For a long time in my life I've wondered, what is the true sign that I am a Christian? How do I know that I really am a Christian?
Is it having had a conversion experience? Is it speaking in tongues? Is it praying to or worshipping Jesus? Is it belonging to a particular church?
During Bible study tonight I realised what it was - the realisation came when John was talking about forgiveness as the most important thing - he made it clear - forgiveness is the sign of a true Christian!
If I can truly forgive people who have wronged me from the heart, then I know experientially that I belong to Jesus, who also forgives.
Forgiveness is wonderful too - it frees us from the past - far better than the 'closure' that seeing vengeance wrought upon the person who has wronged us can do. Having forgiven people who wronged us, the past painful events no longer have power over us - they are simply in the past, and a glorious peace, the peace which passes understanding, is over those events.
For the thing forgiveness does is it brings peace to our hearts - the peace of the knowledge that we are also forgiven by God. No one can truly experience God's peace until they have forgiven everyone who has wronged them.