The importance of the subject of forgiveness, be it forgiveness from God, forgiveness of others, or forgiveness of ourselves, can never be overstated. Jesus gave an entire teaching on the unpayable debt that each one of us owes to God, which He paid for us, and which in turn means that we are to be forgiving others for the comparative little that they do to us (Matthew 18:21-35).
Today, I’d like to focus a bit more on the importance of the forgiveness of others. Our Creator knows that forgiving others (Ephesians 4:32) and ourselves (Romans 8:31-34) is necessary for our spiritual well-being, as well as our physical and emotional health. That is not to say that every time we have a cold or some serious sickness it is because we have sinned. Yes, all sickness and even death can be traced back to the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, but if the only reason we get sick is because of sin in our lives, we would be sick all of the time! When a person refuses to forgive another person, they become infected with things like bitterness (Hebrews 12:15; Colossians 3:19), and the desire to take revenge to even the score (Romans 12:19).
But Jesus offers a better way of handling those very real hurts and wounds. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.’ But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45) To heed the words, “But I say unto you…” is our Lord’s admonition in dealing with unforgiveness and any other hurt that people do to us. We can only do that when we remember the cross and how much we have been forgiven for Christ’s sake (1 John 2:12). Joseph was “done wrong” by his brothers, but when there was opportunity for him to “settle the score” and “get even”, he said, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50:20)
Beloved, forgiving others does not deny the hurt that other people may have inflicted upon us. Forgiving others does not mean that they may not have to suffer consequences for what they have done to us. Forgiving others means that we choose to submit to The Lordship of Jesus Christ, and that we “commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” (1 Peter 4:19)