Today as in the days of Paul, we may face circumstances when all those who once stood by our side forsake us and we stand alone. How do we respond when this happens? Paul has learned his lessons well and he learned the art of forgiveness from the lips of Jesus “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” and the first martyr Stephen, whose cloak he held, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” [Acts 7] Now Paul can say about those who have abandoned him in his time of deep distress: “may it not be counted against them.” That is true grace.
We must be ready in season and out of season because there will come a time when we must be ready to offer forgiveness for these who once stood beside us but now have forsaken us and like the words of Jesus: we must forgive not seven times but forgive with no limits. [Mt 18] It is now that we come back to the Word and remind ourselves, that we have “been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God…” We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who gives power to forgive even the most unforgivable remembering this truth: although men may fail you the “Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”[Deut 31/Heb 13] This is mature faith, true grace and true humility.