The Reward of Forgiveness

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Luke 6:36-38 (New International Version)

Why should I forgive? I know all the "spiritual" reasons to forgive that sometimes leave me feeling like I am holding the short end of the stick. I have been in situations in which I have thought I have every right to hold a grudge against someone who has wronged me. My longing for justice has prevented my heart from fully embracing forgiveness towards someone who has hurt me deeply. I have become distressed thinking that person's behavior may go unpunished. That just does not sit well with me.

I have just recently realized that my forgiving someone benefits me the most. I can so quickly get up on my pedestal of pride when I look at others as needing to be forgiven more than I do. It is so easy for me to become disappointed in people who are just like me. I hold others to a standard that I cannot possibly keep myself. It is the ultimate arrogant notion on my part to think their need for forgiveness is greater than mine. Maybe they are the ones caught with mud on their faces at the moment, but it is only a matter of time until that same mud lands on me.

The moments of my life that have taught me the most have been the ones in which I have experienced grace and forgiveness even when I don't deserve either of them. The moments I want to forget are when my nose has been rubbed in the shame I already feel over my sin, when grace is hidden and withheld by someone who has the choice to give it and doesn't.

When I extend grace to someone, Jesus reassures me that same grace will be given to me by someone else. The reason that He said, "Forgive, and you will be forgiven," is because He knew that I would also need to be forgiven many times by others. I have found that He either lets me humble myself willingly or, in His discipline, He will allow a humiliating situation to occur to help me realize my need for grace from someone else. When, not if, it comes my turn to receive grace and forgiveness, I want the measure given to me to be huge.

I am coming to see that forgiving someone else has nothing to do with them and everything to do with me. My obedience to forgive as Jesus has commanded me to has nothing to do with their attitude towards me. That person doesn't ever need to see the situation my way or even be truly sorry for what has happened between us. What makes me free from the bondage of the hurt caused me is my obedience to Christ. And my God, who keeps all accounts, will be faithful to reward me for doing what He has asked me to do. His opinion is truly the only one that matters. And when I turn my mud-streaked face towards someone whom I have wronged, I pray that the measure in which he or she sees the mud is dwarfed by the grace I have won through forgiving someone else.

Jesus, I can never forgive anyone as much as You have forgiven me. May I not believe the lie that I am ever justified in withholding forgiveness from someone else. May You say over me what You said over the woman who spilled her costly perfume over Your feet, 

"...her many sins have been forgiven-for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." Luke 7:47 (NIV)

My forgiveness of others is how I best show You how much I love You.