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.
Before we have the ability to live a lifestyle of forgiveness, we must discover the depth of forgiveness we have received in Jesus. God’s love is the foundation for our own love. His forgiveness is the foundation for our own forgiveness. In order to love to greater depths, we must continuously reflect on the nature of our own sin and God’s overwhelming mercy.
In Luke 7:44-47 Jesus reveals an important spiritual principle about forgiveness, sacrifice, and love. A sinful woman has just come and ministered to Jesus, cleaning his feet with her own tears, hair, and alabaster ointment. When Simon, a Pharisee, saw the incredible act of love, he judged the woman and Jesus in his heart. Knowing Simon’s thoughts, Jesus says to him,
Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.
“He who is forgiven little, loves little.” Allow Jesus’ words to settle into your heart for a minute. God turns our greatest sins into his greatest triumphs. He takes our greatest transgressions, offers us mercy for them all, and transforms them into life-giving rivers of love and forgiveness. Until you and I understand the depth to which we were enslaved to sin, we will never love to our greatest potential. Until we understand how vast the chasm was that separated us from God and compare it to our new position seated with Christ in the heavenly places, we will never forgive others to the depth God calls us to.
While we were by nature wholly unworthy, God called us out from darkness and brought us into the light. While we were unable to pursue righteousness, God saved us and gave us a new identity as his sons and daughters made righteous and pure. Before the forgiveness offered you through Christ, you had no access to true relationship with your heavenly Father. You had no access to the fruit of the Spirit. You had no way to know and experience the depths of God’s love. Your life was rooted in destruction with no way out. Yet God saw fit to forgive every transgression you have ever committed and will commit. The Father so longed for your restoration to him that he paid the highest price of Jesus’ death.
Take time today to truly reflect on the depravity to which you once belonged and on the new nature, portion, and depth of relationship available to you by the forgiveness of God. Allow the Lord to forgive any present failures that are robbing you of the abundant life Jesus died to give you. And allow the Spirit to fill you with compassion and mercy for others that you might forgive them in response to the forgiveness you have received.
1. Meditate on your life before salvation and your life after salvation. Allow God’s word to paint a picture of just how powerful and merciful God’s forgiveness is.
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” Isaiah 59:1-2
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Ephesians 1:3-4
2. What sin would the Lord have you confess today? Where do you need forgiveness?
3. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with compassion for others today. Ask him to make you quick to forgive in light of the forgiveness you’ve been shown. Ask him to help you keep no record of wrongs so that you can love others with his love.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22
May Psalm 103:10-14 fill you with love for your heavenly Father and compassion for others today:
Extended Reading: Luke 7