How Important is Forgiveness?

Now, can I add one more critically important piece of evidence for the Golden Rule? This goes to the heart of the central questions we all must answer: Does the Golden Rule really and truly belong alongside our love of God as one of the two ways to please God and the way to inherit eternal life? Does it really? Listen.

One day at the county jail, an inmate told me, “Mr. Gregerson, I keep trying, but I don’t feel that I am getting through to God in my prayers. Look at the ceiling in this room. See the clouds painted on the ceiling? I think my prayers don’t get past those clouds.” I replied to him, “Let me read you the words of Jesus and see if He helps you!” I read Matthew 6:14 and 15.

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will forgive you. But, if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.

“My friend, there are no ‘ifs’, ‘ands’, or ‘buts’ allowed here by God. Either we forgive others or God will not forgive us. Period.”

I read it to him again. He sat as if stunned. That was his problem! He told me later that he then prayed and prayed and prayed, forgiving. And at last he was clean! He finally was able to forgive others, and he was forgiven by God! His prayers were being answered! He knew God was dealing with him.

We all want forgiveness from God and others, so we must forgive others. It is a crucially important part of living the Golden Rule. Again, from the lips of Jesus Christ. I am sure you feel as I do. No feeling quite matches the liberating joy of forgiveness! It can be a life changer.

So when we stop to think about living the Golden Rule, the Great Commandment, we see that it obviously includes forgiveness. And so much more. So many issues face us personally, such as dealing with thoughtless or stupid drivers or bad attitudes in stores. Then think of problems in the family, with children, relatives or neighbors, and business problems. All that and so much more at a personal level. Golden Rule living surely requires a life-changing attitude on our part, a new way to live our lives. Agree?

For me, it starts with empathy, putting myself in the other person’s shoes and looking at life through that person’s eyes. Remembering that their attitude has been shaped by their life experiences and by the influence of their parents, teachers, friends, and television. Then I can connect and understand why we are so different—politically, religiously, economically, and on and on.

I then ask myself, “If I were that person, how would I want to be dealt with by someone different?” For her long-term good? I need to figure that out, in my conscience. What would be good for me if I were her? Thank God for the Golden Rule! It makes all the difference in coping with life.

As I stopped to think about all that we have discussed, I asked myself: “What could possibly be better for all of us humans on planet earth than that each one of us would pull up the best in ourselves to think and act sincerely for the good of each other?” It would be “God’s will done on earth as it is done in heaven!”

I asked God to please help me live by the Golden Rule. It is my “why” to live for.

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