During the debriefing session of my recent service trip to SE Asia, a question was asked for us to reflect upon. The question was, “Is there anyone you need to apologize to?” I skipped the question initially, because I felt that I needed to go over every conversation and action in order to answer it honestly.
It got me thinking about my day-to-day living. Do I spend that much time thinking through my words or actions to see if I need to apologize to anyone. I will admit, I don’t. But why not?
One online source says that the word “forgive” appears 116 times in Scripture and “forgiving” seven times.[i] It seems that God believes forgiveness to be pretty important. Let’s look at some of these passages.
Why Does God Forgive?
God desires a relationship with mankind, with each of us. With that relationship comes forgiveness. God’s willingness to forgive us for our imperfections is part of who He is. It is a characteristic He possesses. Here are some passages that show His forgiving nature.
“They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them.” (Nehemiah 9:17 – NIV)
“You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.” (Psalm 86:5 – NIV)
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are from the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:8-12 – NIV)
“The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.” (Daniel 9:9 – NIV)
God’s Forgiveness Toward Us
I believe we need to have an understanding of how God forgives us so that we in turn may forgive others. Some Scripture that shows God’s willingness to forgive are below.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 – NIV)
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’ grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:7-8 – NIV)
“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14 – NIV)
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 – NIV)
Our Forgiveness Toward Others
Because we have been lavished with forgiveness from our heavenly Father, we must in turn forgive others. It isn’t an option, it is a command. And yet, more of God’s Word and how we are to forgive.
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15 – NIV)
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” (Matthew 18:21-22 – NIV)
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ god forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 – NIV)
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” (Colossians 3:13 – NIV)
I believe the conclusion here is to forgive, ask for forgiveness, and know that we will be forgiven by God. Unfortunately, when we allow our human nature to rule our hearts instead of God’s Spirit, this concept gets a little muddled.
Today I must ask two questions. Is there anyone you need to apologize to? Is there anyone you need to offer forgiveness to? If someone comes to mind, spend some time with your heavenly Father and ask Him how to pursue reconciliation. He will lead and guide you through this process. You won’t have to do this alone.
Forgiveness is a tough issue, because it is a heart issue. It isn’t easy. It isn’t fun. But bitterness and guilt are even more difficult to live with, so we must forgive. Don’t waste another day living without forgiveness. It really isn’t worth it.
Grace and peace be yours in abundance,