By Russ Cripps
Ephesians 4:32 And be kind one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.
Ephesians 4.32 Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
A woman summoned for jury duty said to the Judge, “Your Honor, I can’t serve on a jury. I don’t believe in capital punishment.” The judge said, “Ma’am, this isn’t a capital charge so that doesn’t matter. This is a case where a husband emptied out the wife’s savings account of $14,000 to take a three-day weekend with his girlfriend in Atlantic City.” The woman said, “Okay, I’ll serve. And, I could be wrong about capital punishment.”
Have you ever heard the statement, “I will forgive, but I’ll never forget?” That statement really doesn’t stand up well when compared to this passage of text. I mean, isn’t that the whole point of forgiveness, to move on past the infraction to the point where we don’t hold it against the person any longer? In order to forgive, we must understand two things—first, through repentance, Christ has forgiven us. We’ve simply got to keep in mind how much Christ has forgiven us. Repentance is huge. Peter declares it’s the first step towards salvation (Acts 2).
Secondly, we are forgiven by God in proportion to our forgiveness of others. This is covered in Matthew 6:14-15, but read at your own risk because it’s pretty hardcore. As you read this, be mindful of one thing—if Christ was as stingy with His forgiveness as we are with ours, we’d all be in a horrible bind! He has forgiven us so we could also forgive others. By filling us with His Spirit, He abides deep inside us to help conquer that prideful mountain we climb in order for us to forgive one another.
I could write a book on forgiveness alone. I’ll never be able to adequately express my gratitude for what God has done for me. I have been forgiven of much. Believe me; it’s easier for you to read those words, than it is for you to fully understand-I have been forgiven of MUCH. Deeds I’m ashamed of, actions I’ve had to pay penalties for, sins that scarred so deeply that only God could help me learn from them and overcome them. And to think, God no longer holds these violations against me. I have been forgiven! You have been forgiven! We have been forgiven! Only when we can accept that we were once vile sinners can we fully accept that we are truly forgiven and grasp its significance.
Our sins are removed from us as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12). Ever notice how the Bible didn’t say from the North to the South? That’s because there is a North Pole and a South Pole, a measurable distance. We can’t measure the East from the West in the same manner. There are no definite points of reference. Our sins are so far removed from us that they will never be brought before us again.
It doesn’t stop with God forgiving us. God wants us to extend the same forgiveness to others He extends to us. My mind races to Luke 17:4. Jesus tells us straight up, “And if he trespasses against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turns again to you, saying, I repent, you shall forgive him.” Picture this: you walk up to me and punch me in the face, curse me, and kick my dog. I’m appalled. Then you come to me and ask me to forgive you. Being the amazing super-Christian that I am, I forgive you. Exactly one hour later you approach me again. You punch me in the face, curse me, and kick my dog. I’m appalled again. You ask for forgiveness. I consent. This pattern repeats itself many fold, in fact, every hour on the hour for seven hours straight this continues. If you can wrap your mind around that example, you have a chance at understanding how huge this scripture actually is.
Who do you need to forgive? No, no, no—really. Who do you need to forgive? Don’t let this opportunity pass to adhere to scripture and move on to a higher level of living. Who do you need to forgive?
Let me add something here that may help. We’re not supposed to get use to it. We’re not commanded by God to like it. We’re just required to do it. Please bear in mind one thing when forgiving others seems unbearable—it may not feel pleasing to you, it may not seem appreciated by the person you forgive, but it is pleasing to God. A quote by E. H. Chapin best sums this up: “Never does the human soul appear so strong and noble as when it forgoes revenge and dares to forgive an injury.”
This article “Forgive as He Forgives” was taken from “Thirtyoneanothers” by Russ Cripps and may be used for study and research purposes only.