Offering forgiveness to others is one of the most difficult and important aspects of the Christian life. The Bible clearly commands us to forgive others. God longs to fashion us into his likeness that we might model the love we’ve been shown to a world with no concept of mercy. He longs for us to offer grace and forgiveness to the undeserving as we have been offered grace and forgiveness when we were undeserving. May you be filled with courage and boldness to offer forgiveness to those in desperate need of grace. And may God’s love shine through as you enter into your calling as a minister of reconciliation.
We would be wholly lost if it weren’t for the abundant mercy of our heavenly Father. Romans 3:23-24 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” We are offered total and complete forgiveness of our sins because God loves us and has mercy on us. The mercy of God allots us freedom and restored relationship we could never attain on our own. We are not justified by our own works or inherent worth, but by grace alone.
The nature of forgiveness is mercy. And the Bible tells us in Luke 6:36-37, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.” In order for us to be merciful with others, we must be consistently encountering and reflecting on the abundant mercy of God toward us. When we were at our lowest, God met us and offered us eternal, abundant life in him. When we had no ability to attain right standing before our Creator, he brought himself low, took on the form of a servant, and died for our sakes (Philippians 2:8).
You were saved by the greatest act of mercy the world will ever know. And now your heavenly Father is asking you to share the great mercy you have been shown. He’s asking you to live and operate in his likeness by loving others the way you have been loved. The Bible commands us to forgive others. God doesn’t give us the option. Colossians 3:13 says, “Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” James 2:13 says, “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” If we are living with unforgiveness, we are living outside of the will of God.
God knows forgiveness is difficult. He knows that it takes courage and strength to offer mercy where it is undeserved. He paid the highest price for our sins by sending Jesus to an undeserving, gruesome death. But he also knows the joy that comes from reconciliation. He knows the goodness of wiping the slate clean that he might have restored relationship with us. And he longs for you to be a minister of reconciliation to all who have hurt you. He longs to overwhelm you with his love and mercy to the degree that offering others mercy and love comes from a place of overflow rather than your own strength. He longs to fill you with courage and perspective so that you can forgive those who need a glimpse of his mercy and grace.
Take time as you enter into guided prayer to receive the love and mercy of your heavenly Father. Allow him to fill you up to overflowing today. And follow his guidance as he gives you grace to forgive others in obedience and love.
1. Meditate on the forgiveness and mercy you have been shown in Christ. Allow the compassion God has for you to fill you with compassion for others. Ask God to give you his heart for others as you meditate on his word.
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-7
2. Now meditate on God’s command for you to forgive others. Make God’s word the foundation of your actions rather than your own desires or fears. God will always guide you into what is absolutely best for you. You have to trust him at his word and obey.
“Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:36-37
“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13
“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:13
3. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any unforgiveness in your heart. Whether the wound is large or small, you must engage in forgiveness for it to heal properly. Ask God to give you courage to forgive today.
Trusting and obeying God is foundational to experiencing the fullness of life Jesus died to give you. God longs to lead you into his perfect plans. He is always guiding and shepherding you to your best possible life. But he cannot lead you where you will not follow. He cannot bless you if you are living outside of his will. Commit to following him wherever he leads, whether or not you feel like it or understand. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you into a lifestyle of continual forgiveness that you might experience to even greater depths the abundant life God longs to give.
Extended Reading: Luke 6