I read about a story of a seminary professor who’s fond of introducing his class on the New Testament with a story from his own life. As a young man he told a lie to his father and hurt him deeply. For years the matter went unresolved, but the guilt and remorse kept gnawing away at him until, finally, he wrote his father a letter.
As the oldest son, he went to their house and was going through their things. Up in the attic he found a box containing little treasures his parents had kept through the years from their marriage and from his childhood. As he looked through the box, his eyes welled up with tears because he felt so close to his parents and the things that had been most important to them.
Then he found the letter that he had written, asking for forgiveness. He opened it and began to read, and with tears running down his cheeks, he turned it over. And there, in his father’s handwriting, was one word: “Forgiven!” And it was underlined.
In a split second he realized that his father had really let go of the issue that had rolled up between them. He had written “forgiven” on the letter, then put it aside in the box of treasures because it was over. There was no unfinished business.
It was an enormous knack for that son to ascertain that his father had bowed out all traces of the hurt and the resentment and the bitterness! What a free and better life to live.
It is an implausible gift when we are able to forgive and let go – to forgive and forget. This is exactly the way in which God, our Heavenly Father, deals with us. When we are forgiven by God, it is as if we had never done that which caused our alienation from Him.
If we are to evaluate ourselves, where are we in regard to forgiveness? Do we need to forgive another, or are we in need of forgiveness ourselves? God will help in both conditions. And good news . . . 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Our God is a God of forgiveness! Indeed, God forgives!
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 But if you do not forgive others their sins,
your Father will not forgive your sins.