What is forgiveness?
True forgiveness is not just saying sorry!! Forgiveness is to include penitence and also a desire never to do that same thing again. Forgiveness of course is a major part of Christianity, both in the way that God forgives when approached in penitence and repentance, but also in the way Christians forgive others and themselves! In both giving and receiving forgiveness, consider Jesus Christ and the enormity of His forgiveness. Paul writes in Colossians 3v12-14 that forgiveness is part of the being in God’s family of Christians! If God forgave you for all that you have done wrong, then you also should forgive others, regardless of how difficult that might be to do. Nobody said it would always be easy though! Forgiveness enables you to have the same openness toward the person after they offend you, as you did before the event – if not more! When you truly forgive the person who has wronged you, any hurt you have will diminish.
Receiving and Giving Forgiveness
But why do we need to both receive and give forgiveness? Apart from being commanded to, a vast number of emotional and psychological problems are caused by failure to either give or to receive forgiveness.
- There is a failure to receive forgiveness. Many people try to pay for their sin by trying to punish themselves for they’re past sins. These people should let go, because God has forgiven them, just as they asked!
- There is a failure to give forgiveness. When forgiveness is not offered to a person who has done you wrong, bitterness, resentment and anger may spring up in your life. There are parents who hurt; siblings who fail; and close friends who betray and reject. Yet forgive is the command, and it can only be done as the Holy Spirit and His power is relied upon.
By receiving and giving forgiveness, you will find an ability to love God more and love others more openly. Don’t let bitter unforgiveness destroy you and others, but rather let love & forgiveness build and strengthen.
God and Forgiveness
God’s ultimate concern is your holiness and not just your happiness, as you are transformed into the image of Jesus Christ! God is concerned not just about what is happening to you, but also what you are learning and how you are responding in His workshop of life, as you are being transformed. This involves both giving and receiving forgiveness.
Tests to see if there is someone I need to forgive
- Resentment test – Is there anyone you resent?
- Responsibility test – Do you find yourself thinking, “If only this other person or persons had done this, things would have been different!” and therefore blaming others?
- Reminder/reaction test – Do you find yourself reacting negatively against a person because they remind you of someone else?
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