I like the story of the prodigal son because it teaches us many lessons regarding forgiveness. In the first case, we note that despite the deep offense caused by his son, the father of the prodigal son was quick to forgive his youngest son when he repented. Yet the wrongdoing was truly terrible. Indeed, the prodigal son got up one morning and decided to live his best life and for that he needed money. So he asked his father to give him the share of his patrimony. However, as we all know, a legacy is supposed to be received when the parent dies but not before. Yet, his father, still living, gave him his heritage without even questioning him. Finally, he decided to leave home and spend all the money on debauchery.
Nevertheless, when he came back and apologized to his father, the forgiveness in the heart of his Dad had already taken place. Instead of rejection, his father welcomed him warmly with open arms.
Because he previously forgave his son despite his misbehavior, as soon as he saw him, he had a heart full of compassion.
“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” Luke 15:20 NKJV
In spite of being the one who betrayed him and left him with the heritage, every action of the Father expressed his deep love for his younger son.
- Had compassion verse 20
- Fell on his neck verse 20
- Kiss him verse 20
- Bring out the best robe and put it on him verse 22
- Put a ring on his hands’ verse 22
- Sandals on his feet verse 22
- Bring the fattened calf and kill it, and lets have a feast and celebrate verse 23
He did not judge his son, but only forgave at first, with the hope that he would come back.
However, the eldest son had not forgiven. He had bitterness towards his brother and although his brother did not sin against him but against his father, he was angry with him. Thus, his lack of forgiveness created in him various very harmful sins such as anger, bitterness, envy.
‘“But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. ‘ Luke 15:28 NKJV
The eldest son had not forgiven and therefore did not have peace in his heart. He was unable to rejoice because he was consumed by jealousy and instead of celebrating the return of his brother he condemned him. The elder brother was able to express only the fruits of the flesh such as jealousy, quarrel, animosity and not those of the spirit as his father did, simply because he did not forgive.
‘Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. ‘ Galatians 5 :19-24 NKJV
Indeed, the lack of forgiveness leaves a gateway to the devil and then comes to guide us to the unwarranted pleasures of the flesh.
‘“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.’ Ephesians 4 :26-27 NIV
In the scenario described at the beginning, the lack of forgiveness had opened the door to anger, bitterness and these feelings are not of God.
Without forgiveness, we cannot let the Holy Spirit manifest in us and instead of reaping the fruits of the spirit which are divine, tasty and filled with love, it is the fruits of the flesh that we reap. Except these are bitter, polluted and filled with hatred.
The Lord asks us to forgive so that the light of Christ, the love of Jesus can continue to shine in us. So that instead of bitterness and anger; love and joy will remain in our hearts. If we are to forgive it is first for our own good, and then to relieve the person in front of us.
This person you refuse to forgive, the Almighty Lord has forgiven, who are you then to keep this resentment against them?
As a Christian, our goal is to manifest Christ in our lives
Some may ask how do I forgive?
As far as I’m concerned, forgiveness started to be easier when I understood that people’s unhappiness was reflected in their behavior. A deeply wounded, bruised, helpless, insecure person will tend to hurt others more easily than loving them kindly. You can only give what you have. Conversely, a person filled with love, with grace and joy will do more good around them than harm. I understood this when I gave my life to Jesus. I received his forgiveness He forgave me all my sins and died on the cross so that I could have eternal life, so how could I not forgive in return?
So this person who had totally hurt me pushed me to learn the true forgiveness in Christ. Faced with this situation, I decided to pray and I clearly expressed to the Lord my feelings and my difficulties. Then I asked God, ‘Lord, you said in your word to forgive all those who have offended us, but I cannot forgive. Change my heart so that I can forgive this person.’ I said this prayer constantly and at some point, things changed. From that moment, the Lord opened my eyes. Little by little, I began to understand that this person had many challenges himself and that he was trying somehow to forgive himself and to change.
Compassion then guided me to forgiveness.
My answer to the question: how to forgive?
Pray and ask God to transform your heart, to allow you to see the person as he sees him, ask him to express compassion in your heart and you will see that forgiveness will come and open the door to more love.
‘And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.’ Ephesians 4:32 NKJV
Stay blessed 🙂