HOW TO FORGIVE OTHERS
One of the greatest difficulties in the life of humans is the ability to forgive those who have wronged us. Man’s failure to exhibit this attribute of God has led to the end of many relationships that would otherwise have become great. Friendships have ended bitterly because of an unwillingness to forgive. Marriages have devolved to a point of no return. Nations have gone to war because of a lack of forgiveness. A popular maxim says “An eye for an eye makes the world go blind”
There are two Greek words in the New Testament that expose us to the mind of God concerning forgiveness.
1. Charizomai: It means ‘to be gracious’ (Eph4.32; Col 2.13; 3.13). W. E. Vine defines it as “to bestow a favor unconditionally”
2. Aphiemi: It means ‘to let off or let away’ (1John 1.9). It means to not punish someone for their sins.
These words help us learn that forgiveness helps both the forgiver and the forgiven. The forgiver has a disposition of being gracious and the forgiven escapes the punishment and is not haunted by the guilt of their sins.
The following guidelines will help you practice forgiveness:
1. You are a product of forgiveness(Romans 3.23-26). It is only those who have experienced divine forgiveness that can truly forgive others. Alexander Pope said: “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” The love of God for mankind made forgiveness possible while the sacrifice of His Son makes it actual in our lives. It is not possible to possess the love of God if the Spirit of God does not dwell in you (Romans 5.5). The Spirit of God is given to those who have obeyed the Gospel of Christ (Acts 2.38; 5.32;1Thess 4.8). At the point of baptism, the Holy Spirit indwells those who have yielded their lives to the will of Christ.
2. You can stay forgiven only if you forgive others (Matthew 18.23-35). In His infinite wisdom, God made His forgiveness of our sins contingent on our replication of this attribute in our human relationships. Jesus said: “My father in heaven will not also forgive you if you fail to forgive from the heart those who sin against you” (Matthew 18.35)
3. Be ready to forgive always (Luke 17.3-4). Keeping record of wrongs is not an attribute of the love of God. We are to forgive without counting the number of times we have had to forgive an offense.
When you learn to forgive others, you become more like God. His Grace and Peace will be multiplied in your life. So, ask yourself: Who do you need to forgive? Forgive them already! Not because they deserve it but because you want to be like your heavenly Father. Only the disobedient children refuse to forgive. 2 Corinthians 13:5. ..Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you–unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected?
Contact any church of Christ near you for guidance on how to receive divine forgiveness and how to forgive others who may have offended you.
Written by Daniel Jimi for evangelismportal.org