A well-respected elderly gentleman who was approaching death confided to a friend, that he could not comprehend how God could forgive him for the things he did as a bomber pilot during WWII. When one reflects on the history of that war, the man could have played a role in killing thousands of civilians. The lives of these elderly, women, and children ended with their hopes, dreams, ambitions, and the potential to carry on their family linage gone.
In the afterlife, a natural reaction would be that the will of the many thousands of victims, would chase down that pilot and give him an eternal beating. Within such an afterlife, would the will of the many give the appearance of being a place similar to Heaven or Hell?
In contrast to retaliation, Matthew 18: 21-35 can be summarized:
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered with a parable of a master forgiving a servant’s debt when the servant made such a request. However, that servant then failed to forgive the debt of a fellow servant. When the master heard of this, he withdrew his forgiveness and the original servant was turned over to the jailer to be tortured.
Jesus ended stating: 35“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
What if one hasn't been able to forgive? An example might be, the buildup of frustration after a family member does not return love or acceptance. How about that lack of acceptance or respect from a boss, supervisor, government official, parent, or other authority figure? Might these individuals have their own shortcomings and such expectations are beyond the capacity of those individuals?
Struggling with a severe heartache such as a spouse's unfaithfulness, the murder of a family member, one's childhood rapist, or anger at God? Consider one's self as a branch, Christ is the vine, and God desires one's life to bear much fruit. John 15:1-17. Does fulfilling this mission in life require forgiveness to again focus on what God desires?
Consider bringing the struggle to forgive to God in prayer and request his will. Ask for your heart to become open to recognizing and accepting help when an opportunity arrives.
This chapter began with a portrayal of that WWII bomber pilot being met with animosity as the will of the many got some pay-back on the streets of hell.
Consider what might occur in heaven where the will of the One prevails (Matthew 6:10). Imagine thousands of victims standing in a line as the bomber pilot greets each individual, one at a time. As their eyes meet, the pilot offers a sincere apology with each victim extending forgiveness.
Because of God’s mandate for us to forgive; in heaven, we may find it very humbling when this undeserved degree of love is extended to us.
In the Lord's prayer, we are taught to pray; "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Matthew 6:9-13. On earth, we are instructed to pray that God's grace might touch others. Next time we see a person with a troubled heart walking across the grocery store parking lot, pray that "God's will be done." Here, we are given a choice to seek His will. However, God can create special moments to soften our hearts allowing us the opportunity to accept his grace. Our society is in need of such prayers.
Next Chapter: Facing Ourself
Chapter 1: Facing God
Chapter 2: The Bible and God's Plan
Chapter 3: What is Prayer?
Chapter 4: How to Receive Grace
Chapter 5: Forgiving Others (current page)
Chapter 6: Facing Ourself
Chapter 7: How to Pray
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