Do I have to forgive and do I have to reconcile? As Christ-followers these are questions we must face and deal with, if not there could be serious consequences.
What is forgiveness? Scripture states:
Forgiveness, according to the Bible, is correctly understood as God’s promise not to count our sins against us.
Biblical forgiveness requires repentance on our part (turning away from our old life of sin) and faith in Jesus Christ.
One condition for receiving forgiveness from God is our willingness to forgive other people.
Human forgiveness is a reflection of our experience and understanding of God’s forgiveness.
Love (not obligatory rule-following) is the motivation behind God’s forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of others.
Psychologist’s state: forgiveness is 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 offenses.
Why should we forgive others?
Jesus is very clear on this point: As believers, our relationship with God is restored, but what about our relationship with our fellow human beings? The Bible states that when someone hurts us, we are under an obligation to God to (Matthew 6:14-15), “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” If you ignore this scripture could it not mean anyone who refuses to forgive others is demonstrating that he has not truly received Christ’s forgiveness himself?
Forgiving others is an essential part of the life of believers. Ephesians 4:23 commands, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Similarly, Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Both of these passages show that Jesus forgives believers unconditionally and instructs us to forgive others as He has forgiven us.
Refusing to forgive is a sin. If we receive forgiveness from God, we must give it to others who hurt us. We cannot hold grudges or seek revenge.
We are to trust God for justice and forgive the person who offended us. That does not mean we must forget the offense, or even reconcile with that person. Forgiveness means releasing the other from blame, leaving the event in God’s hands, and moving on.
How important is forgiveness as it relates to our relationship with God? Forgiveness is a key element in salvation. When Jesus forgives us, our sins are completely removed and remembered no more (Isaiah 43:25). It is impossible to have salvation without forgiveness. Salvation is God’s deliverance from the consequences of sin. God’s forgiveness must be accepted through repentance and faith. If we are true, obedient Christ-followers we will do as he requests: “to forgive those who sin against us, love and keep no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5), and forgive as many times as necessary (Matthew 18:21-22). Refusing to forgive a person demonstrates resentment, bitterness, and anger, none of which are the traits of a growing Christian. And the forgiveness we extend to others should know no limits.
I found many scriptures on forgiveness, however, the only reference to repentance as a requirement to forgiveness is between the sinner and the Lord, 2 Chronicles 7:14, …”[when my people] turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and heal their land.” And 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us our sins.“
Additionally, an unforgiving spirit is a serious sin and should be confessed to God. If we have unforgiveness in our hearts against someone else, then we are acting in a way that is not pleasing to God, making our prayers and a proper living relationship with Him difficult. God will not hear our prayers unless we also show ourselves ready to grant forgiveness. Mark 11:25, “and when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Here again, Jesus does not mention repentance in relation to forgiveness.
Other scriptures on forgiveness;
Colossians 3:13 “Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.“
Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;”
Matthew 18:34-35 “And in anger, his master delivered him to the jailers until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
After discovering the above information I am of the belief that we must forgive others unconditionally and let God do the rest. Am I correct in my understanding of forgiveness? If you don’t think so, please let me know your comments and the scriptures to back up your view.