Forgiveness—what is it? And why is it so important?
The Oxford Dictionary defines forgiveness “as the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven”. To forgive is to “stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake”.
Forgiving does not mean to allow the offender or wrong-doer to continue to do wrong. It is an act of removing that person’s hold on you.
As Christians, we are forgiven. However, that forgiveness comes with a command. As Jesus said during his Sermon on the Mount:
“Our Father, which art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:9-15 KJV
I don’t know about you, but I have sinned and will continue to sin. I am human, not perfect. If I go a day without asking for God to forgive me for something, that is a day that I am enslaved to my sin. It is also a day that I have noticed that repeats itself in my mind until I request and receive the forgiveness. God WILL forgive a repentant heart.
Since I know that God will forgive me, how hard is it to forgive others? Extremely. There are people in my past and present that I have had to forgive in stages. Long, repetitious stages. I know that as time passes, the hurt and anger increases. But, I can use the promises of God to make those feelings subside.
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost”. Romans 15:13 KJV
“The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace”. Psalm 29:11 KJV
Now, I could hold a grudge against someone very easily. However, I strongly feel that if I am giving someone that much of my mind and heart, they are ultimately in CONTROL of me. I do not like anyone to have control over me (I’m stubborn that way). God gave me choices, I will use them. I will NOT have anyone else making those choices for me.
That being said, how are those I haven’t forgiven making my choices for me? Until I accept the peace that God provides, that person controls my thoughts and continually brings them back to the wrong. Everything I think about has that person and whatever situation in the forefront. Each decision I make will be second-guessed and bitterness usually prevails.
Bitterness pairs with unforgiveness. When the heart does not have the peace that only God can provide, it harbors ill-will and malice. We often wish for bad things to happen to the one that we haven’t forgiven. This is also not pleasing to God.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”. Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV
There are numerous verses in the Bible that either tell us that we are forgiven (if we repent) or command us to forgive others.
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Matthew 18:21-22 NIV
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25 NIV
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven” Luke 6:37 NIV
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sings psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”. Colossians 3:12-17 NIV
Brothers and sisters, is there someone that you haven’t forgiven? Are you letting that bitterness control you? Let it go. The forgiveness that you give isn’t for their sake, it’s for yours. Let God’s peace flow through you and feel the release.
–Father, if there is bitterness and unforgiveness in my heart, I ask that you give me the strength to forgive. Lord, guard my thoughts and keep them from resentment and ill-will. Allow me to forgive others as you have forgiven me. Thank You for Your love and grace. In Your Holy and Precious Name, Amen–
May the power and might of our one and only God guide you and protect your heart.
Forgiveness—what is it? And why is it so important?