Thought for the Month (April 2010)

As I write, Spring is in the air and Easter is nearly upon us. The question we have to ask each year is, are we ready to celebrate it? Has our time of preparation in Lent been used well?

I have been more aware this year of people giving up things for Lent, chocolate, meat, alcohol or television and it is a good discipline to give up things. It teaches us where our dependence truly lies, and that we are capable of living without these things.

Well as we move from Lent to Holy Week I have another proposal to help us prepare for Easter: try forgiveness. It is good from time to time to reflect on things that might be holding back our relationship with Jesus and those doing the Freedom in Christ course will have an opportunity to do just that.

One of these areas of reflection is forgiveness. Is there anyone against whom I hold a grudge or have a desire for revenge? Is there someone who I believe has treated me wrongly and I have not forgiven?

This person may be a friend or enemy, a colleague or acquaintance, it may be someone you hardly know or someone you know intimately, it could be someone who has been long dead or you meet each day, maybe it is another church member. Friends and family often hurt us most.

Sometimes our resentment is towards God. Maybe we have put our hope in Him and we believe He has let us down. 'Why me' the cry sometimes goes up when something bad happens in our lives and the result can be a deep resentment against God.

Sometimes the problem is forgiving ourselves. We may have done something bad in our lives or simply failed to notice something that has had bad consequences, and we cannot forgive ourselves.

Forgiveness is a big issue because the lack of it stunts our lives and damages our relationships, and means we cannot celebrate Easter to the full. The important thing to remember is that our forgiveness of others (including forgiving God and ourselves) is our responsibility. No-one else can do it for us, not a minister nor an elder, only us. We have to make the decision to forgive. Jesus requires that of us.

And it is not a matter of whether the person deserves to be forgiven. After all we do not deserve to be forgiven, but when we commit our lives to Jesus He forgives us completely. That is what Good Friday gives us.

It is not a matter of suppressing or forgetting the hurt, as we have to face the truth about it before we can forgive.

We are called to forgive because it is best for us and it enables us to live life to the full. The process of forgiveness can be painful when the hurts are deep, but we have the promise of His presence and empowering and the confidence that He only asks us to do things that we can achieve.

Jesus sets us the example, when on the Cross, He said of those who had put Him there, 'Father forgive them for they know not what they do.'(Luke 23v24) He also gives us a clear instruction when He says, 'Forgive those who sin against you.' (Matthew 6v14)

From personal experience we can testify to the fact that forgiving from the heart sets us free. We pray that you may all experience that freedom this Easter as we celebrate the risen Lord together.

May our Lord bless you all

With Love, Bob and Karen

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church