Jesus helped us be forgiven by the Father, and helps us to forgive one another…
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His One & Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
— John 3:16
The word forgiveness is thrown around a lot. We say, “I’m sorry, please forgive me,” to our friends or family after a fight or a misstep. We see people on the news who have done terrible things and we think to ourselves, “they should ask for forgiveness.” But what does it mean to truly forgive?
In the Old Testament, Joseph was a shining example of what it meant to show love through forgiveness. Even though his brothers sold him into slavery, he forgave them and blessed them. When God sent Jesus to Earth, He did so with the intention of forgiveness for the world. Let’s explore what that looks like.
What Is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness is often misunderstood. To most people, forgiveness seems like something that you give to someone else after they have wronged you in some way. While it is certainly true that we are supposed to forgive others when they sin against us, that is not the whole story.
The truth is that forgiveness is first and foremost something that God gives to us. It is His gift to us, and it is only because of His forgiveness that we can even begin to forgive others. Jesus died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven; He took the punishment that we deserved so that we could be forgiven and have eternal life with Him. That is the heart of forgiveness: Jesus taking our punishment so that we can be forgiven.
How Do I Forgive Others?
Since forgiveness starts with God forgiving us, it stands to reason that the way we are able to forgive others is by first receiving God’s forgiveness ourselves. When we repent of our sins and put our faith in Jesus Christ, God forgives us; and as we receive His forgiveness, we are better able to extend forgiveness to others who have wronged us. It doesn’t mean that it’s always easy—forgiveness can be very hard—but it is always possible because God gives us the strength to do it. He enables us to forgive others just as He has forgiven us.
Why Should We Forgive Others?
We should forgive others because God has forgiven us, and He calls us to follow His example. When we refuse to forgive those who have sinned against us, we are refusing to obey God and extend the same grace and mercy to others that He has extended to us. Forgiveness isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it because it brings glory to God and sets us free from bitterness and anger. The next time someone hurts you, remember what Jesus did for you on the cross and extend forgiveness—just as He did for you.