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"Forgiving One Another"

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Forgiveness of sins is a central theme that runs throughout the entire Bible.  In fact, this is why Jesus came to earth and shed His blood for the whole world (1 Jn. 2:2).  This is why we read of all the bloody animal sacrifices in the Old Testament - "for without shedding of blood there is no remission" (Heb. 9:22).  But it was "not possible that blood of bulls and goats could take away sins" (Heb. 10:4).  Thus, Jesus, the Son of God, the perfect sacrifice, offered his body on the cross "once for all" (Heb. 10:10).  His ultimate sacrifice provided forgiveness for all those who lived faithfully before His death, and also for all of us who now live after the cross, who have obeyed His gospel for the forgiveness of our sins (Heb. 9:14-18).  No one can ignore or neglect gospel obedience, because "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).  Even after we have been baptized "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38), we still sin and need forgiveness (1 Jn. 1:8-10).  Therefore, if we continue to "walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 Jn. 1:7).  And when He forgives us of our sins and lawless deeds, He assures us they are forgiven and forgotten forever - "I will remember no more" (Heb. 8:12).

Just as God, through His Son, has forgiven us, we must be willing to forgive those who sin against us.  Jesus taught that if we fail to forgive others, "neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matt. 6:14-15). Jesus went so far as to teach us that if someone sins against us "seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him" (Lk. 17:4). 


Indeed, forgiving others is often difficult. How do we handle forgiving those who come to us in repentance?  Unfortunately, some Christians, unlike God, never forget.  They will continually dwell on it and make reference to what happened by making disparaging remarks about the offender.  Much like the old illustration: They bury the hatchet, but leave the handle sticking out of the ground so they can go get it at any time and beat us over the head with it." Let us observe some practical suggestions that will help us after we have forgiven someone.


1.  Pray for them (Matt. 5:44).  Ask God to help you love and pray for the offender.


2.  Love and do good to the offender (Rom. 12:9).  Express love sincerely and genuinely, always seeking their welfare.


3.  Don't speak poorly of the offender (Rom. 12:14).  As the old adage goes, if you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all.


4.  Release them from your punishment (Rom. 12:17-19).  Stop giving them the silent treatment and keeping them at arm's length.


5.  Don't celebrate their failures (Prov. 24:17).  Refrain from gloating, saying "I told you so" or having a mindset of "That's what you get."

6.  Treat them the way you want to be treated (
Matt. 7:12).  When you do wrong and repent, you want grace and another chance.  Be willing to offer it to others when you get hurt.


7.  Stop dwelling on the past (Isa. 43:18).  Hit the "delete" button of your heart-stop dwelling on old hurts.  Choose to replace them with focusing on good thoughts (Phil. 4:8, 13-14).


Yes, we are to forgive because God has forgiven us.  We close with this important and clear command: "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you" (Eph. 4:32).


R.J. Evans

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