What does forgiveness mean? The dictionary defines it this way: forgiving or being forgiven, inclination to forgive or pardon. Let’s see what God’s Word says. In Psalm 32:1–2 we read, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not inquity and in whose spirit there is no guile.”
I could stop, there but let’s see what else God’s Word says.
First, do you like to be blessed? God says, “Blessed is he whose sins are forgiven.” I don’t know about you, but I want all of God’s blessing. Jesus taught in Matthew 18:21–22: “Peter went to Him and said, Lord how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times. Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.” Doing the math, that equals 490 times. We sometimes have a problem with forgiving someone just one time, but Jesus said to forgive them 490 times—in other words, a continual forgiveness. No matter how often someone may offend us, Jesus said to forgive them. Then in verse: 35, Jesus says: “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses.”
When we tell someone that we forgive them, mean it. Be sincere, be kind, and most of all do it in love. God loves us and is sincere when He forgives us of our sins. How so? He sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but through Him we would be saved. We cannot obtain forgiveness by anything that we do; it is by love and acceptance of Jesus as Lord. Our works cannot save us. It’s our faith in Jesus that saves us.
By nature, we want to get revenge on someone who has mistreated us. Jesus said if someone smites us, we are to turn the other cheek. By our nature, we want to hold onto grudges and let things fester until we become even more bitter. By holding onto these feelings, it causes us to move farther away from Him. In these last days, we need to draw closer to Him. Hebrews 12:14–15, states: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord, looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”
We need to understand what bitterness and unforgiveness means. It is a trait of the ungodly. Hebrews 10:30 says, “For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord.” The Lord says He shall judge His people. God made it very clear by telling us that He—and He alone—takes vengeance. He is the only one who can judge.
When someone has transgressed against us, don’t hold it over their head. Do your best to let it go and move on. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” I realize that forgiving someone goes against our very being, but we need to lay aside our human feelings and rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us.
In Romans 8:1 we read, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.” This confirms what I have been saying: We are not to condemn people, but to forgive them. Act like Christians by following the examples that Christ has set out for us. Forgive as God has forgiven. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
If you have not invited Jesus into your life, why not do so now? He is ready and willing to forgive you of your sins. If Jesus will forgive you, then you and I need to forgive people who have transgressed against us. Will it be easy? Probably not, but with the Lord’s help we can learn to have that forgiving heart that He wants us to have.
Without Jesus’ forgiveness, we will not spend eternity with Him.