The Daily Encounter
“The Power to Forgive”
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Matthew 4:32 (ESV)
Forgiveness is a difficult gift to offer (and sometimes to receive). Our pride and ego tend to get in the way. We want justice not mercy ... at least when it's someone else who has messed up. So how do we overcome our more carnal instincts and choose to forgive instead?
The power to figive is found in the freedom of being forgiven. As a follower of Jesus, it is precisely because we've been forgiven by God that we are called forgive others. That's what Paul was explaining in Ephesians 4.32. God's forgiveness of us is directly tied to His command for us to do the same. One leads to the other.
1 - In forgiving us, God gives us a model, an example of what it means to forgive. He literally wipes away our spiritual debt and no longer counts our trespasses against Him. (2 Cor. 5.19) He asks us to then go and do the same.
2 - Because He has forgiven us of sooooo much, He asks us to be willing to forgive others of their far lesser offenses against us. Now if we're honest, their sin towards us may not feel small. Their unkind words, hurtful actions, and damaging choices can feel enormously painful. Yet no matter what they've done to us or someone we love, the measure of their offense pales in comparison to our sin and rebellion against a perfect and holy God.
That's the point Jesus was making in the parable of Matthew 18.21-35. The King forgave one servant of an enourmous debt yet that same servant refused to forgive a far smaller debt another servant owed him. When the King heard about it, He was furious. Why? Because the King expected the first servant to be so gratfeul for his kindness that he would extend the same generosity (albeit on a far smaller scale) to others. When he didn't, the King threw him in jail until he could pay off his debt to the King. Ouch!
So how do we apply this? What do we do with this truth?
First, embrace the forgiveness God offers us. Through faith in Christ (who He was and what He did on our behalf in His life, death, and resurrection), God releases us from our spiritual debt against Him and reconciles us with Himself. No more conflict. No more tension. No more separation. Only restoration with the God of the universe.
Second, ask yourself who you need to forgive. Is there anyone you're still bitter against? Anyone whose debt you have yet to release and let go of? Anyone who has yet to know your mercy? God is not asking us to do anything for others He has not already done in far greater degree for us! Now, He asks us to offer that same kindness to them.