The Faithfulness of Forgiveness

The Faithfulness of Forgiveness

August 2017

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

I don’t know what it is about growing up with brothers and sisters, but it often seemed like we fought pretty much every day. Perhaps it had something to do with sin and total depravity, I don’t know. There is one thing I know without a doubt; I almost never felt like forgiving my mortal enemies I called “siblings.” The fighting, getting caught, and having to go through the whole bit where you have to say sorry and ask for forgiveness was so routine. I could grant “forgiveness” through gritted teeth and give my little brother a hug when he really deserved justice in the form of a few swift spankings. I remember thinking how it felt wrong to grant forgiveness to someone who didn’t deserve it, but little did I know that my parents were training us for big kid life lessons at a young age. Now I could go on and on about forgiveness just like I’m going on and on with this paragraph, but for your sake and mine, I just want to simply examine three aspects of biblical forgiveness that have been circulating in my thoughts of late.

  • Forgiveness originates from God – One of the first things that strikes me about forgiveness is that like all things truly holy, it flows from the thrice Holy God. (Nehemiah 9:17, Psalm 86:5) God demonstrates His forgiveness of those who do not deserve it through His immeasurable grace and compassion. (Daniel 9:9) What likely first comes to mind when contemplating God’s forgiveness is the eternal hope of salvation guaranteed to all whom Christ has saved. This salvation from sin’s capital punishment is made possible through God’s forgiveness and justification by Christ’s blood. (Titus 3:5-7) This may not be some new revelation of truth to many of us, but recognizing God as the giver of all forgiveness is pivotal for us to understand if we are to extend forgiveness to others.
  • Forgiveness directly affects our relationship with God – At Jr. High Summer Camp where forgiveness just happened to be the theme of the entire week, we learned about Lifestyle Forgiveness; forgiveness that permeates every aspect of our life and is seen through how we forgive others. The Word of God is clear; if we forgive others, the Lord forgives us. If we do not forgive others, the Lord does not forgive us. (Matthew 6:14-15) It’s here that Christ Jesus is referring to the Father’s relational forgiveness which is conditional upon the forgiveness we demonstrate to others, not to be confused with the judiciary forgiveness we receive in Christ. Glory be to God that those who have put their faith in Christ are eternally secure and stand justified in God’s courtroom by the righteousness not our own! (Philippians 3:9, Colossians 1:13-14) All that being said, forgiveness becomes a serious matter in the life of every child of God; especially when it comes to prayer and worship before the Lord. (Mark 11:25) This truth has caused me to examine my heart and ask the Lord to expose any area of my life where I may not be extending forgiveness to someone, so that I may be cleansed from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
  • Forgiveness is faithful obedience to the Lord – Going back to the example of my rambunctious childhood, I now get what my parents were trying to teach us; forgiveness is not about how we feel towards the other person no matter how bad they have wronged us. Forgiveness is not determined by my subjective opinion of a person’s worthiness. Forgiveness is faithful obedience to the Lord. (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:12-13.) He has commanded us to forgive, and to do so continually, regardless of whether or not the offender deserves it. (Matthew 18:21-22, Luke 17:3-4) Joseph understood forgiveness rightly when he forgave his brothers. (Genesis 50:19-21)

This last year has been a very big life lesson on forgiveness for my family, and I know that our body here at RBC has experienced this same testing of faith. Some may still be hurting, and struggling with forgiveness in one way or another. I know I am. There are certainly times when I need to be reminded of God’s forgiveness and choose to forgive over and over. But God is so faithful. He has proven Himself so good in this last year. I want to finish with an encouragement to anyone who struggles with forgiveness. Believe in the Word of the Lord and demonstrate your trust in His Word on forgiveness by choosing to forgive. Forgiveness begins when you submit to the Lord in faithful obedience.

In His Unfailing Love,

Austen Taylor

God’s Word on Worship

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
(Psalm 19:14)