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Practice forgiveness, extend mercy

A religion teacher had just finished her class about forgiving others with a lesson about turning the other cheek.

So she asked little Johnny, “Now when you go home today, and the neighbor’s boy slaps you on the right cheek, what are you going to do?”

Johnny replied, “How big is the neighbor’s boy?”

Forgiveness is something we all want to receive, but don’t always want to give.

Another little boy was asked, “Why does God forgive?” He replied, “Because that’s his business!”

And that is why we forgive. We forgive because we believe we have the presence of God within us. Our lives ideally are so filled with God that we must act like God. And Jesus telling us in the Scriptures to forgive 70 times seven – suggesting an infinite number – makes the point that God’s mercy far exceeds our normal human generosity.

What messages are in there for us? Several. One positive message is that if we suffer from scrupulosity (going over again and again in our minds real or imagined transgressions) we can let go of the guilt. God forgives an infinite number of times. We can accept that forgiveness an infinite number of times. God isn’t bringing misery. God wants to bring mercy.

Second, we forgive because forgiveness not only sets someone else free, it sets us free. If I’m holding onto a grudge toward someone else, the suffering one is me. To forgive others is a gift to myself.

If we make a constant practice of forgiving ourselves and forgiving others we will transform our own lives.

Allow me to suggest a little practice: As you go through each day, stop every so often to see if you are disapproving of anything about yourself and let it go. Second, in that moment, give yourself love and approval. Third, check to see if you are disapproving of anyone else in your life. Let that go. Fourth, send them love and approval.

Again, all of this is going on inside our minds. No one knows we’re doing any of it. What happens is that we are constantly letting go of judgments about ourselves throughout the day and giving ourselves love. Then we are constantly dropping judgment of others and sending them love.

We literally are practicing, moment by moment, loving others as we love ourselves. That was a new commandment when Jesus gave it. It is worth becoming a new practice if we actually do it moment by moment.

Practice living each moment with the power of God. And in so doing, you and I are constantly becoming the very love of God himself.

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