The Foundation of Forgiveness

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God wants us to trust His judgment of people who have wronged us, just as Jesus did.

Matthew 18:21-35
For followers of Christ, the goal is to become increasingly like Him, and one of the best ways to reflect His character is through forgiveness. Yet sometimes this is a quality we are reluctant to demonstrate because it seems so unfair, especially if the wrong done to us is ongoing or particularly painful. To forgive appears to diminish the offense and counteract justice.

Let’s correct several misperceptions about this aspect of our faith:

The foundation for our forgiveness of others is God’s forgiveness of us. Today’s passage contains a parable in which a man is forgiven a sum too exorbitant to repay. Yet he turns around and demands immediate payment from someone who owes him a small amount. That’s what we are like when we think others’ wrongs against us must be avenged even though God has forgiven us.

Unforgiveness torments us, not the wrongdoer. It’s a caustic poison within us that corrupts our emotions, stunts us spiritually, and stresses our bodies. When we don’t release the offender, we end up imprisoned in bitterness, resentment, and hostility—and that is sin.

Forgiveness doesn’t negate the wrong done to us. It doesn’t deny the offense or the resulting pain but lets go of the right to get even. Vengeance is God’s responsibility, not ours (Rom. 12:19). We don’t have all the facts, nor can we know the offender’s true motive. Only God can judge accurately and fairly.

When Jesus suffered the ultimate injustice of the cross, He entrusted Himself to the Father (1 Peter 2:21-24). Can you follow His example and trust God with wrongs done to you?

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