You’re offended. You’re humiliated. You’re hurt. Maybe it all went down last week, maybe last month…maybe last year. Either way, it feels like it was just moments ago and your nerves and emotions are still raw. And speaking of ‘nerve’…the person who sinned against you just came up…acting all broken and contrite…and asked you to forgive them. “You’ve got to be kidding! After all they did?” You didn’t say it out loud, but your heart and mind screamed, “I’D RATHER STRANGLE YOU THAN FORGIVE YOU!”
Close to Home?
Was that description a little too close to home? It’s possible that you’ve tried to ask someone’s forgiveness at some point and been denied in one way, shape or form. It’s also possible that at some point you’ve been on the “screaming” end of that scenario. If that’s true, then this post is for you. Let’s look at what it means to biblically forgive someone as well as the implications of that forgiveness.
Forgive Like God
Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” For such a small verse, there are some large expectations and implications. Not only are we to forgive each other, but we are to forgive each other in the same way that GOD…through Christ…forgave us. To better learn how to forgive others, I believe it is imperative that we become fully aware of how God forgave (and continues to forgive) us.
How Does God Forgive?
Read Matthew 18:21-35! It is powerful in helping us understand God’s economy of forgiveness.
Ok, now that you’ve read it, here are some lessons we really need to let sink in. As we interpret this passage, realize that the king is God, we are the slave who owes the king, and those who sin against us are represented by the slave that owes us.
- Our sin is so great before a holy God! We could NEVER, EVER, EVER pay the debt of our sin.
- God is gracious and merciful. Through the blood of Christ He has completely forgiven us of that debt!
- In light of God’s forgiveness of our millions, who are we to deny forgiveness to someone whose sin against us could never compare to our sin before a holy God?
- God’s forgiveness of our sin is set as an example of how we are to forgive others.
- God’s punishment for the unforgiving slave was severe! We need to take that to heart.
God’s holiness…our filthiness. God’s complete and thorough forgiveness of our sin…turning our filthiness into purity before God. How we value our forgiveness will directly impact the way we forgive others. I almost titled this post “I’m too holy to forgive you.” We would never say that out loud, yet that’s exactly what we’re saying when we refuse to forgive someone.
Practical Implications of Forgiving
True forgiveness means you’ll continue to forgive and restore the relationship as often as necessary (Matt 18:21-22). Forgiveness is a choice. It doesn’t mean that the hurt, pain or humiliation will go away. It simply means that you’ve come to understand that your sin before a holy God is far greater than anyone’s sin against you could ever be. The king in the parable didn’t give an extension to pay the debt. He completely wiped the debt clean. This is an example to us that when we grant forgiveness, the record is clear and we will choose to not continue to bring up that sin (debt) as if it were still owed in some way.
The next time you’re tempted to grab someone by the throat and demand that they experience the pain that they’ve caused you, remember the excruciating pain, suffering, and death that Christ underwent in order to clear your debt. Will you value that payment, or will you throw it right back in God’s face?