What is Forgiveness?
“The action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.”
Let’s expand that a little; what is the true definition of forgiveness?
Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness... Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offences.
Forgiveness is at the core of believe, repent, obey; why do I say that?
As shame holds the door open to feelings of guilt, anxiety, pride; Forgiveness closes the door.
There are many reasons for this, let us consider the physical, mental and psychological benefits of forgiveness:
There are tons of tangible physical benefits! Forgiveness can lead to:
I am not making this stuff up; you can look up any number of research papers that have real hard evidence of the benefits of forgiveness.
Physically, mentally and of course there are untold spiritual benefits.
Before we look at the spiritual benefits lets get something clear, a fundamental teaching of Cornerstone is that recovery is a three legged stool; physical, mental and spiritual. If any one leg is missing the stool will topple.
Soul recovery or restoration in Christ is no different; there is no one alive who is just physical, purely spiritual or completely psychological.
There is no healthy way of living that does not embrace all three, no matter what you believe or what you’ve read; this is the truth of our existence.
So when I hear things like:
It drives me crazy that even Christians talk like this, people who really should know better.
Our reality in Christ should be that there is only life; Christ teaching permeating through every area of our lives.
This is how and why forgiveness is important; this is why God in the Old and New Testament made it a central pillar of following Him. Forgiveness restores us to Him, restores us to others and restores us to good physical, mental and spiritual health.
It is so important that the prayer Jesus taught us to recite has it in its core!
In the middle of this prayer repeated by and wrote by Christians everywhere is this line:
“and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”
This is one very good reason as to why Christians should never recite anything without actually knowing and then meaning what it is they are reciting.
We are asking or making a statement that God should forgive us as we have forgiven others.
Or to read that differently: Forgive us as much as we have forgiven others
Have you forgiven yourself and those that have wronged you?
Some things are harder to forgive, I understand that; but have you or are taking it to the Lord asking him to help you forgive?
Are you picking up your cross daily in this area?
If you are not I want to point out here in our joint prayer, the one Jesus asks us to pray; we are making a promise and making a bold statement.
We are clearly promising to forgive and we are sealing that with the statement:
“as we also have forgiven our debtors”
This is not the only place this is said:
This cannot be clearer, we are commanded to forgive; in fact the security of our forgiveness relies on it.
Why is it so important to God? Well for all the benefits I’ve listed above God wants the best for us, also because it is the nature of God to forgive.
We are nothing like God; physically, emotionally, mentally, sexually. There is nothing, not one thing about us that is like GOD; He is Holy, beyond our comprehension. Yet the Bible tells us we are made in His image, how is that possible?
We are made in His image as to our function; we were made to be His eyes, ears, hands and feet on Earth. We were made to rule this Earth under God’s rule. We are, in our function, made in His image.
If we are to meet this command of God we must reflect His character, which is one of forgiveness and love.
Forgiveness brings us into relationship with God in a completely new and far deeper way.
This is how forgiveness closes the door:
Then we live in forgiveness, we live in its benefits and share those with others.
We cannot submit to God’s will and follow His teaching if we are holding onto our own.
Forgiveness is the key to truly being free, to:
Just to show just how important forgiveness is here is a list of verses, not exhaustive but enough for you to see how important forgiveness is to God.
Notice that all of the above are in the Old Testament! What can we say about Jesus’ forgiveness?
Jesus gives us the perfect example of forgiveness. While in agony on the cross, Jesus called out, exclaiming:
Wonder how many times the Bible calls us to forgive?
Jesus asks us to model our forgiveness of others on the way God has forgiven us, forgiving “not by seven times, but seventy times seven.”
Realistically you wouldn’t say “I have forgiven Dave 483 times, I will only forgive him another 7 times...”
Jesus didn’t expect us to keep a tally and when we exceeded 490 we wouldn’t have to forgive anymore. He expects us to forgive unconditionally.
Thank you for reading
I hope you enjoyed the study.
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