Before we can understand how to forgive, we need to understand the biblical definition of forgiveness and what we’re getting into. You need to know what you’re committing to before you commit!
The biblical definition of forgiveness is “an act of pardon.”
Forgiveness originated with God and was created by God. Hebrews 9:22 states, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Blood is our life source. It is how we live and breathe. When Jesus shed His blood for us on the cross, He in turn gave us His very breath, His very life, as a payment for our sins. He set the ultimate example of forgiveness. Take in the following words and allow them to penetrate into dividing your bone marrow…
When you withhold forgiveness from another person, you are taking for granted the precious blood of Christ, as well as disqualifying yourself from being the recipient of His forgiveness. (Matthew 6:15)
You are not only called to give pardon to the sinful, but to give pardon to any and all sin.
As humans, we like to set a “sin scale” in order to be more socially accepted.
We want to stand in judgment of the person who has committed murder, but we have no problem spending all day gabbing on the phone to our girlfriends, spreading rumors and causing dissension in other friendships. Reality check my friend—Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross for all sin!He bled and died for the “not that bad,” the “pretty bad,” and the “really bad.”
If you find yourself tempted to categorize a particular sin in your life or in the lives of others, and if you are finding it difficult to believe that you are called by God to forgive, allow Matthew 6:14–15 to hit your face like a bucket of cold water.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
This verse of Scripture is a startling reminder that when we refuse to forgive others, we are denying our common ground as sinners. We are dismissing the fact that we are just as in need of forgiveness as the next person. It is so easy for us to ask God to forgive us…yet so difficult for us to grant forgiveness to others.
Why? It all comes back to the deadliest of sins I mentioned earlier—pride.
We will always have a hard time extending forgiveness as long as we believe that we deserve an “I’m sorry” from the other side. In fact, believing that you deserve anything is still making it about you. And the truth is, with genuine, biblically grounded forgiveness, there is no room for you.
I have talked with many different individuals who truly believe they have forgiven the one who has hurt them. (Please note, simply saying the words, “You are forgiven,” does not necessarily mean you have bestowed genuine forgiveness). To forgive by the biblical standard, you must embrace every aspect of the word.
You must truly pardon the individual who has sinned against you.
When true forgiveness has taken place, you should notice a complete change in the relationship between you and the one you have forgiven. This change does not mean you have forgotten the past offense but that you no longer continue to dwell on the offense. Forgiveness is a promise from you to the offender that you will not raise this issue again. (By the way, brooding in the privacy of your bedroom, or sending an “anonymous” letter, is in direct violation of this promise!)
Also remember, forgiveness is granted first, but not necessarily felt.
This is why forgiveness is not always about your feeling, but rather about your desire to be more like Christ. It might make you feel better to know that even the disciples had a difficult time comprehending this. In Luke 17:5 they proclaim, “Increase our faith!” In other words, “Help us out, Lord!”
They, too, needed the Lord to grant them the faith to extend this radical forgiveness!
Excerpt from Named by God.