Let me ask a question. Do we understand what it means to forgive? I mean really? Do we? The word used in the Bible for forgive or forgiveness is aphiēmi. Aphiēmi literally means to send away, disregard, to depart, leave behind, abandon. There are many other ways it is used, but are you seeing the impact of the word? The Bible says we are to forgive one another of our wrongs, both to each other and ones that are committed to others. That lie that your best friend said about you that embarrassed you in front of everyone, Jesus says to forgive them. Disregard that incident. Leave it behind. What about that thief that stole the only money you had to pay for your bills? Forgive them, abandon the trespass, send it away. I could go on with example after example and make a list of “what you should forgive others of”, but you see the point. As followers of Christ, Jesus expects us to forgive anyone no matter what they have done. Does that make the actions that caused offense right? Absolutely not. But understand this, just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean that you are acknowledging what was done is right. That is not what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is so much more powerful than that. Forgiveness essentially says, “it is very clear that what has went down is wrong, it’s not fair, it is not right at all, but instead of remembering it and harboring bitterness or anger, you choose to forget about it. Let is pass. Abandon the trespass as if it never happened.” By understanding what forgiveness is, it makes the entire concept of forgiving someone so much more real. Even though what has happened is wrong, Jesus says you must forgive.
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” ~Matthew 6:14-15
Jesus really didn’t beat around the bush in this Scripture, nor does He ever. Jesus Himself says that if do not forgive others of their trespasses or sins against us, God will not forgive us of all trespasses or sin against Him. We are so quick to receive the grace of Jesus Christ openly anytime it appeals to us, but what about when the tables are turned? Are as quick to extend that same grace to others? I know in my life, I haven’t always been. It’s easier to think that I am right, the other person is wrong, and just stay bitter at them. The problem with that is you never live in freedom that way. At least not fully. I heard this quote once and it has really spoke to me in this area. “We actually lose more than we win when we choose not to extend forgiveness to someone.” What do we lose? Freedom, relationships, peace, and as Jesus warns possibly our salvation. By choosing not to swallow our pride and going to whoever has offended you and offering forgiveness, we lose any relationship we have with that person, there is no peace in our hearts when that individual is around or mentioned, there is no happiness. We are trapped. I’ve said it before, but I think that unforgiveness is one of the most deadly sins that can ever enter our hearts. I heard my friend once say “when you don’t forgive, its like taking poison and expecting the other person to die – the longer you hold on to it the more damage it does to your mind and body.”
“Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” ~Luke 23:34
Jesus forgave those who were literally killing them. He didn’t hold their trespasses against them. He forgave them. He prayed for them. He loved them and still wanted them to receive eternal life with them. Jesus never once wanted to hold resentment in His heart to those people who had did Him wrong. So as His disciples who in the world can we ever expect to live different than Jesus? A disciple literally lives like their master, experiences the same things, says the same things. Jesus died to sin, so we must die to sin. Jesus loved, so we must love. Jesus forgave, so we must forgive.
Mike Donehey, the lead singer of Tenth Avenue North, posted a video about forgiveness that I drew a lot of thought from and I think it really illustrates forgiveness well. I’m attaching the video below.
I want to encourage you to make the effort to seek out those areas in your life that may be marred by bitterness and unforgiveness. Jesus wished to heal those scars and desires that you live in harmony with those who offended you. Your act of forgiveness could be a key factor in someone decided to accept Jesus. If they already know Jesus, it can push them closer to you and to God as well. Don’t allow that biterness to stay harbored in your heart. As stated before, Jesus claims that you put your own salvation at risk by choosing not to forgive. Nothing of this earth is worth that. Everything on this earth will pass away, but Jesus is forever. Learn to pick and choose what you get angry over. Nothing is so important that forgiveness can’t be extended. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. I’m sure family members of murder, rape, theft, etc, are so quick to forgive right away. It would be easier to hate, but Jesus says to love. Be blessed today, and may the Lord guide You in forgiveness.