Read: Ephesians 4:32
Forgiveness is one of those words that is thrown around a lot in our deep south, sweet tea culture. We have a tendency to use it as a “cover all” term for whenever we mess up or want someone to like us again. We’re quick to ask for forgiveness, but we’re also quick to repeat the actions that caused us need forgiveness in the first place.
What is true forgiveness according to the Bible? What does it look like to live a life of forgiveness and joy with God and with other people?
First, we have to remember how much we’ve been forgiven in the first place. The starting point for true forgiveness is recognizing that ultimate forgiveness came from the cross of Jesus Christ. We were enemies of God, yet He still gave His only Son so that we could be in relationship with Him. Now THAT is forgiveness. When we wake up every morning thankful for the ultimate forgiveness that we have received, it allows us to live a life of forgiveness with other people.
Next, we have to give up our right to get revenge or “get even.” Vengeance is the enemy of true forgiveness. When we live with an attitude that other people need to “get what’s coming to them,” then we can never experience the freedom of forgiveness. Life isn’t fair, but Romans 12:19 says, “Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it.” Leave it to God to right the wrongs, and focus on forgiving, no strings attached.
Last, we have to realize that true forgiveness isn’t a one-time event, it’s an ongoing process. We have to forgive, then forgive again, and again, and again and again. Even when the pain of someone hurting you surfaces to the top, you have to keep forgiving. Even when that person hurts you anew, you have to keep forgiving. Why? Because Jesus did the same thing for you.
Pray: Father, thank you that you showed the ultimate act of forgiveness when you sent your Son to die on the cross in my place. Help me to forgive others as many times as it takes. Thank you for helping me live a life of joy, even in the face of hurtful words and situations. Take away any spirit of vengeance in my life, and help me live for the glory of Your name. In Jesus’ name, amen.