By PASTOR TOMMY POPHIN
Among the greatest needs of people everywhere is the one concerning forgiveness.
I conduct a worship service every week at the Parker County Jail. The inmates who participate in the service constantly talk about their regrets and their desire to be forgiven. They seek forgiveness mainly from family members who they have disappointed by their actions. Perhaps these inmates reflect the need we all should have about our sinful actions: the need for forgiveness.
One of Jesus’ teachings from the Gospels was the one on prayer. He said, “This is how you should pray.” (Matthew 5:9) Within this “Lord’s Prayer” we find these words: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 5:12)
Forgiveness is a two-sided coin – on one side is the need to be forgiven, and on the other side is the need to forgive. Jesus went on to teach: “If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 5:14-15)
We all recognize that in order to have a heart like Jesus, we need to recondition our hearts with forgiveness. Paul wrote: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
As we recognize that God is the one who created us, we come to understand that He is the one who knows our greatest need. And He wants us to experience the power of forgiveness.
The power of forgiveness is the power to restore the soul. In the parable of “The Prodigal Son,” after the son came home and found forgiveness, the father said to the older brother, “We had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead (in his sin) but is alive again (forgiven), he was lost and is found.” (Matthew 15:32)