Forgive That One? You're Joking!

by Edward Langenback

© 4/19/2002

Have you ever been angry at someone that you had a hard time being able to forgive? Or perhaps there is someone that you still have not yet been able to forgive for something? Well, Part of knowing God and having Jesus as lord of your life means following His lead in the way that we treat others, and this especially includes the idea of forgiveness.

We need to understand how God wants us to act, and since God wants us to imitate him, we can learn how we are expected to live and act by looking at the examples that He has given us, both in the person of Jesus, and in many examples illustrations and clear direction in His word.

Eph 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

key word in this verse is 'followers', which is translated from the Greek mimetes {pronounced mim-ay-tace'} [strongs number 3402] and means an imitator. This would make it clear that just as a child imitates their parents, We are to imitate God and pattern our behavior after His. The obvious question is "Where does God stand concerning forgiveness?" First, it is important to realize something about just who God is:

1John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

God is the absolute personification of love. His personality is one of absolutely selfless, giving love. He proves this love by the fact that even though we have each and every one of us fallen short of His glory and broken His law, He still made the only sacrifice that could ever set us free from the guilt of and punishment for sin.

Rom 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

He did not wait for us to get our acts straight and stop sinning. He knows that by ourselves, without Him, we cannot ever live up to the standard of absolute righteousness that He, by his very nature, MUST require. Most important to note here, is that He did it while we were still in sin, totally undeserving of any mercy or kindness at all. As Jesus walked his final steps toward Golgotha, He was not cheered, or encouraged. He was beaten, spat upon, and treated with every kind of contempt. Yet despite all this, He showed His awesome love for us and even the very people who mistreated Him so by continuing His journey to crucifixion, ready and willing to pay the horrible price required to set us free from the slavery of sin. Even as He hung dying on the cross, He still forgave even the ones who were responsible:

Luk 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

In 1st Corinthians chapter 13 we are given a list of the attributes of love. Take a look at verse five in particular:

1Cor 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Of particular interest here is the statement that one of the attributes of Love is that it thinks no evil. Looking at those three words and how they were translated from the original language that they were written in makes more clear the meaning. Start with 'thinketh' which is translated from the Greek Word logizomai {Pronounced log-id'-zom-ahee} [Strongs number 3049] and means to take an inventory, i.e. estimate number, reason, reckon, suppose, think (on). Then 'no', which is translated from the Greek word ou {pronounced oo} [Strongs number 3756] and is a primary word referring to the absolute negative. Finally 'evil' is translated from the Greek word kakos {Pronounced kak-os'} [Strongs number 2556] and means worthless (intrinsically such); bad, evil, harm, ill, noisome, wicked.

- - - - From these definitions we can determine that love does not keep an inventory or list of wrongs that have been done. Nor does love keep thinking about evil things someone has done. Once again it is important to return to a verse quoted earlier:

1John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

Now, If love does not keep thinking about a list of wrongs that have been done, and God IS Love, then God does not keep thinking about a list of wrongs that we have done to Him. Instead, He is ready at a moment's notice to wipe out any and all sins that we have done. Our only requirement for this is to accept this forgiveness and repent (turn away from, go in the opposite direction of) our sins. By doing this, we are saying "God, Thank you for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. If you loved me that much, then I want Jesus to be the Lord of my life. I want to live not my own old life of sin, but His life of righteousness."

The common mistake here is to assume that this is where the lesson on forgiveness ends, but it has actually just begun. We're expected to forgive, and our own forgiveness is tied to our willingness to forgive others and the wrongs that they have done to us. In fact, Jesus Himself made it clear that our ability to be forgiven is dependant on our willingness to forgive others:

Mat 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Not only that, but even a born again, Bible believing Christian can suddenly find that his or her prayers seem to be ineffective. When this happens, the first thing that you should do is examine your own heart and mind. Look for those things that you are still angry and unwilling to forgive. When you forgive those things, you have become that much closer to God by following His example of being willing to forgive and make it stick. :

Mar 11:25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

A lack of forgiveness in the life of a Christian is a one step recipe for trouble, and as such, is to be deliberately avoided. First, unforgiveness in a Christian is, to say the least, a poor witness. Ask yourself some questions:

Can the unsaved person see Jesus in your life if they see that you are not willing to forgive something? No.

Is someone going to pay any attention to your message of the love of God if they can see by your actions and attitude that you are clearly not willing to forgive someone? No.

Unforgiveness will destroy the effectiveness of your witness. It will make your prayers without effect and it also shows that you yourself have an unrepentant heart because you are not willing to repent of (turn away from) your anger. This promotes Guilt, both in the person that you will not forgive, and in yourself because to forgive is an act of love. Where there is no love, there is hate. Where there is no love, God's blessing does not abide. Jesus made it clear that one of the main ways that people would know that someone follows Him is because of love:

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

One of the most important and often overlooked sides of the subject of forgiveness is that we must each forgive ourselves. This may sound funny to some, but it is true. So many people, Christians and non Christian, go through life feeling guilty for something that they have done, yet for the Born Again follower of Jesus the Anointed One there is absolutely no grounds to afflict oneself with guilt:

Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

This verse makes clear that someone who has genuinely repented and made Jesus Lord of their lives has absolutely no grounds for being guilty. All that we have to do to be sure that we do not deserve condemnation is to be in The Anointed Jesus, walking after the spirit, and not the flesh.

By satisfying the spirit of God that indwells us and not giving in to the lusts of the flesh that we are all exposed to daily, we can be assured that we are NOT under condemnation. We have been made righteous by accepting Jesus as Lord:

2Cor 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Are you qualified to claim this wonderful promise? Or perhaps you might be a Christian who could claim this yet you have some unforgiveness in your heart. If so, then I recommend that you pray something like this:

"Lord, I have not been the example of forgiveness that you want me to be. I have not shown your love toward others as you want me to. From this moment I repent of (turn away from) my unforgiving attitudes. I declare now that I forgive [give names] for all that they have done or that I think they have done. I declare that I will show the love of Jesus to [give names] in every way. Thank you Father, for your forgiveness, Thank you for becoming my Lord. Help me to freely give that forgiveness to others just as you freely gave it to me. In Jesus Name, Amen."