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Freed by Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a profound concept that can lead to healing broken relationships, restoring peace, and promoting emotional growth. It can often reduce feelings of anxiety, anger, resentment, and depression as well. Forgiveness is a central theme that resonates throughout scripture too. It's not only an act of mercy and compassion but also a divine command that echoes God's love for humanity. In this post, I’d like to consider the significance of forgiveness for everyone (not just the Church), its impact on individuals and communities, and its transformative potential.

The Command of Forgiveness
God's Word repeatedly emphasizes forgiveness as a central aspect of the Christian faith. Jesus Christ, the embodiment of love and compassion, taught His disciples to forgive others as God forgives them. In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus specifically instructs believers to ask for forgiveness and to extend it to those who have wronged them. Then again, in Matthew 18:21-22, Jesus encourages His followers to forgive not just seven times but 77 times, highlighting the endless need for forgiveness. This extreme example God uses really reinforces the importance of forgiving others.

The Potential of Forgiveness
Forgiveness is not only an act of obedience but also a liberating and transformative experience. When we forgive, we release ourselves from the burden of anger, resentment, and bitterness. The Bible teaches that forgiveness can eventually lead to healed wounds and restored relationships. In Ephesians 4:32, believers are urged to "be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

Moreover, forgiveness allows us to experience God's mercy and grace. As we forgive others, we align ourselves with God's will and His ultimate plan of redemption. By extending grace and mercy, we also mirror the love and forgiveness shown to us through the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. In my relational experience, offering forgiveness is a powerful way of modeling the gospel.

The Model of Forgiveness
The ultimate example of forgiveness, to the entire world, is Jesus Christ. Even as He was being crucified, the Lord forgave His executioners, saying, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). And before that, He forgave Peter and Judas for the inevitable betrayal. Through His sacrifice, Jesus provided the means for our sins to be forgiven, thus reconciling us with God.

As followers of Christ, we are called to imitate His example and extend mercy to others. Colossians 3:13 urges believers to "bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."

The Fruits of Forgiveness
God uses forgiveness to bring healing to individuals and communities alike. It fosters reconciliation, rebuilds trust, and paves the way for renewed relationships. When we choose to forgive, we break the cycle of retaliation and seeking our own vengeance. We also make room for God to alleviate mental health concerns, like depression, worry, stress, etc. 

Forgiving can also pave the way for emotional growth and spiritual transformation. It frees us from the bondage of resentment and bitterness, enabling us to live in peace and harmony. As we forgive, we open ourselves to the transformative work of the Holy Spirit, Who empowers us to love unconditionally and extend forgiveness to others. So ultimately, we receive grace and mercy to extend grace and mercy to the people we encounter—even (and especially) those who sin against us.

Forgiveness, as demonstrated in scripture, holds immeasurable potential. It's a divine command that brings healing and restoration, while also reflecting our obedience to God's will. By embracing forgiveness, we can experience God's transformative love and grace, fostering reconciliation and promoting relational growth. If you are struggling to forgive or just don't even know where to start, I would encourage you to consider biblical counseling. I can attest to the impact of working through these kinds of things, in a safe space. As I seek and extend forgiveness in my own life, I can see God setting me free in several ways!

- Ben Sheppard, Marketing & Development


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