Forgiveness: What does it really mean?

I’ll be honest; I can be a pretty cynical person at times. It is a weakness of mine. People have hurt me in the past, and it affects how I now view relationships. I keep my expectations low, so when the disappointment or hurt comes, I don’t even notice it. It isn’t fair to new co-workers, neighbors, or friends that I meet.

The pain has stayed with me for years in some cases. I replay scenarios in my head to think about what I could have done differently, but for what purpose? What good does that bring? 

Psychologists define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance towards a person who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.

The last part of that definition is where I have struggled the most because I see the world in black and white. In my mind, justice must be served. I do well at forgiving those who ask for forgiveness. Maybe you are like me in that regard. Or, perhaps, you struggle with forgiveness no matter the circumstance.

God calls us to do more, to be different.

Let’s look at what it really means to forgive someone:

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. – Ephesians 4:31-32

There is a lot of content in the Bible on the subject of forgiveness. As believers, we have received the ultimate forgiveness because Christ forgave us for our sins. God makes it crystal clear that we are to forgive everyone, as well.

We are to keep no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5) and we are also to forgive as many times as necessary (Matthew 18:21-22). These actions are so foreign to our world today. Everything we hear tells us to do the opposite.

When we see the world through God’s eyes, these are changes we are challenged to make. Forgiveness is absolutely essential to the Christian life. Who are we as followers of Christ not to forgive?

Maybe you are reading this, and you have never experienced the grace and forgiveness of God; you feel guilty about where life has taken you and the decisions you have made.

Be encouraged by this: God loves you and wants a relationship with you. Remember, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” -1 John 1:9

Ben Brandon
Antioch GT Worship Pastor