Forgiveness is central to being a Christ-follower. We can’t give what we have not received. And so many sincere Christ-followers have a hard time with forgiveness, because they struggle with one or more critical steps in God’s process.
The following steps to forgiveness are essential to be able to live in a world that continually requires us to seek Christ’s forgiveness, and grant it to ourselves and others.
Step 1: Humbly ask Christ for forgiveness for any and all sins; be specific and remorseful.
Step 2: Give Christ a commitment to strive to not sin again; be determined and hopeful.
Step 3: Accept the generous forgiveness from Christ; be grateful and relieved.
Step 4: Grant forgiveness to ourselves with the forgiveness of Christ; be compassionate.
Step 5: Grant others forgiveness in the same way it was received from Christ; be graceful.
GOD’S WORD ON FORGIVENESS
Here are six quick points to inspire us to fully embrace forgiveness:
- God’s Forgiveness to Us: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15) These words spoken by Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount emphasize the reciprocal nature of forgiveness. Just as God graciously forgives our transgressions, we are also called to forgive those who transgress against us.
- The Call to Forgive Repeatedly: “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” (Matthew 18:21-22) Jesus, in this dialogue with Peter, expands on the nature of forgiveness. We are not to keep count but rather to continue forgiving, reflecting the boundless forgiveness of God.
- The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant: “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35) Jesus shares a parable about a servant forgiven for a huge debt but who then refuses to forgive a smaller debt owed to him. The message is clear: having been recipients of God’s vast forgiveness, we have no right to withhold forgiveness from others.
- Forgiving from the Heart: “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25) True forgiveness stems from the heart. It is not just a mere utterance of words but a deep-rooted decision to release resentment and anger.
- The Prodigal Son: A Tale of Forgiveness and Reconciliation: “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet… For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So, they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:22-24) The story of the prodigal son offers a profound insight into God’s forgiving nature. No matter how far we stray, God’s arms remain open, ready to forgive and celebrate our return.
- Forgiveness and Salvation: “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’” (Luke 23:34) Even on the cross, amidst excruciating pain, Jesus exemplified forgiveness by praying for those who crucified Him. This act underscores the inseparable link between forgiveness and the salvation story.
Forgiveness is integral to being a Christ-follower. As recipients of God’s immeasurable grace, we must extend that same grace and forgiveness to others. Embracing forgiveness leads to transformed lives, mended relationships, and a deeper understanding of God’s love for humanity.
May we all fully embrace Christ’s forgiveness.
Your aspiring servant,
August 27, 2023
POSTSCRIPT: Dear friends, if this daily, transparent “Conversations with Christ” blesses you, please go to www.SOLIDpastors.org, where you will find these posted, and a repository of all, in English and Spanish. Note: For ease of reference, all scriptures quoted are from the NIV.
If you ever want to chat, you can reach me at Daniel@SOLIDpastors.org. May Christ bless you richly as you have your own intimate, daily conversations with Christ.