“So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24.
The most difficult word in the Bible is FORGIVE. If we are to be very sincere with ourselves, we would realise that forgiveness (reconciliation with people who have something against us) is easier said than done.
Even though we pray the Lord’s Prayer every day, only one line rings a bell in us: “Give us this day our daily bread.” We never pause to meditate on the line that says: “as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We so gloss over this line that we do not even though it is part of the “Our Father.”
Mind you, we do not pray: “as we plan to forgive…” or “as we hope to forgive…”. What we pray is “as we forgive…” This means each time we pray with unforgiveness, hatred or bitterness still in our hearts, we are lying to God. We are claiming to have done something when we haven’t done it.
No wonder Jesus teaches in Matthew 5:23 that we should not even come to God to offer our gifts if our hearts are not completely clean from hate. Reconciliation for Jesus is more important than offertory. I may be the highest donor in church, the best singer or the best preacher but if there are still people I am quarrelling with, my worship of God is corrupt.
Now comes the big question: “How do I forgive?” The book of Ezekiel 18:21-25 contains a clue. The prophet tells us how God behaves. God does not relate with us according to our past! God does not keep records of our past whether be good or bad. God is a God of this moment. God is able to forgive us because he constantly dies to the past.
In other words, if we are to forgive, we must develop the habit of dying every moment to our past. This is not easy but with a little practice, it is possible. The past looks more real than even the present, everything we know about our whole life is contained in the past, it always looks like we can never let go of the past but the truth is that the past does not exist. Or better put, its existence is based on our decision to dwell in it; the past is only real in our minds, it has no life on its own.
Has the past being painful? Then why are you still holding on to it? Is there something you enjoy by holding on to an event that is painful? This is the insanity of humankind. Yes, it is madness to cling so tightly to something that is so painful yet because that is what everybody does, we take it as normal. When we see someone who has been able to forgive (let go completely), we look at that person as insane but we are the ones mad.
By not letting go of the past, we make the mistake of allowing the past steal from both our present and future. Just yesterday I read the story trending on social media about the new President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, how he was on the verge of taking over directly from Nelson Mandela as his preferred successor only to be edged out of politics fifteen years ago. He did not allow this affect his morale; he went into business, today he is not only successful in business, he is even wiser and stronger for the office of President. The author of this write-up quoting Steve Covey added: “Have a mentality of abundance; pursue other dreams if the current one seems unattainable.”
Die to the Past every minute, forgive to make your heart cleaner and shining so that there is room for God to still enter and speak to you, let go; we brought nothing to this world, we shall leave with nothing. If I refuse to let go now, my death will force me to let go so why wait till then? Let go and Let God take care of things.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to forgive so that I may stop telling lies each time I pray the prayer you taught us to pray. I also thank you for my Archbishop, Augustine Akubeze who has just been elected President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria. Endow him with the wisdom, courage and grace to lead the entire catholic faithful in Nigeria to the right direction. Amen.
*Be happy, live positive, it is well with you. Friday of the First Week of Lent. Bible Study: Ezekiel 18:21-28 and Matthew 5:20-26.*