What is forgiveness and do we have to forgive?
Forgiveness is dismissing or canceling a debt.Itis dismissing your demand that others owe you something. You are setting them free from the consequence of falling short of God’s standard of perfection. He is Holy and we all have sinned.
When you choose to forgive you’re making the critical choice of releasing your right to hear “I’m sorry”. You may also have to give up your right to get even. Instead, you’re choosing to completely let go of your resentment, bitterness, and anger as God in Christ forgave you. This is true forgiveness.When you choose to forgive, you're making the critical choice to give up your right to hear "I'm Sorry". #Sorry #forgive Click To Tweet
Why we forgive.
As I reflect on the above definition I can’t help but notice that this website and the podcast is as much about myself as it is for other church leaders.
Whether we are forgiving members in our church, past or present, forgiving our family members, forgiving ourselves or accepting other people’s forgiveness the whole process of forgiveness is not an easy thing to do. Ministers of the gospel are required to teach on forgiveness. But all too often, ministers are brought in to mediate between people and they might not fully understand what the Bible says about this crucial topic.
I’ve noticed over the years that the subject of forgiveness is not given the attention it deserves.
Think about it…
If God had not forgiven us there would be no Salvation.
If Jesus had not shed His blood by dying for us on the cross there would be no remission of sins.
Before tackling this project, it’s very important, first of all, understand that before we preach or teach forgiveness, all of us have been forgiven. As long as we have given our lives to Christ Jesus, we have been forgiven.
Those who have not yet given their lives to Christ can only access true forgiveness by accepting the work of Jesus on the cross. The word of God
” All have sinned and fall short of the glory ofRomans 3:23
Christ Jesus had to intervene and offer Himself as the sacrifice for our sins so that our forgiveness would take place. Without that, we would be lost forever, eternally separated from God.Without the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, we would be lost forever, eternally separated from God. #forgive Click To Tweet
What The Bible says about forgiveness.
A good interpretation of Ephesians 4:32 or Colossians 3:13 sets the course for understanding forgiveness according to the word of God. These two verses give us a great starting point and provide the foundation and justification for the choice we are expected to make. These two scriptures are almost the same, but I’ll stick with Ephesians 4: 32
“Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you.”EPHESIANS 4:32 AMP
These keywords are essential in knowing and teaching biblical forgiveness. We have been forgiven by God in Christ Jesus alone. Our forgiveness (access) has already happened. We are to forgive ‘as’ Christ already forgave us.
God forgave us because Jesus paid for our debt in full without asking for repayment from us. Our Heavenly Father gave us the free gift of eternal life without our effort.
Christ took to the grave the past, present and future sins of all who would accept His sacrifice. When He rose on the third-day forgiveness had taken place. It was done! And, whosoever believes in and accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, accepts that He was the full payment for all our sins.
Now there’s an expectation, you must also understand that we are to forgive others as God forgave each of us, in Christ Jesus. Such a person, when wronged, must be readily and freely be prepared to forgive others as Christ forgave them. Such a person must also be ready to lead others to forgiveness.Christ took to the grave the past, present and future sins of all who would accept His sacrifice. Click To Tweet
Forgiveness is a choice.
God gives forgiveness to us freely. But, without our effort, biblical forgiveness doesn’t happen. It is always our choice. It is a decision you have to make.
Your pastor cannot make you do it. It’s ultimately up to you. You have to want to do it for yourself. Forgiveness is a decision you must choose.
As ministry leaders, we all have to make this choice for ourselves. In every situation where God calls us to forgive, the choice is always there.
The Holy Spirit always gives you the nudge: “forgive them and let it go”. The thought enters our minds and it’s our responsibility to make the decision.
You might have heard people say that forgiveness isn’t a feeling, it’s a choice. That statement is correct. These two must not be mixed up. Thinking of Forgiveness leads to a feeling, – often conviction. When you act upon that feeling and then choose to forgive, it tends to result in a sense of peace,
Forgiveness happens in your mind
The actual act of forgiving plays out in the mind. The thought “I forgive … causes you to feel at peace with your decision and from there you can release the bitterness, anger, resentment and your demand upon others. All of this happens in your mind. When you do this, you are using the mind of Christ within you.
Here’s what happens when you think about all the things other people have done to you. The moment you think about that offense, it’s like a movie on ‘continuous play’. It will just loop around in your head over and over again on repeat.
In order to get off the loop, you have to deliberately push the stop button by making a choice that says, I’m not going to dwell on this anymore. The actual thought of forgiving then comes to us when we remind ourselves that perfect grace and mercy was extended to us by God.
God gave us His unending perfect love. He forgave us when we did not deserve the grace and mercy, therefore, we have the freedom and ability to forgive as He forgave us in Christ.God gave us His unending perfect love. He forgave us when we didn't deserve the grace and mercy. Now, we have the freedom and ability to forgive as well. Click To Tweet
Here’s the biggest challenge. When you truly forgive, you’re dismissing your right to hear ‘i am sorry” and you’re no longer trying to settle the score or get even. In order to do this, you’ve got to remind yourself to ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.
How would you want to be treated if you did the same thing?
Now, upon first reflection you might think, you would accept full justice, that’s fair. But is it true?
We must always remember that as we are all human and have sinned. Do you want to pay the full penalty of your sins? Unless you are prepared to embrace eternal damnation, you must
Don’t Deny Him By Your Actions.
Man and women of God are vulnerable to carrying unforgiveness in their hearts for years. When we refused to forgive those who left our church to start another church, or who gossiped about us, or who offended us in some way, we are living in unforgiveness. There is resentment, pain, and anger in our hearts. As pastors and ministers fight over church members and sometimes church property we are doing damage to the body of Christ.
Competition over earthly things has risen to an all-time high as one church leader tries to outdo the other. Unkind words have been spoken against the ‘big givers’ who left the church for another. All of a sudden they now carry negative adjectives they never had before. How does one freely and accurately teach forgiveness while withholding it from others?
We say the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…’ but do we mean it? If God forgave us the way we are forgiving others, what would our lives and ministries look like?
As I conclude my first post, I want to leave you with this question.
Are you withholding forgiveness?
Paul encourages us in the book of Romans;
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another “Romans 13:8
What do our accounts look like before God? Are we showing others the same level of kindness, mercy, and forgiveness that God himself has shown us? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.
If you know in your heart that your account isn’t balanced, and you want to fix it, but you’re not sure how to, stay tuned!
I’m going to be going covering this essesntial topic in depth, exploring different stories and situations to help you make this critical choice.
Lovingson Mtongwiza is a pastor and Christian life coach specializing in the art of forgiveness.