The subject of forgiveness is a touchy one for most people. I freely admit that I am most people. The idea of forgiving someone when they have wronged me, or repeatedly wronged me, is displeasing. Or, should I say it is displeasing to my fleshly nature?
Why does God require us to extend forgiveness to those who have offended us? Is He simply wanting us to let wrongdoing go and let the offender off the hook? Through study and my own experience, I can confidently assure you that is not case. God requires us to extend forgiveness for our own benefit.
Forgiveness from God
Quite simply, God has forgiven us a great sin debt. This was accomplished when Jesus was crucified and died. Our new life came through His resurrection. By nature, we are sinners. No matter how hard we try or how good we are, we are unable to atone for our sins. Jesus paid a great price to free us from our sinful nature.
God freely gave us His forgiveness. Once we accept what Jesus did as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, we become born again. When we sin, we go to the Father, through Jesus Christ, to receive forgiveness. We did not deserve this grace and mercy, but He freely gave it.
Because of the forgiveness we have received, we must forgive others when they sin against us. Refusing to forgive puts a barrier between us and God. It also opens us up to being ruled by other sins such as malice, unbridled anger, gossip, and many others. We become obsessed with getting revenge which can be dangerous to us and others.
Forgiving others does not mean that the offense was not wrong. It does not mean that is is okay that you were hurt. It simply means that you release the offense to God giving Him the right to take care of it. Trust me, God knows how to deal with other people. Once you have released the offense (an act you might have to repeat several times), you will find that you have joy and peace. You will realize that the offense was weighing you down.
Often, the person I have needed to forgive is myself. You might find the same is true in your case. When I keep falling into the same sin over and over, I begin to become self-condemning. Unfortunately, this is not productive. What is productive is bringing myself to the throne of grace, pouring my heart out in repentance to the Father. His Word promises that He will cleanse us of our sins when we go to Him.
Once you have repented, leave condemnation alone. If you try to carry it, you will be of no use to the kingdom of God. It is not humility. It is a selfish focus on yourself and an insult to the blood of Jesus. Whether you realize it or not, you are saying the blood of Jesus is not enough when you walk in condemnation. We do not need to do penance. We simply need to repent and allow the Holy Spirit to transform us.
So, How about Forgiving?
Are you struggling to forgive someone who has done a great wrong to you? Are you struggling to forgive yourself? Bring that hurt to the Lord. He is able to take it and make you new again.
Refusing forgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will die. It is dangerous, and it is heavy. You will feel much lighter when you let go of the offense and allow God to take vengeance. Forgiveness, whether being given or received, brings transformation.