When we discuss the Grace of God, we realize that it all begins with His saving grace. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” It was an extreme act of undeserved Grace that God made the sacrifice through which we find forgiveness of sin. As Jesus was being sinned against in the most cruel manner imaginable, He said “Father, forgive them.” Forgiveness is the key not only to a healthy relationship with God, our Father, but also in any and every human relationships. Peter understood the focus on forgiveness in Christ’s ministry but he didn’t understand the extent of it. That’s why he asked Jesus, “…how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” The he added another questions: “Should I forgive him as many as seven times?” Jesus’ answer was a bit surprising. He said, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven times” (See Matthew 18:21-22).

It’s the innocent one who suffered unbelievable abuse that teaches us about forgiveness. Many offenses and wrongs bring great pain, and forgiveness is the only way to stop the agony of an offense. The pain is taken away, and Christ, the pain bearer, bears the suffering for us. It goes to the one who understands perfectly the agony of betrayal and the anguish of rejection. As one whose sins lashed across the back of the savior drawing blood, I must always remember how much grace I have received in His forgiveness. It’s only when we appreciate the depth of our forgiveness can we truly forgive others.

In as much as God’s grace to us teaches us to forgive others, it should also teach us to forgive ourselves. I’ve counseled numerous times with people who have said “I just can’t forgive myself.” Before I comment on that, I often live as if I cannot forgive myself also. The guilt that grabs us and won’t let go is like the cancer that metastasizes in one organ and then spreads its poison to the rest of the body. Its tentacles go deep and extremely difficult to extricate. Only God’s grace can do it. Remembering that God has promised forgiveness of our sins, we must cling to God’s truth for healing. 1 John 1:9 not only promises forgiveness it also promises cleansing. As the lepers in the gospels found forgiveness and cleansing so too can we find forgiveness, healing and cleansing in the amazing Grace of God’s forgiveness. God’s grace is the “balm of Gilead” that heals a sin sick soul. If God can “cut away” the sins of our past, we must do likewise.