What Forgiveness Means

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Matthew 18:21-22 ESV

We, as Christians, approach those who have sinned against us with the sentiment of grace deeply ingrained in our hearts. We forgive others because we ourselves have been forgiven.

Forgiveness is the releasing of our wrath and condemnation in favor of these things:

Forgiveness means,

  1. Praying for those who have evil intentions for you (Matthew 5:44),
  2. Abounding in love that is only possible when you really are abiding in Christ (Psalm 86:5),
  3. Never avenging yourself, but leaving it to God’s capable hand (Romans 12:18-19),
  4. Doing good to those who never do good to you (Luke 6:27-28),
  5. Watching your own life, and ensuring you’re not guilty of the sin that’s been committed against you (Luke 17:3).

Forgiveness does not mean,

  1. Feeling good about something bad that happened to you.
  2. Letting someone out of the consequences of their wrong, (ask David about sin’s devastating consequences, 2 Samuel 12),
  3. Never being disciplined by a loving Father (Hebrews 12:5-6).

While Scripture is full of stories, parables, and words about forgiveness, the heart of the matter is that it will not always be easy to forgive.

People do horrible things to one another, and sometimes genuine forgiveness isn’t going to bring about the restoration of a relationship. This is especially so if the person in the wrong is unrepentant and unwilling to change.

So, while it may be difficult to immediately forgive, we need to spend time dwelling on the fact that no matter what has been committed against us, it has been committed against God a thousand times over.

This is yet another reason why genuine biblical community is so crucial to living a Christ-centered life, because we need help remembering who God is, and in turn, who that makes those of us who are His.

Now, let us “be perfect, as [our] heavenly father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) and work towards offering forgiveness more freely.


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