Like the Grinch, how many of us have ever been offended or hurt? Hurt by a friend? Hurt by a sibling? Hurt by a spouse? Hurt on your job? Hurt by some other family member? Hurt in church? How many of us have ever been the offender?
Very often in talking about relationships, we talk about offenses, but we somehow seem to not explain about forgiveness and the power of it in our lives and more importantly, how to forgive.
(Mark 11:25-26 NKJV) So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. (23) For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. (24) Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. (25) “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. (26) But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
- Unforgiveness is the main obstacle to our faith working and our prayers being answered.
How does God forgive?
There are three parts to forgiveness:
- The Heart of Forgiveness
- The Act of Forgiveness – make the relationship right
- Restoration of the position in the relationship
Let’s see how God operates in forgiveness:
- When Jesus died for us, He died for all.
(Ephesians 4:32 NKJV) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
(Romans 5:12,18 NLT) (12) When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. (18) Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.
(Hebrews 7:27 NIV) Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
Jesus never again has to die, because the price has been paid once and for all. Based on these Scriptures, it is safe to say that in the heart of God, the price has been paid for all men to be saved and forgiven?
- When Jesus died for us, he paid in full the sin debt that we were incapable of paying.
(Colossians 2:13-14 NASB) (13) When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, (14) having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
- So, in the heart of God, we are forgiven but does that mean we are automatically saved? (in a right standing relationship with Him?)
No. We know from what the Bible teaches that this does not happen. (There is a part that God has played and a part we must play)
(1 Timothy 2:4 NKJV) God… who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
- We must acknowledge the truth that we are sinners, believe what He did for us, repent and then receive the act of His forgiveness.
(Acts 3:19 AMPC) So repent (change your mind and purpose); turn around and return [to God], that your sins may be erased (blotted out, wiped clean), that times of refreshing (of recovering from the effects of heat, of reviving with fresh air) may come from the presence of the Lord;
Once we repent, believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and make Him the Lord of our lives, we are saved, Born Again and in right relationship with God.
How does God want me to forgive?
(Matthew 18:21-35 NLT) Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” (22) “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! (23) “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. (24) In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. (25) He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. (26) “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ (27) Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. (28) “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. (29) “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. (30) But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. (31) “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. (32) Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. (33) Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ (34) Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. (35) “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
- In your heart, you begin forgiving by releasing any ill will towards them and wish goodwill to them.
(Luke 2:14 NKJV) “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
- With a heart of forgiveness, you release that person from owing you a debt to make things right between you.
(Matthew 6:12 NKJV) And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
BTW: There is no such thing as spiritual amnesia.
- This might be something you do many times; but do it until you have fully released the debt.
(Matthew 18:21-22 NLT) Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” (22) “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
- If and when they come to you and repent, then you extend to them the act of forgiveness and move towards restoring the position of the relationship. (Privileges, Benefits)
How do I know that he has repented? I will be able to see it in their actions.
(Matthew 3:8 NLT) Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.
When someone meets the qualifications in that they acknowledge the truth, repent, and then show the fruits of that repentance, then I MUST show them the act of forgiveness. I must restore our relationship and allow them to move forward in our relationship.
- If they never repent and ask for forgiveness, trust God with the outcome.
Can I hate them? Can I hold malice in my heart towards them? (Malice is the desire to see harm to come to someone because they wronged you.)
(Ephesians 4:31 NKJV) Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
(Romans 12:19 NLT) Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.
But we must come to a place that we trust that God is the only one that can truly settle the score and we let go of that anger and malice and leave justice up to Him.
We must walk in the attitude of forgiveness towards those people, let go of any anger, malice and bitterness towards them and then leave the payback and justice up to God.
The Law of sowing and reaping applies to sowing wrong towards others just like it does money.
Remember, God always wants to show mercy and it is not our place to determine if He is able to do that and when. We let Him determine what is the best course of action for people.