The Privilege and Responsibility of Forgiveness
Nothing in the Christian life is more important than forgiveness – our forgiveness of others and God’s forgiveness of us. ~ John McArthur Jr.
The concept of forgiveness is a basic privilege and responsibility in the life of a Christian. First, we understand that God forgave us for everything – past, present and future. He wanted an unspoiled, unfettered relationship with you and me so much, that He sent Jesus to pay the price for all sin for all time, and to redeem us from all guilt and condemnation. Instead, the Apostle Paul explained that… ‘[because] of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of [by] God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption’ (I Cor. 1:30).
First, He redeemed us from the curse (Gal. 3:13), the effects of the devil’s tactics and lies. Satan deceived Adam and Eve, bringing doubt and death into the world. But Jesus came so that we might have and enjoy life more abundantly (see John 10:10 AMP). To be redeemed method to regain possession in exchange for payment. Jesus provided the payment; and we became God’s kids, joint heirs with Christ. That’s one awesome transaction!
Have you seen the show, Pawn Stars? People come into the shop to get rid of stuff they no longer want. The pawn broker hopes someone will come along who is willing to redeem it. For a moment, think of yourself as an item in a pawn shop, perhaps tossed out by family members, or let go by a former boss, or rejected by someone else who hurt you. Then someone comes into the shop and sees you. That person recognizes how special you are and wants to take you home! He pays the price and you walk out with Him, free. There are no old debts to pay. This person doesn’t know your history, so you get a brand-new life with no baggage attached.
That’s what it method to be recreated in Christ Jesus! God redeemed you, and moved you into His residence. The Bible says we sit [rest, abide and dwell] ‘in heavenly places in Christ Jesus’ (Eph. 2:6).
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgives all thine iniquities; who heals all thy diseases; Who redeems thy life from destruction; who crowns thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; (Ps. 103:2-4).
In that Psalm, David reminds us of the benefits God provides. The first one he listed is forgiveness! Isn’t that amazing? We receive righteousness – right standing with God, because every interaction with Him is in Christ, of Christ and by Christ. As a redeemed, born-again child of God, He ‘remembers our sins no more’. He cast them ‘as far as the east is from the west’. His mercy and forgiveness are ‘new every morning’. Our sins, errors and mistakes are not only forgiven, they are forgotten.
God doesn’t care what we’ve done. After all, the Bible was written mostly by murderers – Moses and David in the Old Testament, the Apostle Paul in the New. He forgave them everything and guided them to become His voice to the ages!
On the Cross, while the Roman guards gambled at His feet, Jesus said, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34). Jesus chose to forgive, despite the agony in his body and mind.
Total forgiveness and redemption is the privilege of accepting life in Christ Jesus. But here’s the catch… He expects us to do the same!
Bear with each other and forgive at all event grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Col. 3:13 NIV)
No matter how personal it feels, the Bible says it – at all event ‘it’ we are dealing with, is ‘shared to man’. The temptation to shelter grudges and unforgiveness is the devil’s way of keeping us in turmoil. He sets us up to get us upset! Don’t take the bait.
I consequently beg you to reinstate him in your affections and assure him of your love for him;… to keep Satan from getting the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his wiles and intentions (2 Cor. 2:8, 11).
That verse was written by the Apostle Paul to members of the Corinthian church who had ostracized one of Paul’s fellow ministers and friends for some perceived offense. He recognized that forgiveness and love keep the devil from gaining any advantage. Satan’s intent is to keep us bound and ineffective. God promised to forgive us and set us free from any bondage – mental, physical, spiritual, financial or social. Forgiveness allows His information, His promises, to work more effectively in our lives and circumstances.
Jesus explained that affliction and persecution arise to steal the information and its strength from our lives. We become tempted to take offense (Mark 4:17). At that point, we have a choice – to nurture our hurt or our trust God for healing and restoration (v. 20).
Either way, what we continue to think and say will govern our results. Are we willing to forgive, trusting God to protect and redeem us? Or are we going to sacrifice the freedom Jesus gave us by tying ourselves to anger, hurt and unforgiveness.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, already as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Eph. 4:32).
Forgiveness is a privilege, a responsibility… and a decision. Forgiving frees us from mental and emotional anguish and turmoil. Do you think Jesus felt like saying, ‘Forgive them’ when His body was beaten beyond recognition by the very soldiers He prayed for? however, He did. Can we say, like He did, “Father, You know how hurt I am, but I’m releasing all my cares and pain to You, trusting that You can bring the redemption and healing I need. I choose to forgive that person and ask You to bring blessing and redemption into their lives too.”
God forgave us all – including the person(s) who hurt us. Now, He asks us to forgive them also, so that He is free to work in their lives, and ours. Our prayers on behalf of the offender give God a doorway to bring healing and redemption to that person’s life… and show His grace, favor and mercy in ours. What will you choose?