Forgiveness is key in the life of every Christian. In fact, Jesus said that if we don’t forgive, God will not forgive us. So then, you see the importance and power of forgiveness.
A few years ago, I came face-to-face with a decision, and I made a new commitment to seek God first in my life. One of the very first things He brought to my attention was this area of forgiveness. I went on a little journey, uprooting all the bitterness I had allowed to take a place in my heart. God gave me the grace to do so, and He brought me freedom.
Recently, I discovered that some unforgiveness had again crept into my life. Strangely, it was of a much different type than in the past. All the past hurts I dealt with were very personal: cherished relational offenses. This time around, the offense was on a corporate level, but my bitterness was just as personal.
I didn’t even know this person. He’s a high-profile leader in the worldwide Church who committed adultery, divorced his wife and married his mistress. And I took personal offense at this, not only for my sake, but for the sake of everyone impacted by his sin. That was the deception. I justified my own sin of unforgiveness with the excuse that another’s sin affected other people. I believed a lie, and God brought me back to the truth.
Jesus calls us to forgive, even when the offending party isn’t sorry. We can pray for them and bless them in the midst of their sin, because we all have sinned. Every single one of us has, at one point or another, treasured evil in our heart. And God has forgiven every sin of those who repent and believe.
Ultimately, this is the work of advancing the Kingdom of God. We are sent out to proclaim the extravagant forgiveness of the Father, the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.'”–John 20:22-23