Forgiveness is an integral part of mankind’s salvation. When Jesus hung on the cross to release us from the penalty of our sin, which is eternal death, He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), we were forgiven of everything that we ever have or will have done that God considers to be sin. He paid the penalty for all forever. Not only did Jesus pay the penalty for our sins, but, our Sovereign Lord, chose to “forget.” Our sins are wiped out. God will never hold that sin against us.
“In love and mercy, the Lord has removed His people’s sins from them. He doesn’t simply move our sins onto our doorstep or a mile away; God moves them as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:10-12).
“For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12).
As God has forgiven us of all of our sins, He does not ask us to consider forgiving others, He commands it. Jesus set the standard for forgiveness. Whether we feel like it or not, we must choose to forgive and release our anger, hurt and what ever else we think they deserve. We are to forgive all those who have caused us pain, no matter if they have repented or not from what they did to us.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44).
A Christian who is not willing to forgive others, will suffer the consequences of their sin or refusing to forgive one another.
“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
“Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward” (2 John 1:8).
Tim Keller, in his book, “Forgive: says: “The cheap-grace model of forgiveness focuses strictly on inner emotional healing for the victim, on “getting past it and moving on,” but then ends up letting the perpetrator off the hook. The little-grace and no-grace models basically seek revenge, which can lead to endless cycles of retaliation and vengeance, back and forth, between the victim and the wrongdoer. What all these secular models lack is the transformed motivation that the vertical dimension brings. The experience of divine forgiveness brings profound healing. It is grounded in a faith-sight of Jesus’s costly sacrifice for our forgiveness. That reminds us that we are sinners in need of mercy like everyone else, yet it also fills the cup of our hearts with his love and affirmation. This makes it possible for us to forgive the perpetrator and then go speak to him or her, seeking justice and reconciliation if possible. Now, however, we do not do it for our sake—but `for God’s sake, for the perpetrator’s sake, and for future victims’ sake.”
Such a thought that forgiving others is not about us as much as it is about the perpetrator is something that few of us have considered. When we understand the depths of God’s love for us, then we will want to not only forgive others, but also go to those who caused us pain, not to accuse, but rather to share the good news about Jesus and His love whenever possible.
In Matthew 6 and 7 Jesus addresses the Pharisees and calls them out on as being hypocrites. Their righteousness was insincere and dishonest. They were seeking the applause of men. In Matthew 6 and 7, Jesus is testing the authenticity of their faith. Are we sincere and honest in our commitment to Christ by the way we give, pray (with a giving heart), fast and use our wealth? There is severe judgement for pretending to be a Christ follow but are not.
“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:15).
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions” (Mark 11:25).
“… and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote: “He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power of love. We can never say, ‘I will forgive you, but I won’t have anything further to do with you.’ Forgiveness means reconciliation, and coming together again.”
For Jesus to give his life and to forgive his tormentors was an act of enormous love and spiritual strength, and one of surpassing beauty. It is burned into the hearts and imaginations of every member of the community. The apostle Peter saw this beauty with his own eyes and summarized it vividly: When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” . . . Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 2: 23–24; 3: 9)
This is the kind of community that produces forgiveness and the healing of relationships. (Tim Keller)
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you” (Philippians 3:13-15).
”Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31,32).
“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:12-14).