Two days this month have been set aside to honor Forgiveness. Today Sunday August 3rd is International Forgiveness Day and Global Forgiveness Day is held on August 27th. Who new right? But on this #Salvationsunday I wanted to share the importance of forgiveness in our lives.
Biblical forgiveness involves “letting go” of bitterness or revenge and “graciously giving” pardon to those who ask. This by far is not the only definition, we would have to look at the context of how it’s being used. With so many references of forgiveness in the bible, the best way to start is using scripture with scripture.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV)
In this passage Paul uses forgiveness in the manner of “giving graciously” to something that wasn’t deserved. So, God is commanding us to forgive others in a tender-hearted way (even when that forgiveness isn’t deserved) “just as God in Christ also has forgiven” us. This is probably the most important text for explaining forgiveness! Here, God is clearly aligning our forgiveness with His. God offers forgiveness of sin to all men everywhere who repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38, 3:18-21, 17:30-31). There are two parts to God’s forgiveness: (1) the attitude and offer of forgiveness through the Gospel, which is preached to all nations; and (2) the gracious forgiveness of all those who actually repent and believe in Christ for salvation. Likewise, our forgiveness is defined by those same two elements.
What is forgiveness? The entire Bible points to Jesus Christ and his divine mission to save us from our sins. The Apostle Peter summed it up like this:
We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.
Refusing to forgive is a sin. If we receive forgiveness from God, we must give it to others who hurt us. We cannot hold grudges or seek revenge. We are to trust God for justice and forgive the person who offended us. That does not mean we must forget the offense, however; usually that’s beyond our power. Forgiveness means releasing the other from blame, leaving the event in God’s hands, and moving on. We may resume a relationship with the person if we had one, or we may not if one did not exist before.
Psalm 103:10-14 ESV
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
Matthew 6:15 ESV
But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Come back on August 27 for part 2 of this Forgiveness devotional.