By Phoebe Hall
“If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” If we do not love those who trespass against us, we will not be in a forgiving spirit. If we do not want their return to the right way we will not be loving them with a true love. There is a difference between bearing no ill will toward any and maintaining a forgiving spirit in our hearts, and that presumptuous spirit which would attempt to forgive others’ sins without divine directions. Oh, this is a subtle snare some have fallen into and one which we all need to guard against.
“Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Bearing all things the Master lays upon us for His service, whether it be the infirmities of the weak or the burden of the sins of others. These states we must enter into feeling with, but not at any time to attempt to forgive so as to make the individuals feel that their peace has been made with God when it has not been.
If we are willing to forgive others when they repent, then they may be more willing to forgive us. What hardness of heart must be the cause of the unwillingness of any to forgive wrongs or to hold feelings of dislike to any. If there is anything of this kind in our hearts, then we need to pray earnestly to have it removed and so abide under the power of Christ that it will not come back.
Forgiveness is granted to the penitent, not to those who willfully do wrong and then do not return, so that we need to be careful that we do not harden anyone or encourage anyone in a wrong course. God is the judge of all. Who are we to judge another when to his own Master he standeth or falleth? It is not for us to judge or condemn except as we are moved by the Spirit of Christ to do so, and then it is not we who judge but Christ within us.
Let us beware of that spirit which hastily condemns the faithful laborers in the church. There is a place for forgiveness and there is a place for labor and we each one need to stand in our places and not condemn that which we do not understand nor undervalue the righteous judgements of God.
If there is anything which is the cause of our not receiving the forgiveness of God, then that should be removed. And we should frequently examine ourselves in the light of the Lord to see if we have forgiven those who have trespassed against us. We should not hold feelings of ill will towards any, for that is dangerous.