Forgiveness is huge topic throughout the Bible. It is a subject that is applicable to all people, for “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Forgiveness is like a coin; it has two sides. You can’t take one side of a coin without also getting the other. The same is true of forgiveness. Like the two parts that make up a cross, there is a vertical and horizontal aspect to forgiveness.
Consider the following verses:
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
The first side of forgiveness is receiving forgiveness from God. The second side of forgiveness is extending forgiveness to others. Let’s look more closely at these two sides.
Guilt is a universal problem. Every culture in the world is aware that there is right and wrong, and that wrong must be punished and atoned for. That is one of the reasons why there are so many religions throughout the world.
The question is not am I guilty, but what do I do with my guilt? Some people try to make up for their guilt by performing religious rituals and duties. Others try to balance out their sin with good works to make them feel better about themselves. Others simply allow their conscience to be seared so that they no longer feel guilty about their sin. None of these can remove guilt.
God has made a provision for our sins to be forgiven: the precious blood of Jesus. Those who come to Him in repentance and faith are totally forgiven of their sins. We cannot make up for our sins through religious works or by “being a good person.” Instead, we must receive God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Have you experienced God’s forgiveness? Has the burden of sin, guilt, and condemnation been lifted from your shoulders? If so, do not allow yourself to be burdened any longer with the weight of guilt. If not, call on the name of Jesus and receive His forgiveness today.
The other side of forgiveness is extending forgiveness to others. God expects that those who receive His forgiveness will also forgive those who have sinned against them. For Christians, this is not an option. We must choose to forgive those who have hurt us.
In Matthew 18:21-35 Jesus tells a parable about forgiveness. In the story, a king forgives one of his servants a massive debt that he could never repay. That same servant then finds one of his fellow servants who owes him a small amount of money. Instead of extending the same mercy he had received and forgiving his fellow servant, he had him imprisoned. When the king heard this he was furious, and had the servant who he had previously forgiven put into prison to be tormented. (Click here to read the full parable).
The message of this parable is clear. Our sin against God is so great that we could never make up for it. Yet, God provided for our forgiveness at the price of His own Son. In turn, when others sin against us we are to show the same mercy to them that God has shown to us. If not, we are opening up ourselves to torment and pain.
Living in a fallen world, we will all experience the pain of being sinned against to one degree or another. What we do when this happens can make or break our destiny in God.
When we harbor bitterness, anger, and un-forgiveness in our hearts it puts us in a spiritual prison. It does not hurt the person who sinned against us, it hurts us. It also opens the door for demonic torment in our lives. I have seen in deliverance ministry that tremendous healing and breakthrough can be received when we forgive the people who have sinned against us.
Forgiving others is a choice not a feeling. If we wait until we feel like forgiving, it will never come. When we choose to forgive, it is not condoning the hurtful behavior of others; it is not making what they did to us okay. But it is releasing the bitterness and resentment that we have in our hearts toward them. When we do this we are setting ourselves free.
Who do you need to forgive? You may not need to speak to them directly, but between you and God, forgive them from your heart. Say, “God, I choose to forgive __________________. I lay down all bitterness, anger, and resentment.” When you do this you are releasing yourself from the torment that comes with un-forgiveness.
Remember, forgiveness has two sides. I pray you will experience the joys of both: receive God’s forgiveness and extend forgiveness to those who have hurt you.