“4 THings You Need to Know About Forgiveness”Categories: Christian Living, Encouragement, Joshuah Ellis, Theology
The other day my youngest (6) got angry with his brother and hit him. Shocking, right? As usual, he had to suffer through a consequence for his unwise choice and be told to “make it right.” Reluctantly, he walked to his brother and barely above a whisper said, “sorry.” Afterward, my other son responded with an unenthusiastic “I forgive you,” and they both went about their business.
Any adult, other than their parents, would have chuckled at the exchange and chalked it up to kids being kids. It was, for the most part. However, it got me thinking about what God teaches us about forgiveness. Granted, my children are young and still learning. It’s not surprising that they don’t fully grasp what it means to repent, forgive or even be forgiven. What is surprising as that many adults, Christians even, might be in the same boat. So, here are 4 things you need to know about forgiveness:
1. Forgiveness is more than saying, “It’s ok.” The Greek word that is translated into “forgiveness” in English literally means “to release” (source). In other words, when you forgive someone, you release them from whatever it was that they did to you. Make sure when you tell someone that you forgive them, that you mean it. It’s no joke, especially when we think about this in the context of God’s forgiveness of our sins.
2. Forgiveness is a choice, and then again, no it isn’t. Forgiveness is a choice in that no one can force it upon us. I can make my kids say the words, but there is nothing I could ever do to make them actually forgive one another. That being said, forgiveness is something that is commanded many times in the New Testament. Paul preached of its importance (Colossians 3:13), and Jesus taught that we cannot expect to be forgiven I we do not, in turn, forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15). In this way, we really don’t have a choice if we expect to please God.
3. Forgiveness is forever. That’s right. For. Ev. Er. If we truly think of it as a release, and we realize that we are to forgive others as God forgives us (Colossians 3:13; Matthew 6:12) and that His forgiveness is absolute (Hebrews 8:12), then we need to make sure that this is what we do as well. Smoothing over an argument only to resurrect it at a later date is not forgiveness. Holding a grudge either loudly or in silence is not forgiveness. Remember, we are to forgive AS God forgives us IF we want His forgiveness.
4. Forgiveness is not a waiting game. “I will be more than happy to forgive…as soon as ___________ apologizes.” Don’t do this. This is not representative of a godly heart at all. This is little more than manipulation. If there is an issue, it needs to be resolved. By who? It doesn’t matter. It just needs to happen. Jesus is very clear in Matthew 18:15. If you have been wronged, speak up. Sure love covers a multitude of sins, but if you are not able or willing to let it go, then don’t wait. Deal with it.
I can imagine that forgiveness can be one of the more difficult concepts in the Bible to consistently apply. However, rest assured that if God can forgive you (Romans 5:8), you can forgive anyone.