This article is written to give a perspective of what forgiveness can do for us, and hopefully encourage us to forgive others in our life. Perhaps forgiveness is so powerful because it is often the most difficult thing to do. Naturally, when we have been wronged, we want to see payback. When someone has hurt us, we want to see that person suffer as well, we want to totally disconnect with that person, or we might just hold an inner grudge. Like the popular saying goes, “forgive but not forget.”
To forgive is to let go of some concepts that our flesh tends to hold important. To forgive, we must sacrifice the craving to see justice, we must act out of God’s righteousness instead of thinking we are self-righteous, and we must understand that forgiveness frees us more so than the justifications we hope to see.
When Jacob stole the birthright from his brother Esau, he was afraid to come around his brother for years because he knew what he had done was wrong. However, it was a huge shock for Jacob when his brother met him and greeted him with thanksgiving and joy. Because Esau had forgiven his brother, he did not have to live with anger and bitterness towards his brother.
Another great example of forgiveness is in the story of Joseph. Joseph was beaten, betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, and much more. Through all of this, Joseph grasped onto the faithfulness of God, and served Him even through the worst of circumstances. Joseph didn’t forgive his brothers when he saw them after all of those years; he had long since forgiven them before that time. As a result, Joseph was able to greet his brothers with thanksgiving, love, and all of the mercy they didn’t deserve. The fact of the matter is, because Joseph’s faithfulness to forgive, God was able to bless him abundantly and exalt Joseph beyond what Joseph had even dreamed of, and through this we see justice served, that Joseph’s brothers would come crawling and begging for help. This story helps us understand the greatness of God, and that His justice tops the justice we ever wish to see, and His plans are catered to those who diligently seek His face, not seeking revenge.
The greatest example of forgiveness that there is to examine is the forgiveness God has extended to you and me. 1st John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. So, as we see, forgiveness takes faithfulness. God is faithful to His commitment, for He first loved us. Secondly, the forgiveness God has for us is justified. How? The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is so powerful…so great…that His bloodshed allows God to blot out our transgressions if we trust in Him. It’s not that God has made an exception for certain people, or that He just picks the ones who seem good enough or want it bad enough, or that He will somehow sneak us through the pearly gates. No, God is just to forgive us because His wrath fell upon His only Son on the cross that we may enter through Jesus and His blood.
Furthermore, Matthew 6:14-15 says if we forgive others, God will forgive us of our sins. If we do not, our Father will also not forgive us of our sins. This tells us that it is very important for us to find the grace to forgive others. Essentially, it is not up to you and me whether we should forgive others or not, only it is up to us to forgive and let God take care of the rest; and believe me, He will. We forfeit our right to hold a grudge when we fall under the grace of God, because God has forgiven us. Because I am forgiven, I cannot rightfully withhold forgiveness from someone else.
So, the “to forgive but not forget” method falls short of what our mentality should be, for even all-powerful God of Heaven who theoretically can’t forget things has miraculously found a way to “forget” our sins completely. Isaiah 43:25-26
To find forgiveness can be challenging, but to live without it is miserable. Let us be thankful that we have the option to trust a faithful God who can deliver us from evil, and sort out the problems we can’t. God’s forgiveness is a source of life, so let us lay aside every weight and every burden by forgiving others and ourselves that we may live in the fullness of joy.
Stay Encouraged, and God bless
Isaac Redman is a 22-year-old youth pastor at Pleasant Grove Church. He is a servant of Christ and loves music and the outdoors.