March 26
Choose to Forgive 
Proverbs 17
"He who covers over an offense promotes love ..." (v. 9)

Jesus gives us stern and uncompromising warnings about forgiveness. But if forgiveness is so important and yet so difficult, how do we go about it? We must do several things. First, we must not try to minimize or dismiss the offense as if it never happened. If it hurts, then we must face it and feel it. A common misconception that keeps people from forgiving is that they think in order to forgive they must come to the place where they look upon the things done to them as being really not that bad. That is excusing, not forgiving. C. S. Lewis says: "Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it. That, and only that, is forgiveness." Second, we must see that forgiveness is not an emotional thing (though it can affect the emotions), but a matter of the will. It is making the decision that the wrong done against you will not count or cause a separation. In making that decision, remember you have all the resources of God available to you. This applies not just to minor matters like snubs, but major matters like divorce. The task of forgiving must be more than a match for the magnitude of the pain involved. Our text today makes clear that a choice is involved. No matter how we are wronged, we can choose out of a desire for love to forgive.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, You looked into the eyes of those who hammered You to a cross and cried: "Father, forgive them." Help me do the same when I am confronted with lesser injury or hurt. For Your own dear Name's sake. Amen.
For Further Study
1. What does God delight to do?
2. What are we to love?