Why forgive? The easiest answer is to say because we are told to. Ever since we were kids I remember being told things like: “Say you are sorry,” or “Tell her you forgive her!” And as far as God went, we were supposed to forgive others just like He has forgiven us. Unfortunately that was the gist of what I heard. Numerous questions remained.
In this last series of blogs, I have done my best to answer a number of questions and share my heart on the topic of forgiveness. In this last blog on the topic, I want to refer back to an earlier work on the subject where I approach this topic of WHY. Why forgive? What is the ultimate purpose in God forgiving us and in turn, you and I forgiving others?
We normally hear things like:
- Forgiving others frees us from the bitterness that eats away at us inside.
- If we don’t forgive we won’t be forgiven.
- Something inside us tells us it is the right thing to do.
While not at all discounting these reasons, I wonder if there isn’t more. I think: why did God offer forgiveness to us?
He certainly didn’t need to. He could have started all over again with the human race. Instead, He chose to go the route of forgiveness. Why?
Why did God offer to forgive ME?
While pondering the answer to that question, this is what came to mind:
God offers to forgive or free me from the weight of a debt I owe Him so that I might experience a kind of love that lures me away from a self-absorbed life to a life of seeking Him where I learn to love even as I have been loved.
I know I just said a lot. Let me make it simple:
Think of a time when you were forgiven. Were you grateful? Thankful they had? And did you thereafter wish to be closer to that person or bless them somehow in return?
It is because you were freed from the weight of a debt you could not repay. You were drawn by their love. You let down your defenses and you wanted to restore or renew or rebuild a relationship with them.
Is this not what God hopes for when He forgives us?
There is a beautiful story about a woman who had sinned much but dared to humbly come near to Jesus who forgave her. Then Jesus said to the others near Him in reference to the woman: “I tell you, her sins – and they are many – have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love.” Luke 7:47 NLT
It was the love and forgiveness of Jesus that melted the woman’s heart and caused her to want to love Him in return.
So why should you or I forgive someone who has wronged us?
Why extend a hand of forgiveness to them?
Because of the hope that God has for us.
- It is a hope that the person who wronged us would be so enticed by the love we show them in freeing them from the weight of a debt they cannot repay, that they would abandon any remaining defenses.
- It is a hope that instead, they would wonder about our love to such an extent that they would seek the author of Love–-Jesus, and learn to love even as He loves them.
- Finally it is a hope that they would also seek to renew, restore, and rebuild a relationship with any or all they have wronged.
The act of forgiving another is no light task. And there are no guarantees. They might respond humbly and gratefully as the woman in the story with Jesus, or they may scoff at you and walk away without receiving the forgiveness offered.
Depending upon the degree of the offense, it can be quite difficult. Taking time to reflect upon how God has forgiven us helps.
Marriages and families cannot survive without forgiveness. There is hardly a day that goes by that I don’t hurt or wrong someone in my family even in the slightest of ways whether it is through selfishness, impatience, a short or harsh tone in my voice, insensitivity to other’s needs, or more. No doubt you would say the same. I am tremendously grateful for a wife and children who extend their love towards me through forgiveness.
In the end, forgiveness is about offering others freedom from what they owe us just as God has freed us from what we owe Him. It is about loving others even as we have been loved.
I hope and pray these blogs on forgiveness have been helpful. Thank you for taking the time to read them!
Question: What other topics would you like me to write on? You can leave a comment by clicking here.