by Gini Crawford, MSW
posted 12/21/2016, revised 5/19/2018
In this daily devotional on forgiveness we are going to look at forgiveness from many different angles. I will answer questions such as: What is the most undeserved forgiveness? Why and how do we forgive as Christians? How is forgiving misunderstood? How important is forgiveness to our well-being and health? Why is not forgiving a sin? How do we ask for forgiveness?
What does forgiveness mean from God's perspective? To forgive or to be forgiving means to not keep account of wrongs, to send forth, let go from oneself. Forgiving also has the idea of treating the offending person graciously, with kindness, love (1 Corinthians 13:5).
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32 NASB®
Don't misunderstand forgiveness from the Bible: Some people think if they forgive, they are saying, what the person did was acceptable. That is not what forgiveness means. When you forgive someone, you make the choice to give up your desire to get back at the person, and to let go of your anger towards the person (Proverbs 16:32; James 1:19-20). You also stop judging the person who caused you the hurt. Instead of revenge, anger, and judgment, you show grace and kindness. (Luke 6:35-38; Romans 12:17-21). In other words, the guilty person may not deserve forgiveness, but it's an act of kindness on your part to forgive (Ephesians 4:32). When you forgive, you are not condoning the person's sinful action, but you are letting it go from yourself. When you forgive someone, it doesn't mean the person won't experience the consequences from their behavior.
An inspiring story of what Biblical forgiveness does: My friend's son assaulted someone at a bar. The victim graciously forgave my friend's son for the assault, but he was still convicted for the crime and went to prison for 3 years. Forgiveness does bring healing and restoration. My friend's son was humbled over being forgiven, made a decision to follow Jesus, and got his Associate Degree in prison. He now has a wonderful family and owns a successful small business.
Last but not at all the least: we are forgiven by God when we believe in Jesus Christ (Acts 10:43). This is because Jesus paid the penalty for all of our sins when He died on the cross. Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was an act of love, grace and kindness toward us (who were God's enemies) that resulted in God forgiving all of our sins (Micah 7:18-19; Romans 5:8-10). None of us deserved God's undeserved forgiveness. So when other people don't deserve forgiveness, we need to forgive them, appreciating we have been forgiven without strings attached too.
John 8 is about the woman caught in adultery. Read John 8:1-11. Would you have picked up a stone and thrown it at her? Or would you have forgiven her? Jesus probably was writing the sins of everyone around Him in the sand, to remind them that they are sinners too. We need to keep in mind we all are sinners needing forgiveness. This thought helps me to forgive others. How about you?