Forgiveness is a common word that we throw around in church-circles, but I think it might be good for us to ponder the beauty and depth of its Biblical meaning.
Let’s start with this... God is perfectly holy. We’re not. Every time we think or do something, or fail to do something, contrary to God’s holy character and righteous purpose, then our relationship with Him is broken. Because of His love, God made provision for our forgiveness. Since He graciously and mercifully forgives, our right relationship can be restored.
The theme of forgiveness runs the full length of the Biblical record. “The Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love ... forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7, CSB). David, the Psalmist, declares, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12, CSB). Isaiah proclaims God’s glorious forgiveness: “ ‘Come, let’s settle this,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are crimson red, they will be like wool’ ” (Isaiah 1:18, CSB) and “I sweep away your transgressions for my own sake and remember your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25, CSB). The prophet Micah says, “He will again have compassion on us; he will vanquish our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19, CSB). Jeremiah’s declaration of the New Covenant includes, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah ... For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:31,34, ESV). The New Testament promises, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9, ESV).
Did I make my point... the Bible shouts, “God forgives!”
This is amazing stuff... a Holy God forgives our unholiness! An Omniscient God can forgive and forget! It doesn’t seem logical... it doesn’t seem possible. But it is! God forgives!
And that forgiving God commands His forgiven children to forgive. “Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him” (Mark 11:25, CSB). “As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:13, ESV).
That’s hard! I tend to hold tight to my bitterness. Forgiving someone who has wronged me is not easy. But by God’s grace, He makes it possible.
Stephen illustrated forgiveness when the religious rulers “cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:58-60, ESV).
From the cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34, ESV).
We need to pray! Father, “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12, ESV)