Sin has been, is now, and will be a consistent problem for humankind until Jesus Christ returns. The sin of Adam was passed to us all (Genesis 3). From the time of Adam until the resurrection of Jesus, the full sharing and communion with Yahweh was lost. Yahweh is a righteous and holy God and cannot fellowship with sin. What was to be done to rectify this cataclysmic disaster? Yahweh created a perfect plan so that His desire to have a family would be attained. His plan involved love and forgiveness. The agent of the plan was His Son, Jesus the Messiah. Jesus’ death made forgiveness available for us. It is attained through the love that Yahweh and Jesus Christ have for us.
Oswald Chambers in his daily devotional makes the statement, “When once you realize all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in a vise, constrained by the love of God.”1 Forgiveness cannot happen without the spiritual reality of Yahweh and His Son’s love. Once we wrap our minds around the sacrifice of Jesus for all our own and humankind’s sins, we are able to see, behind the suffering of Jesus, all the love Yahweh has for us.
For us to be at one with Him, we now have a way to be righteous and holy. That way is through accepting Jesus as our redeemer. We are lost in our sin and without hope of eternal life. We cannot earn, barter, swindle, cajole, or be perfect enough to deserve forgiveness. Only our loving Yahweh could accomplish this for us. His love is awesome. We are loved and forgiven. We are to be imitators of God as dear children (Ephesians 5:1) and do the same for others.
Forgiveness is of great importance for us to be able to persevere and live a faithful life. To be able to forgive, I am to love as Jesus loved. When on the cross, Jesus asked Yahweh to forgive them, for they (those responsible for his crucifixion and beatings) know not what they do (Luke 23:34). A few days before the crucifixion when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a colt, the crowd praised Yahweh and laid down palm branches and their cloaks to honor their King Jesus. Fast forward a few days and, many of the same people were roaring for him to be crucified. It took spiritual love for Jesus to be able to forgive.
Unforgiveness is like a splinter that festers and, if not treated properly, will become septic to our bodies. It feels like we have a weight on our shoulders and cannot be happy or joyful. We may even think of things to hurt someone or worse. When we open the door to unforgiveness, we start a bumpy road that leads away from Yahweh. When we forgive, to not hold the sin against the other person(s) liberates ourselves from bondage. Yahweh’s job is to be the righteous judge, and He will judge in a day coming soon. That is not our job. An example of forgiving and not forgiving is recorded as a parable in Matthew 18.
Matthew 18:21-35. Then Peter came up and said to Him, “Lord, how many times shall my brother sin against me and I still forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy-seven times. “For this reason the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. And when he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his master commanded that he be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ And the master of that slave felt compassion, and he released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe!’ So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But he was unwilling, and went and threw him in prison until he would pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their master all that had happened. Then summoning him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ And his master, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he would repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”
The king who wanted to settle his accounts was owed a significant amount of money by this servant. The king felt compassion which is born from love for this man and forgave him all his debt. How generous and kind the king was. This forgiving of the debt cost the king a lot of money. The forgiven servant finds one who owes him just a little money and has him thrown into prison. This is not how we are to respond to our Heavenly Father and to Jesus who are just and faithful to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). When we fall into thinking we are unforgivable or cannot possibly forgive another, think about the complete sacrifice that Jesus accomplished because of his love for his Father and you. It is a sobering thought.
People have gone through wars, traumas, diseases, financial problems, personal betrayals, murders, and drunk drivers. From a human perspective, we consider that evil done to us does not deserve forgiveness. We must stop that thinking immediately. Yahweh gave His Son, who was perfect, for all humanity so we could all believe on Jesus and have eternal life. We forgive because Yahweh’s love is within us, and that is what gives us the ability to forgive. Forgiving does not set things right, but it keeps our hearts free from bitterness, wrath, and murderous thoughts. Yahweh will judge in the end, and the evil will have its punishment that is due. This is far greater than anything we could ever hand out in our vengeance mode. We imitate our loving Father by forgiving others, so that we can persevere and endure this treacherous world.
Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch Christian who in her 50’s was sent to a German prison camp, had a particular guard that was especially malicious toward her and was responsible for her sister’s death. After being released because of a mistake, Corrie traveled the world preaching and teaching. Years later, she finally returned to Germany where in one of her meetings was the guard that was so heinous. Her teaching topic was forgiveness. After the meeting, she was greeting people, and this man came up to her and said he had been a guard at a camp but did not recognize her. He put his hand out to shake hers and asked for forgiveness. Corrie related that there was no way she could take his hand, let alone forgive him for his atrocities. She stood silently and prayed asking Yahweh to help her forgive this man, and all of a sudden, she raised her hand and said “Yes,” she would forgive him. A wave of relief and burden was lifted. She had great deliverance from the weight of unforgiveness.
When we forgive as we are instructed in Scripture2, we can overcome being taken over by evil. We cannot do this without being loving as Christ taught us. It is supernatural love. We have no idea what the guard did with his forgiveness from Corrie, but we do know that she was able to continue in her ministry without the burden of vengeance and bitterness born from unforgiveness.
Take time to think of any unforgiveness you may be harboring. We think it protects us from people hurting us again, but all it does is weaken our hearts and relationship with Yahweh. Put on forgiveness. Live as Christ did, and let each of us be an imitator of God as His dear child.
Yahweh wanted people to have a way to be with Him again. Love was the way that formed the plan of forgiveness of sins. Given through love, we receive forgiveness, and through love, we give forgiveness to others. What an awesome plan!
1 Chambers, Oswald, (1963). My Utmost for His Highest, Barbour and Company: NJ p. 242.
2 Gen. 50:17ff; Col. 1:13-14; Matt. 26; Acts 10:43; Neh. 9:17; 1 John 1:9