The Upside Down Kingdom Part 5
The Leprosy Mission produces an internal daily devotional guide, The Bridge, for use in offices, hospitals, clinics and projects around the world. Current and former staff and trustees from many countries contribute to the guide. We will share with you contributions made by one of our team.
Norman Lazonby, a member of our board, has written this series of thoughts on the Beatitudes.
In the Lord’s Prayer, we ask for God’s forgiveness of our sins. But God’s forgiveness is said to be conditional on our forgiving others of their sins against us.
A definition of mercy is “compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm”.
God certainly has the power to punish us as our sins deserve. And, if we are honest with ourselves, we recognise that and throw ourselves on God’s mercy to seek His forgiveness.
But is our attitude to others the same when we are in a position of power over them? How good are we at forgiving someone when they have done or said something that hurts us? Why do we find it so difficult to offer forgiveness to others when we believe they are in the wrong?
When we look at all the broken relationships in our world, we realise that forgiveness or mercy of others is often in short supply. We too easily take offence and hold onto grudges against members of our family or those we previously regarded as friends.
Forgiveness is the first step in restoring relationships. Forgiveness isn’t a once and for ever solution. Jesus tells us that we need to forgive someone who sins against us seventy-seven times! (Matt 18:22)
But, showing forgiveness isn’t easy. The Pharisees and leaders of the religious law at the time of Jesus struggled to show mercy or forgiveness. They did not like it when Jesus showed mercy to sinners. And Jesus criticised them for tithing even the tiniest herbs but ignoring the more important aspects of the law: justice, mercy and faith (Matt 23:23).
Forgiveness is the key to our relationship with God. We will be blessed by God’s mercy if we are merciful to others.
Prayer: Loving and merciful God, you know our hearts and lives. We confess to you that which causes separation, that which causes pain or distress and that which breaks down. We ask for your help to do better, to reconcile, to heal, to soothe and to build up. So that we may love you and our neighbours, and follow our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray.
Question: Why do we find it so difficult to confess or apologise to others when we know that we are in the wrong?