“The idea is not simply that we have been forgiven, and therefore we ought to forgive, but that God Himself, in Christ, has forgiven us, and therefore our debt is incalculable. No matter how much wretched evil has been done against us, it is little compared with the offense that we have thrown in the face of God. Yet God in Christ has forgiven us. If we know anything of the release of this forgiveness, if we have glimpsed anything of the magnitude of the debt we owe to God, our forgiveness of others will not seem to be such a large leap.” – D.A Carson
At one time or another, every believer probably has that moment when they wonder if God can forgive them yet again after messing up for the umpteenth time. Culture and our open experiences teach us that there are limits to forgiveness. Is there a limit to even God’s ability to forgive? At the least, He must be tired of seeing us failing and hearing the same confessions repeatedly.
Forgiveness is a gift from God. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” This verse reminds us that forgiveness is not something we can earn or achieve on our own. It is a gift that God freely gives to us.
The truth is that there is no limit to God’s ability to forgive, cleanse, and restore. No Bible verse sets a limit on how many times God will forgive the sinner. The fact is, His forgiveness and mercy are without boundaries, as hard as that is to understand in our human capacity.
The Bible does, however, contain a whole number of verses detailing the multiple times Israel sinned or rebelled against God. Yet the Lord kept forgiving them and restoring them. In two thousand years from Abraham to Jesus, the Lord continued to stretch out His hands to them and plead with them to return to Him: “But regarding Israel, God said, “All day long I opened my arms to them, but they were disobedient and rebellious”(Romans 10:21). Luke 17:4 tells us“Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive” (Luke 17:4). It is God’s nature to forgive. David said, “Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help” (Psalm 86:5).
Think about that in human terms for a second. Seven times a day a friend willfully sins against you and in each case says, “I’m sorry.” We are to forgive him or her continuously, no matter what, even if it seems nothing will change. Jesus did not say, “Forgive your brother once or twice, then tell him you have had enough.” Instead, Jesus called for unlimited, no-strings-attached forgiveness. If we are asked to forgive seven times a day, how much more will our heavenly Father forgive His children? Don’t stop to reason it out; don’t ask how or why God forgives so freely. We need to accept His grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness.
Randy Alcorn said, “Are we trying to atone for our sins? We can’t. Only Jesus can, and He already did. Don’t try to repeat the atonement – just accept it! Embrace God’s forgiveness.”
- What is God’s reason for forgiving us in your opinion?
- What can we do this week to extend God’s forgiveness to others?