, place yourself in a posture of prayer. In silence, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you those in need of your forgiveness, remembering the forgiveness you’ve been given. When images or names come to mind, forgive them before the Lord. Perhaps praying through the prayer below will help you.

hear my prayer.
Just as you have forgiven me,
I am compelled to forgive others.
There are those in my life whom,
purposely, I have not forgiven.
give me the strength to forgive them.
There are those in my life whom,
unknowingly, I have not forgiven.
reveal them to me that I may forgive them.
help me to always be quick to forgive.
thank you for your forgiveness to me.

By Rich Obrecht

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