Have you ever imagined or asked yourself;
“What if someone stole from me. Would I be able to forgive this person? What if someone had been careless and transmitted the Covid19 virus to one of my children? Could I learn to forgive? What if I met a rapist, or even a murderer, could I ever learn to forgive them? Ever?”
Forgive As You Have Been Forgiven
One of the most striking and even terrifying statements in the New Testament comes from the mouth of Jesus Christ: “If you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt 6:15).
Christians understand that we are saved by grace and grace alone. Our own forgiveness was bought with the high price of the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on the cross. If anyone has the credibility to make this statement, it is Christ, who was rejected by the people he came to save, mocked, beaten senseless, spit upon, nailed to a cross and killed for the sins of the world. But before he breathed his last breath he said, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34).
But if we are saved by grace, why does there seem to be this one condition? Doesn’t grace mean that we don’t have to do anything to earn salvation? Indeed, we cannot do anything to earn it, because, in our sinful state, we are unable. Isn’t that why Jesus had to come and die?
The answer seems to lie in the fact that, though none of us changes into perfection immediately upon regeneration, there will be one marked change to the one who has truly put their faith in Jesus, and that is a willingness to forgive others. Jesus told his disciples that they should forgive seventy times seven times when someone sins against them (Mt 18:22). He was effectively saying that forgiveness must be infinite. This is because God’s forgiveness for us for our sin and rebellion toward him is infinite. Why? Because the blood of Jesus is infinitely enough.
A Perpetual Sacrifice
His sacrifice is perpetual. The Jews celebrated the Day of Atonement every year (Lev 16) because the atoning sacrifice, a spotless lamb, was needed every year, because the people sinned every year. The author of Hebrews tells us that Christ was a once and for all sacrifice, and there is no other sacrifice for sins that is necessary (Heb 10:1-18). His sacrifice is eternal, and so his forgiveness is infinite for those who have received the gift of life by his blood.
Considering all this, if a man or woman is unable to forgive others, then the fact is that they have not grasped their own need for forgiveness. They do not yet understand the unmerited forgiveness shown them by God through Jesus. If they have understood, they, even though it is difficult, will be able to trust the person to God for his judgment and forgive them. Judgment is not a burden that we have been built to carry, and neither is vengeance (Ro 12:19). Withholding forgiveness shows us to be an unbeliever, which is why Jesus would say, “If you do not forgive...you will not be forgiven.” He is saying, “If you will not forgive, then it is a sign that you have not been forgiven.”
Even when it feels impossible to forgive, consider it a blessing that God would command forgiveness. See it as permission to let go, knowing that God is the record keeper, not you. Trust him and lean not on your own understanding (Pr 3:5).
They Know Not What They Do
One other thing that can help us to forgive is to remember Jesus’ words on the cross. “They don’t know what they are doing.” There is a sense in which those who have hurt us cannot help it in their sinfulness. Even though we are held accountable for our choices, we also do what we know to do, to the extent that we know it and have the required strength of character. Jesus understood this paradox. By grace we learn right from wrong.
Someone who sins, is ultimately responsible for their own atonement and their spiritual challenges to face with God. But our challenge is clear. We must forgive, just like the Savior forgive those who killed him.
When we forgive, we experience freedom from anger and bitterness, and we will prove ourselves to be ones who have received the free gift of forgiveness. In these troubled times make forgiveness a priority and a spiritual discipline, and you will be like your Lord.
We hope you have enjoyed this thoughtful testimonial from Jeff Miller. Listen to our extensive Calm Christian Music online radio music channels for Christian Instrumental Music, Gospel music, Worship music and Praise music, Christian Choir music channels.