“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” – Luke 6:37.
“I want to forgive him, but I just can’t get there. What he did to me is inexcusable and unforgivable. You would agree with me if you knew the circumstances.” You have probably heard those same words in some variation. Forgiveness is hard to do, but we as followers of Jesus are called to pardon those who wronged us. In essence, we are to no longer blame or be angry at those who did us wrong.
Matthew 6:14-15 says, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Clearly, Jesus is saying that our horizontal forgiveness of others is related to our vertical forgiveness from God. The absence of horizontal forgiveness translates into the absence of vertical forgiveness.
In many cases, we are looking for some action from the people who wronged us. We want them to change or apologize before we forgive them. The Bible suggests an alternate strategy. Colossians 3:12 tells us to “…clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Philippians 2:4 says to “…look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Ephesians 4:32 instructs us to “…be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
God’s forgiveness is now our standard. Forgiveness is a precious gift we’ve received…and one we’re called to give others. But sometimes people get stuck by thinking that if we forgive it’s as if we’re saying that what the other person did, didn’t matter. That is not true. After all, we can only forgive when there’s something to forgive. Forgiveness acknowledges that the other person has done something wrong, and is truly at fault. When Christ uttered, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing,” (Luke 23:34), He knew all too well the depth of the deep offense against Him. But we need to remember that Jesus didn’t die for a select group of people. He died for everyone. That includes those who have been good to us and those who have harmed us. Understanding what God did for us is the best way to learn how to forgive.
Rick Warren summed it up in this quote: “And you know when you’ve experienced grace and you feel like you’ve been forgiven, you’re a lot more forgiving of other people. You’re a lot more gracious to others.”
- What is forgiveness to you?
- Is there power in forgiveness? Why or why not?
- What happens if I don’t forgive?