One of the things I am most thankful for is God’s mercy. When I think about how God gave his only son to die for my sins, I am overcome with gratitude. Jesus Christ died for all sins of all people who believe in him! Isn’t that amazing? In Psalms 108:12, David says, “ as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us”. God forgives us and removes the guilt of our sins. We do not have to carry the burdens of our past sins. We can live in peace, knowing we are set free of our sins.
The Bible gives 3 simple steps to forgiveness. First, we must CONFESS our sins. This means that we must admit to God what we did, acknowledging that it was wrong. No matter how big or small, God will forgive us. Next, we must REPENT of our sin. This means that we must tell God that we are truly sorry for what we did. Repenting includes turning away from the sin and making an effort not to repeat the same sin. Finally, we must ASK God for forgiveness. The Bible sums up these steps in 1 john 1:9, “ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”.
In our spiritual journeys, all of us have sinned against God and have been in need of forgiveness. We have also hurt or wronged others, whether intentional or not. I can recall a painful time when I made a decision that really hurt a friend. It was unintentional, but her feelings were hurt and she did not think she would be able to forgive me. I apologized, repented, and prayed. She was hurt, angry, and offended. Eventually, she forgave me. I think my friend was able to forgive me because I was truly repentant. I will never forget the relief and thankfulness that washed over me when we hugged and cried and she forgave me. I needed her forgiveness. I remember thinking that “this is what true forgiveness looks like “. I have never forgotten my friend’s kindness and forgiveness towards me. Her act of forgiveness showed me the love of Christ. It released me from the guilt I felt and freed me . It has since caused me to forgive others who have wronged me.
I think we can all agree that we want God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of those we have wronged. Why then, is it so hard to forgive others who have offended us, disappointed us, or let us down? Why is it hard to extend the grace that we seek? One of the best examples of what the Bible tells us to do in this situation is the servant and the master in Matthew 18:21-35. There is a servant who owes a debt to the master. The master forgives the debt. The servant who has just been pardoned of his debt, goes to his debtors and has them thrown into jail until the debt is paid. This reminds me of myself at times. I make mistakes. I want to be forgiven by God and by the people I hurt. Yet, I hold onto the hurt and offenses others have done to me. The words of the master in Matthew 18: 32-33 are a powerful reminder of our call to forgive others…”I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant just as I have had on you?”
The most compelling reason for us to forgive is because God commands us to do so. We are reminded of this in Mark 11: 25-26 where the Bible tells us that if we do not forgive, our Father in heaven will not forgive us. Forgiveness also frees us from the emotional weight of the pain and allows us to sleep better at night. It shows grace to others and is an example of God’s love. It also helps us to appreciate the forgiveness we have been given.
Sometimes, forgiving someone can be extremely difficult. However, holding on to the pain they caused us only multiplies our anger and bitterness. So, the next time someone wrongs you, go ahead…..Choose To Forgive!
Natalie loves God and her family. She is a mother of two wonderful children and a physician assistant at Marietta Plastic Surgery. She enjoys exercise, reading and spending time with friends. She has a beautiful smile and a kind heart.