by Clinton Williams
What is forgiveness? A simple Google search defines forgiveness as “the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven”. But how does the Bible define forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a recurring theme in the Bible. Through and through God has offered us forgiveness and even sent his only son Jesus to Earth as an ultimate sacrifice for our sins. From the beginning we see man’s sin begin when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. The story could have truly ended there if God had not already have forgiven them. He sent them away from the garden, but he spared their lives.
As a Christian, it can often be difficult to forgive easily. I know from personal experience that when someone hurts you deeply, that you may never want to forgive that person. Perhaps you have done something you have deemed unforgivable. We have to remember that we are not perfect, and neither is our fellow-man. Are we as eager to forgive as God wants us to be?
Here are four tips on the action and process of forgiveness. Hopefully, these tips will help you understand how to forgive yourself and others.
1. Acknowledge the need. By acknowledging the need for forgiveness, we are recognizing that something is wrong. If we do not know we are injured, how can we heal? God wants you to confess your sins so that you may be forgiven and begin to heal.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
2. Ask for forgiveness. When we are truly sorry for an action against someone, manners dictate that we apologize. When someone does something against us, we all appreciate an apology. We have to be willing to ask for forgiveness so that our relationship with God, and with others can begin to mend. Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”
3. Offer forgiveness to others. God wants us to forgive and we want to be forgiven. Yet, in some cases, we can find ourselves upset at those who have wronged us. It’s a bit hypocritical. Not forgiving others completely clogs the forgiving process. This point is addressed in Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, you heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
4. Accept forgiveness. When we feel guilty, we doubt. This doubt can affect all areas of life: school, work, and home. God sent his son Jesus as a sacrifice. He is our father and loved us before we were born. As his children, we should understand that we will make mistakes, but our Father has already forgiven us. We must be willing to accept forgiveness, so that we may move forward in confidence, not doubt. Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tender-hearten, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
In each verse you can see an exchange occurring, forgive to be forgiven. So how do we forgive? These tips could help in rejuvenating not only a relationship with God but potential with family and friends. We must be willing to acknowledge, ask, offer, and accept forgiveness as God commands us to do.