For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. --Matt. 6:14-15
We’ve all been hurt, lied to, or cheated on by someone we trust. They did it on purpose, too?!?! Forgiveness requires us to put away the wrong that has been done to us. It’s the boss with no apparent humanity. Parents divorce, leaving the family in shambles. Your best friend did the unthinkable and the relationship will never be the same. “I’m sorry,” goes in one ear and out the other; the socially appropriate gesture just didn’t quite seem to mend the dent in your heart. True forgiveness requires a much greater source of energy than it takes to respond to a cliche phrase. Why? Because forgiveness is hardly about the other person. It is about your relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” We must have the mind of Christ in order to forgive. Christ’s sacrifice is the gift that keeps on giving. This means if we accept Christ’s gift of life, we accept our responsibility to extend the same grace to others. This can be difficult to hear, but God’s truth is that we cannot be forgiven if we do not forgive (Mark 11:25)
True forgiveness is basically impossible to do on our own. Knowing who we are in Christ Jesus means welcoming God's love into our lives and doing our part to show God's love to others. Jesus willingly laid down his life for the forgiveness of sins. His actions signify that God loves us so much, He would rather put our sins away than judge and condemn us. He would rather make a life and death sacrifice than to leave us to our own spiritual destruction. Yet that same love requires us to dismiss our negativity so that we can be made new. Without God's healing power, unforgiveness breeds sin: hatred, gossip, pride, murder, etc. We cannot freely receive the love of Christ and not share that love with others and think we're straight with God.
If you need to ask God to help you forgive, pray this prayer: Lord, this is tough, but I believe in Jesus and His love for me. Help me to choose Christ's way. Help me to accept that You offer forgiveness for wrongs done to me. Help me to understand that in the fullness of Christ's love, I must offer forgiveness because I accept it for myself. Be glorified in the lives of those who have done wrong to me, even through their mistakes, because I trust you to do the same for me. Amen.
Discussion questions: What does it mean to love our neighbors as ourselves in terms of forgiveness? Why does God’s forgiveness depend on our forgiveness?
Miss Audrey Morrow, NGMEC