Christian Words, Part Five – Forgiveness

Forgiveness – a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital for b : to grant relief from payment of

In our last blog post about Christian words, we talked about grace. We talked about that gift that God gives us, unmerited and undeserved. We said that with that gift, comes the requirement to trust in our Savior, and that through our faith we will be granted eternal life through Jesus Christ.

As a result of accepting Jesus Christ, and having faith, we find that He begins to work on our heart. As a result, we grow closer to Him. So as we do so, we begin to understand how our Savior expects us to live our lives. Part of accepting Him, and part of the grace of God, is His forgiveness for our sins. Acknowledging our fallen nature, we are told to repent and ask for His forgiveness. It is all a part of God’s plan, so that we may grow closer to Him.

I like the second definition above best. We have discussed before how the wages of sin is death. As fallen creatures in a fallen world, we have quite a debt to pay don’t we? When sin entered the world, the world became corrupt. It was not God’s fault we sinned. We chose to do so. We had free will. We could have continued to live peacefully in the garden, but instead chose the knowledge of good and evil. As such, we fell out of favor with God, only to be redeemed by our Savior Jesus Christ.

The fact is that as sinners, we all must ask for the forgiveness of our sins. As the definition above states so clearly, God grants relief from payment for those sins. He does so lovingly and happily. God wants nothing more than to be reunited with His creation. As a just God, we understand that He must provide consequences for our actions, but His grace also provides a way out, a way for us to be redeemed. Thus, through our Savior Jesus Christ, we are forgiven of our sins, and are able to have a relationship with our Father in Heaven.

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”
–Matthew 18:21-22

Jesus did not only come to establish how we would behave towards God, but also towards each other. Remember that Jesus gave us two commandments to follow, love your God, and love your neighbor. If we truly love our neighbors, do we not have to forgive them as well? The passage above explains how we are to forgive others. Jesus was trying to tell Peter, that we are to forgive others without ceasing. But oh how difficult that is for us isn’t it? We are a world of sinners, and sometimes it seems like the world is getting more and more corrupt. How many of us have not been wronged by someone? How easy is it for us to hold a grudge?

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
–Colossians 3:12-13

Why is it so important to God that we forgive others? I mean, in reality, if we just ask for forgiveness from Him, shouldn’t that be enough? Well, among other reasons, an important reason to forgive others is not for their sake, but for ours. God is well aware of the anger and resentment that breeds within us when we hold a grudge. He knows that Pride is the root of sin. When we put our own needs before others, it causes us to stray from Him, and how can we grow closer to our Savior when we are filled with hate, anger, and resentment? The answer is that we cannot.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. “
-1 John 4:8

I believe this verse says it all . Even though it is about love, isn’t forgiveness really just about love? If we love our neighbors, then we have to forgive. We don’t have a choice. And if God is love , then we simply cannot grow closer to God without giving up our grudge and forgiving those who have wronged us.

The fact is that Jesus came to save us all. God loves His creation, and part of His unending love is that He knows what is best for us. He desires a relationship with us, and we can only grow as spiritual beings when we accept the love of God. That love, the selfless agape love that we accept through our faith in Jesus Christ our savior asks us to soften our hearts, to find a way to forgive those who have wronged against us. That forgiveness is as much for us and our spiritual well being as it is for those that wronged us. It is part of the freedom we gain from the chains of sin that bind us. Once we loose those chains, we find that we can rest in the arms of our Savior where we belong.

“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: “
–Luke 6:37

Is there someone I need to forgive?

Probably.

I dare say that most of us have someone in our past that has wronged us that we have yet to forgive. We are all sinners, and as sinners we fail to do what is right all the time. Part of our walk with Christ is recognizing this fact, which acts to humble us, urging us to once again deny our selfish desires and do what Jesus asks us to do.

I will continue to ask Jesus to give me the strength and courage to do that very thing. I ask that He work on my heart every day, so that forgiveness is a normal part of my earthly life, until the day I meet Him face to face.

How about you?

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