Forgiveness is fundamental to the character of God. Throughout the Bible, God is described as slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin (Numbers 14:18).
Words relating to ‘servant’ and ‘service’ are central in Christian theology. Some of the most important prophecies in Isaiah speak of the coming of the ‘Servant of the Lord’ and his role as a ‘suffering servant.’ That is why Jesus said that he ‘came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’
Jesus washed the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper. This turned upside down the normal relationship between master and disciple, leader and follower. In many ways, this astonishing action symbolizes the essence of the Incarnation: God stooping to share the human condition. Jesus is very clear about the meaning of his action: ‘Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done.’
The parable of the Good Samaritan shows we should serve those in need whoever they are. Such service is not offered to gain some advantage for ourselves. ‘Going the extra mile’ involves sacrifice, putting ourselves out for someone else’s benefit.
Serving God means serving others. It also means that we cannot serve other masters as well - such as money. However, the Christian message is equally clear that service is not all about restrictions. It is precisely in a life of service that we become most truly free. (Christian Values for Schools).
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romising in his command to forgive. Forgive, he said, ‘seventy times seven’ (Matthew 18:21). In other words, forgive and keep on forgiving without limit.
Forgiveness was at the heart of everything he did and is at the heart of the Lord’s Prayer. When Jesus declared a person’s sins to be forgiven, it often aroused the anger of those who were less willing to forgive than he was and yet a prayer for the forgiveness of his persecutors was on Jesus’ lips as he died. Christian preaching has always put forgiveness at the centre.
We forgive because we are forgiven. Paul says: ‘Be compassionate and kind to one
another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’ (Ephesians 4:32)
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