Forgiveness is an important word to Christians. There is no salvation without forgiveness.
The quality of worship and adoration that a heart can lift to the Lord Jesus is directly influenced by the apprehension of the forgiveness received.
“He that is forgiven little, loveth little” – LUKE 7:47
The wrong things we do (sin), is an offence to God, and as such we are guilty and incur God’s wrath.
The Lord Jesus came to give “himself a ransom for all” (1 TIM 2:6). He bore the consequence of sin, but our sins remain blocking the way between us and God until forgiveness is given by God, and received by us.
Forgiveness is only appropriated through confession of sins and believing by faith that Jesus has indeed become our substitute to take the punishment due to us.
The implication of this belief in the Lord Jesus means we realize that we have no ability to escape God’s judgement, and that only the Lord Jesus can help us.
“Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.” MAT 9:28
(said the blind men to Jesus when they asked Him for help to restore sight).
When we come to this position of surrender we, by faith, put our lives into His care. It is then it is possible for forgiveness to be given – not because of anything in us, but because Jesus has done what is necessary to obtain that forgiveness for us.
God is able, for “Christ’s sake”, to forgive us – meaning, on account of what Christ has done, God forgives you.
“.. even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” EPH 4:2
When God gives this forgiveness – we are ‘saved‘.
Now that God has forgiven us, He now requires the same from us!
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” EPH 4:32
Those words are not given as requests, but as commands. “Forgive one another…” There are no exclusions to the command like “if possible” or “if it isn’t too grievous”.
We should understand it’s importance: When we refuse to forgive another, we are putting our ‘moral values’ above that of God’s! If God could forgive all trespasses, who are we to not forgive? Are we more righteous that God? May it not be so.
On the other hand, we can go to the other extreme where we ‘forgive’ all to easily. Sometimes what is taken for forgiveness, is simply avoidance. Avoidance to talk about issues, avoidance from fellowship, avoidance from serving one another.
That is not forgiveness. If fact, it makes matters worse as there is harboured bitterness, which defiles the soul and conscience.
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness…Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;” HEB 12:14
Did you notice that the bitterness that springs up in one, can defile many?
How then can we know what forgivess means? Let’s take a look at the meaning of the word.
Look at the following definition from Thayer
- to send away
- to bid going away or depart – of a husband divorcing his wife
- to send forth, yield up, to expire
- to let go, give up a debt, forgive, to remit
- to give up, keep no longer
Interesting isn’t it? To forgive means to ‘send away’, ‘release’ or ‘keep no longer’.
Isn’t that what God has done for us? Isn’t that what we enjoy? Release from guilt of sin, it’s consequence and even the very rememberance of sins we have committed.
“Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” ROM 4:7
This is the type of forgiveness we need to show one another. We know we have forgiven as God has forgiven us, when there is no more bitterness, no more anger, no more offence felt between the offender and offended.
When we forgive one another, we preserve the bands of unity that the Holy Spirit has forged amongst us. It makes it blessed to be with one another, and we will truly come into the enjoyment of what we call ‘fellowship’.
Fellowship with God and with one another will never be fully enjoyed until we have ‘released’ one another from the offences committed.
Are we suffering from ‘lack of fellowship’, or complaining of our lack of joy when we are with others in church? Maybe its because there is forgiveness to be given or received in your life.
Oh may we search our hearts for bitterness and anger, and ask the Lord to reproduce His forgiveness in ourselves. It is the ‘release’ we need.