Luke 15: 11 – 24 (NIV): Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.
So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’
So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. ‘ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
The story of the Prodigal Son tells the story of our lives from many different perspectives. At Christmas time we are reminded of the gift of forgiveness that God offers to each one of us through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Throughout life, every person wanders away on that path of disobedience and destruction; some of us more frequently and far more distant than others, but we all experience the pain of separation.
Separation from those we love; separation from friends and family; separation even from our own sense of who we are; but most devastating of all is the separation from God that we bring upon ourselves when we walk away from Him, as this young man turned away from his earthly father.
When we contemplate the gifts we are giving at this most joyous of seasons, the celebration of the birth of our Savior, let us remember that as God gave us the very best gift of all, we can also give the gift of forgiveness. For some of us that is a difficult gift to pull together, out of depths of our broken hearts and from the gaping wounds of our shattered spirits. But forgive we must, if we are ever to have peace in our lives.
As we approach the new year with anticipation, let’s all put the Gift of Forgiveness at the top of our “To Do” list . . . . and as hard as it might be, let’s mean it! Who do you need to forgive? Perhaps you need to forgive yourself. Often that is the hardest one to achieve, and yet there is the proof. Right in front of us: if God can forgive us, how can we rise above His standard of love and grace?
But what if there is someone in your life who has hurt you and yet has never asked for your forgiveness? Perhaps we aren’t obligated to forgive those who do not ask for it, I’m not sure. God’s Word tells us that we must ask for His forgiveness to receive it, so perhaps that means that forgiveness is only required when it is asked for. On the other hand, it is also clear that we will be forgiven by God in the same measure with which we forgive others. Seems to me that it’s still a good idea, whether it is requested or not!
Besides that, when you are holding on to something that is so heavy and burdensome; that “thing” that will cripple you and eventually paralyze you, why wouldn’t you rather just get rid of it? Forgive. Choose to forgive, even if you don’t feel like it. Forgiveness is a choice; an act; a behavior, it is not necessarily a feeling. It is an act of obedience to the Lord, which He will honor in your life.
The very best Christmas gift of all . . . . the free gift of God’s grace, forgiveness, and redemption through the blood of the Lord Jesus. The very best Christmas gift we can give to ourselves and others: forgiveness. That’s it. The best!
Have a joyous and blessed Christmas day and a joyous New Year. I am looking forward with great anticipation to all that God has for us in the coming weeks and months.
Image from “Three Minute Bible Study.”