When We Forgive
“And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” Luke 11:4 (NASB)
“for· give· ness”Dictionary result for forgiveness:/ˌfərˈɡivnəs/noun “the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.”
Do you ever notice that in the center of the word “forgiveness” is the word “give?”
Forgiveness is a grace word, a word of action. To truly forgive, we must “give” up what we might otherwise hold on to. When we release others from our feelings of hurt or resentment or bitterness, we extend our own grace to them just as when we confess our shortcomings and imperfections to God, bringing His forgiveness to us.
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis describes forgiveness as the most unpopular of Christian virtues. “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea,” he writes, “until they have something to forgive. It is made perfectly clear that if we do not forgive we shall not be forgiven.” The Bible is filled with examples of how and why we should practice forgiveness:
- We forgive because God has forgiven us first (Ephesians 4:32, GW)
- We forgive because God has instructed us to do so (Matthew 6:14-15, CEV; Romans 12:18, MEV)
- We forgive others to free our lives from hurt emotions (Genesis 4:1-8, NIV)
- We forgive so we won’t become bitter and hurt the spiritual lives of those around us (Hebrews 12:14-15, NLV)
What happens when we choose to forgive others? Does it change us?
First, when we forgive others, we are choosing to be obedient to God. Forgiveness isn’t a natural emotion for many of us. It just doesn’t come easy. We have to decide to forgive. We have to decide to live differently. Forgiving the wrongs we receive from others demonstrates our willingness to follow God in all things.
Second, when we forgive others, we are connecting with God and becoming more like Him. God is a loving, forgiving God. When we forgive, we are choosing to follow in His footsteps.
Third, when we forgive others, we are choosing to give them what God has already given to us! The ultimate gift from God is the undeserved forgiveness He offers us. By forgiving others, we demonstrate how much we appreciate that gift.
Finally, forgiveness brings peace into our lives. When we hold on to anger or bitterness because of something someone has done to us, it can eat away at us, robbing us of the joy and hope promised from salvation. Releasing that anger or bitterness through the act of forgiveness opens our hearts to receive the fullness of God’s grace.
Forgiving others is one of the most important, yet most difficult, responsibilities of Christians. We have all sinned and deserve God’s judgement, just as others sin against us. Yet through the sacrifice of Jesus, God has made His forgiveness available to all who believe in Him.
This week, reflect on how you can ask God to in your own life.Who do you need to forgive?
May God always guide your path.