“I, only I, am He who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins. ISAIAH 43:25 AMP
Forgiveness–something gladly received yet often difficult to give. Nevertheless, although forgiving someone is often easier said than done, forgiveness of others is an important aspect of our walk with Him, for forgiveness of sin is what Jesus accomplished on the cross.
As we embark on embracing forgiveness, we must keep in mind a couple of things. First, God alone is the only one capable of wiping away our sins. We as humans do not have the capability to alter someone’s eternal destiny. Whether or not we choose to forgive someone does not affect whether that person goes to heaven or hell. It’s that person’s relationship with Jesus that determines his destiny. This is what made the religious leaders so upset when Jesus told the paralytic his sins were forgiven. By saying such a thing Jesus was putting Himself in God’s position. Obviously He was right and justified, but the leaders of the time did not believe nor understand.
Second, God forgives us because He paid the penalty for us. God didn’t forgive us because we earned it. God didn’t forgive us because we deserved it. He forgave us for His own sake. He made us, loved us, and wanted to fellowship with us. Yet a holy God cannot fellowship with sin. Thus He sent Jesus. Forgiveness came through the cleansing blood of the spotless lamb of God.
So how does this the above information relate to forgiving others? Well, one way we show our understanding and gratitude for what God has done is to provide that same grace to those around us. No, this will not affect their destiny, but it will affect our hearts. In Matthew 18, Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive those who sin against him. Jesus’ reply was in essence, “always.” He then told the parable of the wicked servant. In the parable, the wicked servant, after being forgiven of much, refused to give grace to another who owed far less than he. This lack of grace revealed an unrepentant heart. And the wicked servant paid dearly for it. The parable doesn’t describe what happens to the servant who had owed far less, but I don’t think that matters, because the point of the story is to explain that we are to forgive as we are forgiven. No, this doesn’t save others, but it does show our gratefulness for what God has done for us.
Even Jesus’ model prayer in Matthew 6 contains the prayer that we will forgive others as we have been forgiven. Jesus even expounds on this concept right after that prayer with the following:
For if you forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses.
MATTHEW 6:14-15 AMP
Forgiving or not forgiving affects our relationship with God. To not forgive reveals an ungrateful heart. It also implies we think we have more authority than God. For we must remember all sin, whether done to us, by us, or around us, is ultimately sin against God alone. We may be hurt by someone’s sin, but the only one with the authority to judge that person is God. And God sent Jesus to die for all sins–all of them–even sins that hurt us. If He forgives each of us; then He will forgive the one who hurts us as well. To harbor unforgiveness does more than hurt the earthly relationship separated by sin; it also negatively impacts our relationship with God in heaven. For unforgiveness is sin; and sin separates.
Therefore, I encourage all of us today–me included–to forgive and to show grace to all those around us. No one is perfect. All will be judged. Therefore, let’s do our best now to walk in love and grace and encouragement. This isn’t always easy. Depending on the offense, it could initially appear downright impossible. But praise be to God what is impossible with man is more than possible with God.
So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy [set apart, sanctified for His purpose] and well-beloved [by God Himself], put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience [which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper]; bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive. Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others].
COLOSSIANS 3:12-14 AMP