Proverbs 19:11 A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (NIV)
Forgiveness is at the core of who we are as followers of Jesus Christ. As His followers we will choose to forgive those who have offended us.
How do we know that we are loved by God? There is one event in all of creation that says to us that we are loved by God. He chose to become a man, to take on flesh and to go to the cross. In doing so, He chose to take upon Himself all the guilt of all the sin that was ever sinned or ever will be sinned. God says to us our debt to Him has been paid in full. We owe Him nothing. He chooses to overlook our offenses. He chooses to love us.
When we accept Jesus Christ, when we place our trust in Him, when we believe in Him we accept the truth that our sin is forgiven. We accept the truth that God loves us. We accept the truth that God wants to have a relationship with us.
This is the beginning, the middle and the end of our relationship with God. God treats us as those who are justified, as if we had never sinned. God will never choose to do otherwise.
The only way we are lost, condemned, damned, is if we refuse to accept His love for us; if we refuse to believe God forgives us. Once we have accepted the truth that God canceled our debt, we are restored to a relationship with Him. Now that we are in a relationship with Him, we walk in obedience to our loving Heavenly Father. His command is that we love Him and love one another. We love Him by obeying Him. We also love others by obeying Him. As our relationship with God started with forgiveness, forgiveness must be at the core of our relationship with one another.
Forgiveness is the foundation of our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Forgiveness is at the core of who we are as Christians.
We need to be forgiven because we did not trust Him to love us. We failed to love and obey the Lord of all Creation. We offended God by treating Him as less than God, by thinking we knew better than God. When we ignore Him, we offend Him and go our own way. We separate ourselves from Him, from His love and His lordship. The only way back is to admit our sin, that is to confess that we failed Him. John, one of Our Lord’s closest followers, says that God is faithful to forgive us when we acknowledge our sin, when we acknowledge we chose to go our own way instead of following Him. This is to be our lifestyle as those who are like Christ.
Through His forgiveness we are restored to a relationship with our Lord; we are restored to the position we were created to fill.
We must forgive others because we have been forgiven.
Forgiveness starts here. We acknowledge that our debt to God has been paid by God. He has overlooked our offenses. He calls us to over look the offenses of those who offend us.
Refusing to forgive is to refuse to live under the Lordship of Christ. Our debts to God have been paid in full. This is the beginning of how God loves us. We have chosen to live with God as the Lord of our lives. Since God forgave our debt, we must, as His followers forgive others as the beginning of our love for them. Refusing to forgive is refusing to love and to fulfill our decision to walk in a relationship with God; to walk with Him as Lord of our lives.
When we say to ourselves or to God that we cannot, or will not, forgive someone, we are saying to God that we have chosen to take God’s place and stand in judgment of this person and demand that they pay for their offense, when we were forgiven for our offences against God. We are taking God’s place as judge of other people.
When we forgive we turn the offences of others over to God. We allow Him to decide what must be paid and what must not be paid, who will be forgiven by God and who will not be forgiven by God.
When we forgive we are saying to ourselves and to God that we will no longer demand that this other person pay the debt they owe to us. This frees us to love them as God has loved us. Until we do so, we keep ourselves locked in bondage and tied to this other person. We can only be free from this bondage when we turn it over to God and forgive as we have been forgiven.
Forgiving someone is a decision, a choice we make. It is one step in the choice to love that person. When you forgive you cancel the debt someone owes you.
When God forgives us, he declares our debt to be paid in full. When we forgive others, we decide that we will treat them as though we are starting fresh. We will act toward them as though they had not offended us. Until we forgive them, we are not free to love them. Until we choose to forgive, we are demanding they pay what they owe, we are taking God’s place as Lord of their lives.
Matthew 18:32 "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.33 Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?'34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." (NIV)
Jesus makes it clear in this story and in other teachings that forgiveness is not optional for us. God forgives us and He expects us to forgive others.
Whatever someone owes me, they owe it not to me, but to God. Jesus paid their debt as well as mine, so they owe me nothing.
This is not something we can do on our own. We cannot truly forgive someone without the help of God. We need His help to love others in this way.
Our verse in Proverbs 19:11 says: A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (NIV)
True wisdom only comes from God. True patience only comes to us as we allow the Spirit of God to work in us. Enabling us to forgive and overlook the offenses we suffer at the hands of others is the work of God in our lives. It was the work of God through the Son to take away the sin of the world, to bear the cost of canceling our debt to God.
In John 1:29, John the Baptist said of Jesus, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away he sin of the world!” (NIV)
Isaiah 53:6 says of Jesus, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (NIV)
It is Jesus who takes our sin away. Everyone’s sin has been laid on Him. He is the reason we are forgiven. He is the reason we can forgive one another.
I do not say it is easy to forgive someone who has mistreated us. I do say it is necessary. We must have peace with God. Peace with God comes through forgiveness. Forgiveness comes when we are faithful to confess our sin, our failure to love and obey God. God cancels our debt. Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe.
If we want a closer walk with God, we must accept His love, His forgiveness. We must live with Him as the Lord of our lives. If He is Lord we will forgive as we have been forgiven.