Recently I asked someone why they wouldn’t forgive a particular person. The person who had offended them had repented and asked for forgiveness, but still this person refused to forgive. When I asked why, the reply was: “Because I could tell they weren’t sincere. They really aren’t sorry, so they don’t deserve to be forgiven.”
Is that what Jesus says? Hardly. “If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matt. 6:15)” Only those who truly recognize their own sin and the price Jesus paid for them to be forgiven can forgive those who sinned against them. (At least we hope so.) Forgiveness is hard, but so is reaping the results of not forgiving.
Every one of us who has experienced God’s forgiveness is called to extend His love and forgiveness to others. He gives us grace to show grace to others. He pours His love in us to love like He does. Often people say they’ve forgiven when they really haven’t. They’ll say over and over: “Yes, I’ve forgiven them.” And then they tack on: “I just don’t want to have anything to do with them.” If they were really honest, they would admit that secretly they’d like to see that person pay a price for what they did.
Every one of us who has experienced God’s forgiveness is called to extend His love and forgiveness to others. He gives us grace to show grace to others.
Thankfully, that’s not how God forgives us. When He forgives us, He wipes the slate clean and treats us like we never committed the act. He doesn’t keep a record of it to bring up at some future time. What’s more, Jesus doesn’t just forgive—He restores what was lost.
When we forgive others as Jesus commands us to, we receive healing. He takes away the pain of the offense. To have the forgiveness worked in and through us, we must do the following:
1. Pray for God to bless the one who hurt you, however He sees fit.
2. Willingly choose to be a channel of God’s love flowing from you to them.
3. Desire to see that person healed, restored and serving again in the call God has on their life.
In John 21:15-17, Jesus gives us His example of true forgiveness. Jesus’ dear friend and disciple Peter had to face the fact that he denied Christ—not once, but— 3 times. Now, after His resurrection, Jesus confronts Peter:
“Simon son of John, do you love Me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love Me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time He said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love Me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love Me?”
He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
Interesting, isn’t it, that Peter denies Jesus 3 times, then Jesus gives Peter 3 chances to reaffirm his love for Him. Jesus is making a point here. No matter how many times we fall and deny Him, He’s there to pick us up, forgive and restore us.
Neither His forgiveness nor our service to Him depends on us. Rather, it has everything to do with what Jesus has done for us. He’s a God of restoration! And His instruction to us is the same as that He gave to Peter: “Follow Me.” As followers of Christ, we’re to keep following Him and modeling His behavior—especially in forgiving others. Yes, forgive, even though it is hard and comes with a cost.
Share your Heart: What would it cost you to follow Jesus’ example and forgive someone who is hard to forgive?