Bible Reading: Psalm 103:8-14
[The Lord] has not punished us for all our sins, nor does he deal with us as we deserve. Psalm 103: 10
HALF OF understanding forgiveness is knowing what it isn’t. More on that next time. The other half is knowing exactly what it is. Check out these definitions-at least one of them will make sense to you:
Forgiveness means “to erase, to forego what is due” … “to give up resentment”… “to wipe the slate dean, to release from a debt, to cancel punishment” … “to personally accept the price of reconciliation” … “to give up all claims on the one who has hurt you and let go of the emotional consequences of that hurt.” Forgiveness not only means you say the words “I forgive you” but that you also let go of your wounded emotions.
Forgiving is an action. It doesn’t allow you to sit around and wait for the person who walloped you to say, “I was wrong; will you forgive me?” Just as Jesus died for you while you were still a sinner (see Romans 5:8), forgiving means you take the first step in healing a relationship.
Forgiving also means you “give up or give away.” It means you give up the right to get even-no matter how good revenge would feel. Forgiving means you give mercy instead of demanding justice.
If you don’t like that approach to life, ponder this: It wouldn’t be smart to pray for justice in your relationship with God, because his justice would wipe you out. What you want to ask for is his mercy, the stuff that allows you to be forgiven in spite of your sin.
It works the same way in your human relationships. The world tells you to hate. God says to love. The world says you are entitled to revenge. God says to forgive.
Why? Because God wants you to forgive in the same way he forgives you-completely and continually. To the Colossians, Paul wrote, “God has purchased our freedom with his blood and has forgiven all our sins” (verse 1:14). In Hebrews 10, we discover that Christ’s forgiveness was “once for all time” (verse 10). Once he had offered himself as the sacrifice for sin, “he sat down at the place of highest honor at God’s right hand” (verse 12).
God doesn’t forgive you because of something you’ve done but because of who Jesus Christ is and what he accomplished for you through the cross. That’s your model for forgiving others. You don’t forgive because the person who hurt you has changed or begged for your forgiveness, but because you have a Christlike readiness to simply forgive.
REFLECT: Are you a forgiving person?
PRAY: Ask Christ to share his heart of forgiveness with you today.