By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
You Have No Choice But to Forgive
By Clarence L. Haynes Jr.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13
When you think about the marks of a Christian, there is one mark that should be present, which sometimes we can too easily gloss over. That mark is forgiveness. When we need forgiveness, it is amazing how we seek after it. Yet when we must give forgiveness, sometimes we can be a little slow on the draw. Have you ever wondered why that is? One reason is we forget how much we have been forgiven, and when that happens, we can treat the act of forgiving someone else as if we are doing them a favor instead of extending grace that we ourselves have received. I want to remind you if you are going to be a true follower of Christ, then you must exercise forgiveness. You really have no choice if you truly want to follow Christ.
Why Must You Forgive?
There really is one good reason why you must forgive. Because God has forgiven you. That alone should be enough to motivate you to forgive others, and yet, many times, it is not. I want you to look back on your life for a moment and think about all the sins you have committed against God and against other people. (I would ask you to start writing them down, but you will soon discover that list is going to get very long.) Regardless of how long that list is when you came to Christ, that entire list was wiped clean. God forgave all your sins because of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for you. You don’t need any other reason to forgive someone because this one reason is enough.
A Terrible Example of Forgiveness
In Matthew 18, Jesus tells the story of the unmerciful servant. Allow me to sum up the story for you. A man owed the king a debt of ten thousand bags of gold. Just for perspective, one bag of gold was the equivalent of twenty years of a day laborer's salary. This servant owed ten thousand bags. It would have taken him two hundred thousand years to repay the debt, which means the debt was never going to be repaid. Not by him, not by his family, nor by any generations of people that came after him. However, even though he owed the king this much debt, the king chose to show him mercy and forgive his debt. This same servant then went out and found a man who owed him a hundred silver coins which was the equivalent of a day’s pay. This man could have easily repaid this debt, possibly in as little as one day. However, this servant had the man thrown in jail because he could not repay him. When the king heard this, he rebuked him and had him thrown in jail because he failed to show mercy and forgiveness for a small debt after he had received it for his big debt.
May I ask you to guess who we are in the story? By comparison, we are the man who owed a debt we would never be able to repay, and yet God, in his mercy, forgave us. After having received so much mercy, why then do we harbor unforgiveness toward those who have hurt us? Unfortunately, saying “but you don’t know what they did to me” is not good enough. If you should ever feel this way, all you have to do is remember how big your sin list was and how many times you violated God’s commands and yet today, you stand forgiven. Let me say this. There is no reason to justify not wanting to forgive someone. It does not matter what they have done. To think otherwise is to behave like this unmerciful servant forgetting how big a sin debt you really owed. Let’s not be that person.
A Practical Exercise
As you look inward today, ask the Lord to show you if there is anyone you have not forgiven, and then forgive that person. Forgiveness does not mean you forget; it means you no longer hold it against that person. When you can do that, you are operating in the grace and forgiveness you have received. I promise you will be thankful that you did.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
Forgiveness is not just for the other person. Forgiveness releases you from the grip the other person’s actions have over your life.
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.