Forgive As the Lord Forgave You

by Scarlett Stough

For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: Forgive Us Our Sins.

For any relationship to be sustained and deepened into love, forgiveness is essential. When we've been deeply hurt and disappointed, forgiveness seems impossible for us to give. The closer a person is to us emotionally the more difficult we often find forgiveness toward them to be.

To be able to forgive each other, we have to realize the destructive nature of sin (the wrong done) and how much we ourselves need forgiveness. If we think to ourselves, "I'm pretty good; I don’t steal from my neighbors or rob banks; I obey the traffic laws; I do all my church says I should do to be a good Christian" then we fail to see the immensity of our failure to be who God created us to be—created in his image.

On the surface, we can appear to others to be decent folk while inside we fester with pride and contempt for others. The ability to forgive others from the heart comes only from knowing our own sins are just as great as theirs.

When people have had family members murdered especially in a particularly cruel fashion, the grief is so deep, forgiveness not only seems impossible, but also, unjust. The victims want justice. We know the cost of forgiveness when it becomes impossible to give it. Forgiveness requires an impossible debt to be wiped off the books.

The Creator God knew from the beginning, mortal man would not consistently choose to do good. He knew from the beginning he would pay the penalty for every sin every person has committed. There could be no justice without the penalty of death being executed. There could be no mercy allowing sinful man to return to God in a new relationship unless we understood the relationship was broken by our unwillingness to trust him, to trust in his love and wisdom. Every time we sin—do the wrong thing according to God's standard—we are demonstrating our distrust of God knowing what is best for us.

Before we can forgive, we have to seek and receive God's forgiveness. Each one must look at the Suffering Messiah, Jesus the Christ, on the cross and acknowledge "I killed the Son of God, the Anointed One, by my lack of faith leading to my disobedience and sentence of death." But God loves each of us, so he took that penalty which he did not earn upon himself. Some either see this reality as "foolishness" or as a "stumbling block" to belief in a real God and a real Savior, who came from God to live as a man and suffer execution for us so we do not have to die eternally.

Once we have accepted Jesus' atonement personally and begin to live a life renewed in relationship of faith with God, then we can live with a clear conscience free of feelings of guilt and shame and with a certain hope of resurrection to eternal life with God.

Every time we participate in the cup of the covenant and the bread of his broken body, we are rededicating ourselves to remembering the cost for our pardon. Each spring we remember Jesus life, death, burial and resurrection so that we do not take our new life in Christ for granted, slipping back into a life apart from a relationship with God.

Because we accept God's forgiveness, we can now do as the Scripture says, "Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you" (Colossians 3:13).

Volume 17 Issue 01 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation |

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