Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. — Ephesians 4:32Recently, I met a dear soul struggling to forgive someone who had wronged them. They were quite bothered, feeling quite mistakenly that if they could not forgive, God would not forgive them. I believe this is a gross misinterpretation of Jesus’ comments on this subject. In all actuality, we cannot possibly forgive until we first encounter how much we have been forgiven. Then, and only then, can we forgive the way we’ve been forgiven, as the above verse indicates.
You see, as we look at the basic definition of forgiveness, it is when the one who received loss inflicted upon them against their will now rises above that violation and willingly bears that sin, so the one who wronged them may go free. This, my friend, is exactly what we see transpiring at the cross. Consider the following:
“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.” (Colossians 2:14, emphasis added)
“Namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19, emphasis added)
“The sin is against God, and if he is willing to forgive it, he has the right to do so. No unbeliever would deny the right of a man to overlook a trespass against him. But God does not simply overlook the trespass; He gives His life as a forfeit.” (E.J. Waggoner, Waggoner on Romans, pg.7)
Could it be that the reason so many struggle to find forgiveness toward others in their heart is that we have failed to realize how freely we ourselves have been forgiven? This week, rather than striving to forgive those that have wronged you, try striving to believe how freely God has forgiven you. Let God show you what Calvary was all about and allow that forgiveness from Him to awaken in you forgiveness toward others.
“Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” (Colossians 3:13)
(For more on this subject, please download the sermon The Awakening)