What difference can forgiveness make in our lives? If someone forgives us, we have received a great gift. When we forgive others, we offer them a great gift and ourselves an opportunity to move forward in life. It all starts from the forgiveness we’ve received from the Lord.
Psalm 130:3-4 states – “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.” All of us commit sins. If the Lord kept a record of them, they would take up long scrolls or multiple pages of a notebook. Yet this Psalm states “IF you kept a record of sins, who could stand.” It implies that God has a forgiving heart and shows a willingness to forgive. The Psalmist wrote these verses BEFORE Jesus and the cross. So there was already an understanding that God is ready and willing to forgive.
Then came the cross and the actual payment for our sins with Jesus’ blood. I find that when I ponder the cross and imagine Jesus on it, my pride melts. I am humbled and reminded of the great gift given to me. I can then begin the journey of forgiving others.
Yet this is hard and complicated. Does the person who hurt us realize the pain they inflicted? Did they repent of wrongdoing? Did they even ask for forgiveness? Can we forgive someone who denies they’ve done wrong?
Yet harboring and holding onto bitterness can harm us. Ephesians 4:31 states “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” It can also damage our health. An article Pastor Serge referred to me talks about the negative health effects that come with refusing to forgive. It states “Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, levels of anxiety, depression and stress. And research points to the forgiveness-health connection as you age.” The article goes on to explain other health issues and benefits of seriously engaging in a forgiveness process.
Certainly, we crave justice when someone wronged us. God’s just character will not allow injustice to go unpunished. Yet He brought that all together at the cross. Justice was served on our sins placed on Jesus. Forgiveness is available to anyone who confesses their sin and trusts in Him. From God’s forgiveness, we can receive power and strength to forgive one another.
“Lord God, we love to be forgiven. But, if we’re honest, we don’t love forgiving. Help us to see that the gift we’ve received from You can turn into a tremendous gift offered to another. Help us to forgive, as you forgave us. Thank you Lord.”
 “Forgiveness: Your health depends on it.” Hopkinsmedicine.org/health.
For a deep dive into the issues surrounding forgiveness I recommend Chris Brauns, Unpacking Forgiveness, Crossway, Wheaton, 2008. http://chrisbrauns.com/unpackingforgiveness/