Going Deeper with the Message:
You Also Must Forgive
by: Ben Biles
On Sunday, Tim made the point that “forgiveness is not weakness. Forgiveness is looking squarely at what the person did to you, recognizing the severity of what they did to you and choosing to release them of the debt that they owe you. It takes a lot of strength and courage to do that.” In other words, forgiveness is hard work. It takes a good amount of grit. It takes a strong person to be able to forgive. Yet, as people forgiven by God, we are called to forgive people when they wrong us. Not just once or twice, but always. God doesn’t make this optional.
Consider one of my favorite verses in all of Scripture, Colossians 3:12-13, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Paul doesn’t make any exception to the rule. In all situations, we are required to forgive. As much as we’d like to hold on to our grudges, that kind of mindset simply isn’t compatible with faith in Christ. Why? Because it is out of alignment with God’s own character and His own action. He showed the greatest commitment to forgiveness when He forgave the entire world of their sins through the sacrifice of His Son. In the same way, as God’s forgiven people, we must strive to exemplify God’s character in our lives to the world around us and part of that means forgiving people in all situations.
Jesus tells the parable in the Gospel of a man who was forgiven his enormous debt, but then went and wrongly treated those who owed him. This hypocrisy rightly disgusted his audience, but then Jesus flipped the script on them. If God has forgiven you all of your sins, then why are you not doing the same for those that have wronged you? The point is: when believers refuse to forgive, we display hypocrisy. If we are to spread the Gospel message with conviction and clarity, then we must first extend the same forgiveness that we have received in Jesus Christ to all people.
Living out the Message:
Delighting in Forgiveness
By Ben Biles
“You need to forgive them.” This is something we’ve heard since childhood, and it seems like a lesson we’ve continually had to learn. Why haven’t we mastered this yet? Many of us would rather harbor the bitterness in our hearts than make the move toward forgiveness. Our wounded egos too often prevent us from taking that crucial step. No wonder God continually commands us to cultivate humility, for only the humble-hearted are capable of the unlimited forgiveness God desires us to extend to others.
Our own ability to forgive always originates with the knowledge that God has first forgiven us. God offers complete, unconditional forgiveness for all the sins we have done and will do, and our forgiveness should mimic His. This transformational forgiveness from God affects both our mind and heart, and both are required in order for us to extend true forgiveness to others. Forgiveness that does not come from the heart only serves to complicate the situation. The offending party is given a false sense of security, believing that their mistakes have been dealt with. Meanwhile, we continue on in our wounded state reinforced by a fake facade.
Contrarily, when we take God’s forgiveness to heart, we naturally respond by offering the same forgiveness. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23). Whoever is centered in God does not hold on to grudges, but extends forgiveness through love, showing the fruit of God’s Spirit through their actions and words.
Rather than showing a reluctance to forgive, we should delight in forgiveness for it gives us an opportunity to show the love and grace of our Heavenly Father. “I have forgiven you this one thing, but God has forgiven all your sins.” If we desire to live as reflections of God on this earth, let us rise to every occasion to showcase forgiveness.
Ask yourself is there is anyone to whom you need to extend forgiveness. Search your heart for the reasons you struggle to forgive. Consider the forgiveness you’ve received from God and others and the freedom you’ve felt from that. Then, seek out opportunities to forgive and extend God’s love.