Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22
Let’s face it. It’s hard to forgive someone. It’s even harder to forgive someone when what they have done to you seems beyond paying back. In my last article I addressed James 5:16, where it says “Confess your sins to one another.” In this article, I will focus on the other half of the process—forgiving others who have confessed a sin (or multiple sins) to you.
One example that you are probably familiar with is Joseph, in the book of Genesis. Even though his brothers threw him in a pit, sold him into slavery, and lied to their father about him being dead, Joseph still found it in his heart to forgive them. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph states, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” He had great faith in God through every situation he faced. When he first arrived in Egypt, things seemed totally hopeless. Soon, though, everything turned out to be part of God’s perfect plan for his life. Instead of the Egyptian people dying of starvation, God revealed to Joseph that his dream-interpreting was not useless at all. A whole kingdom was saved because Joseph trusted in God and was willing to follow His lead.
So many people I know take forgiveness for granted. When I or someone else apologizes to them, they shrug it off as nothing and don’t seem to truly forgive the person in their heart. The Bible implies that forgiving someone is even more important than worship! “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25-26) Wow! Forgiving others must be very crucial! In addition, Matthew 6:14-15 has similar standards: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Holding a grudge is not fun—neither for us nor for God. He loves His children, which is exactly why He wants us to forgive each other. After we forgive one another, He forgives us individually, leaving us white as snow.
You may be wondering, “What about the cross?” “Didn’t Jesus die for our sins once and for all?” “Aren’t we already forgiven?” The answer is yes—and no. Jesus died for our sins once and for all, and after we accept Him into our life, He becomes the propitiation for our sins. This means that He restores our relationship with God. Instead of looking at us through our dirty, sinful rags, God looks at us through the perfect blood of Jesus Christ, who has made us alive in Him. “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.” (Colossians 2:13) We must be accountable for the wrong things we do. We are forgiven through Jesus’s blood, but we must ask for forgiveness when we get a spot (sin) on the perfect robe He has given us.
We were saved from the penalty of sin. (Justification)
We are being saved from the power of sin. (Sanctification)
We will be saved from the presence of sin. (Glorification)
Did you know that Heather is fascinated by the moon?!?!