Forgiveness is, of course, one of the distinguishing characteristics of Christianity.
Summary: God initiates contact with humans (Gal. 1:4; 2 Cor. 5:19; Rom. 9:23-26) and forgives sins through the death of Jesus (Rom. 3:21-26; 4:25; Mark 10:45; Gal. 1:4; Acts 13:38). God’s forgiveness is variously described as justification, salvation, and reconciliation.
In the NT several points are made clear. One is that the forgiven sinner must forgive others. This is manifest in Lk. 6:37, cited above, in the Lord’s Prayer, and in other places. A readiness to forgive others is part of the indication that we have truly repented. Moreover, it is to be whole-hearted. It springs from Christ’s forgiveness of us, and it is to be like Christ’s forgiveness: ‘as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive’ (Col. 3:13). Several times Christ insists on the same thing, as in his parable of the unmerciful servant (Mt. 18:23-35). New Bible Dictionary, Third Edition:II.
But here is the deal… It is a whole lot easier to receive forgiveness FROM others than to extend it TO others. Why? We are “hard wired” to have this mindset: “mercy for me and justice for you”. We have a tendency to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt even when we shouldn’t.
When I forgive others (for both big and small) I still remember the offense…and it creeps back into my mind…then gets back into my heart….then I relive the offense and I am right back holding them culpable for their “crime”. I say to myself that I should “forgive and forget” (which is not biblical by the way) but the struggle seems to keep coming back. Then I have a full-blown GRUDGE on my hands. (FYI: I get that others have had to forgive me a lot more than I have had to forgive them)
Paul Burlison says it this way, “Human forgiveness is always followed by a comma and not a period”. In other words I can forgive someone today and have to consciously “re-forgive” them tomorrow, and the next day and the next day and the……… each time I do I get a little bit closer to completely forgiving them.
Forgiveness is both a DECISION and a PROCESS. I decide to forgive and the process begins.
Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
- Deal with your grudge Honestly – don’t deny it because “Christians don’t hold grudges”. If ya have one deal with it!
- Deal with your grudge Completely – keep extending forgiveness until you are totally over it. (you will know you are almost past it when you can pray honestly for God to bless your offender)
- Deal with your grudge Often. Grudges can fester if they are not brought up (in a healthy way) and exposed in the Light of God’s forgiveness.