-BY MRS. AYOOLUWA OMONITAN
ILESA SOUTH WEST DIOCESE, IBADAN PROVINCE
Introduction-What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a word derived from the root word “forgive”. To forgive means to decide that you will not be angry with someone who has offended, upset or harmed you. Forgiving is the act of forgetting that someone has offended or harm you as well as the offense or harmful or annoying act which they did.
Forgiveness is a very sensitive key factor in our journey in life as humans. We start with being forgiven by God. For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory: and as we repent, we are forgiven (Mark 6:12). As we all need forgiveness, even so, all needs to forgive. This is why Jesus Christ taught us in His prayer (the Lord’s prayer) “forgive us our sin as we forgive those who sin against us” Matthew 6:12. So you first need to forgive before you can be forgiven. Every human created by God has an error or the other in character, no one is perfect, therefore there is no way we cannot but offend one another, this is why forgiveness is very needful.
When should we forgive?
All the time, not only 70 x 7 as in Matthew 18:21 – 22 (no one can even offend you 70 times in a day). If we want peaceful coexistence, we must learn to forgive all offenses.
How should we forgive?
This leads us in a brief examination of the types of forgiveness:
- Partial forgiveness: this is human forgiveness, you hear people saying “I forgive you but I can never forget”, this is not forgiveness at all.
- Total forgiveness: this is God’s type of forgiveness. In Acts 3:19, the scripture says, ‘repent therefore and turn again that your sins may be blotted out’. Blotted out means rubbed off, no memory of it again. This is the kind of forgiveness that God requires from you.
Forgive and forget, having no memory of the offense, let alone making reference to it again. When you don’t forgive and forget it means that your anger still persists. Some people’s unforgiveness lingers for years, when they see their offender or even hear his/her voice or name, the anger rises.
Way out of unforgiveness
- Have a regenerated heart. Be born again
- When someone offends you, first pray, talk it over with God, narrate the story to Him and pray for the person
- Call the person and talk it over with him/her
- Make up your mind forget the offense, never make reference to it even if the fellow keeps committing the offense over and over again
- Give yourself to the study of God’s word, power your heart with it
Moreover, every human on earth is bound to offend one another but the grace to forgive has been given by God. Actually, since we are created in God’s image, we share His attributes. God Himself got angry in Genesis 6, He destroyed the whole earth with flood, in Genesis, He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire. Even Jesus our perfect example, got angry in the bible when He flogged the people buying and selling out of the temple. However, in all these, our God is still loving and made a way of escape for us by sending Jesus Christ to the world (John 3:16) and Jesus in turn gave His life, died, was buried, resurrected and is now seated in heaven on the right hand of God pleading for us. In Him we have forgiveness of our sins, if we come to Him in humility, He is faithful and just to forgive us (John 1:8 – 9). No matter how grievous our sin is.
In conclusion, if God can forgive us our sins, we also have to forgive one another. To take offense or get angry is not to sin, but to let sin/offense linger in our heart is sinful (Ephesians 4:26) “be angry and sin not”. All the above is easier said than done. It is the Holy Spirit alone that can help us to overlook sins and forgive offenses totally.