Forgiveness

Have other persons trespassed against you?  You could probably compile a long list of offenses that you have received from others.  Maybe just thinking about a person will bring up memories of what they did to you.  Have you forgiven each person their offense?  Maybe there are some offenses that you just cannot let go. Then let me turn it around.  Have you ever done things to others that you should not have done?  I think it is pretty certain that you have. I know that over my lifetime I have done and said many things to others that I regret.  Maybe you have done things that hurt others.  Or maybe you said things that were hurtful or uncaring.  Afterwards, did you realize you were wrong and did you want to be forgiven for what you had done or said? 

Not only have you trespassed against another, but you have trespassed against God and His standard of righteousness.  Psalms 53:2-3 “God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. Every one of them has turned aside; they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one.”  Yes, every one of us is a sinner before God.  Your sins separated you from God and you became His enemy.  As a just God, He has the right to condemn you to eternal damnation.  But the wonderful news of the gospel is that He loved you and provided a way back to Him.  John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”  Ephesians 1:7 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” 

Now you have received the forgiveness of your sins.  As the prophet said in Micah 7:18-19 “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”  I like that illustration.   There are places in the ocean that are so deep and remote that even modern man has not explored.  That remote place is where your sins have been cast.  Hidden.  Forgotten.  Now, through Jesus, you are considered a child of God and can be declared righteous and receive all spiritual blessings and the riches of heaven.

There are some conditions on your forgiveness from God.  And one condition is that you forgive others their offenses to you.  In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus taught His disciples to pray in Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”  Then after the prayer, He said in verse 14 and 15 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  The importance of forgiving others cannot be overstated.  If you want forgiveness from God, you have to forgive others.

But it is not easy to forgive some offenses.  What if he repeatedly sins against you?  Matthew 18:21-22 “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’”  Don’t do the math.  It is not an exact number of times you need to forgive.  Jesus is saying that as often as he sins against you, you need to forgive him.  Then Jesus gave the parable of the King that forgave his servant a great debt, but that servant turned around and would not forgive a fellow servant a small amount.  The king then restored the debt on the first servant and sent him to be tortured until he would pay the total debt (Matthew 18:23-34).  Jesus concludes in verse 35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

Jesus also taught in Luke 17:3-4 “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”  You may reason that the one who sinned against you didn’t come to me and say he was sorry so you don’t need to forgive him.  But look at the example Jesus gave when He was tortured and nailed to the cross.  Luke 23:34 “Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’”  Those who put Jesus on the cross were not sorry for what they had done.  Yet, Jesus forgave them.  You should be like Jesus and forgive even if someone doesn’t say he is sorry. If you don’t forgive another, it will create bitterness within you towards them.  Bitterness is a sin on your part and will even cause you health issues because you hold the feelings inside you.  Let the feelings go and forgive.

Why did God forgive you through Jesus?  He gave you forgiveness because he loved you (John 3:16).  Why should you forgive others?  Because you love them.  Remember that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor (Matthew 22:39).  You don’t love their sin and their trespass against you.  But can love them as a precious soul before God and forgive them.

My encouragement to you is to forgive any and all that have trespassed against you.  Don’t bring it up and remind them what they have done.  Don’t bring to your remembrance and think about what they did to you.  Cast out all bitterness.  Forgive.  Colossians 3:12-13 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”