Forgiveness, indisputably, is the fundamental relational issue in the Bible. It is essential to our relationship with God, with others, and even with ourselves. Forgiveness is critical for our emotional, mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.
Bible teaches us – as Martin Luther affirmed during the Reformation – that we are saved by grace alone. God loves, forgives and saves us not because of what we are or what we do, but because of the work of Christ on the cross. Yet there are several verses that seem to suggest that we will receive his forgiveness only when we are willing to forgive those who have wronged us.
Jesus says, in Luke 6:37, “Forgive and you will be forgiven.” In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught his disciples to pray: “Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us” (Matthew 6:12). Again, he says, “If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done” (Matthew 6:14-15). In Mark 11:25 (NIV), Jesus tells his disciples, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
This does not mean that divine grace is conditional. What it means is that if we are unwilling to forgive others, we cannot really experience God’s forgiveness.
“The two primary causes of emotional stress are the failure to forgive and the failure to receive forgiveness.” (Dr. David Seaman in Healing for Damaged Emotions)
Is there someone you have not forgiven? God wants us to forgive for he has forgiven us. He is merciful like the king in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18). But when he forgives us, he expects us to forgive others.
St. Stephen's celebrated its centenary on 26th December 1953 with much fanfare. Until then there had been no electric lights or fans. They were installed during this time.