Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (NIV) Ephesians 4:32
How are we to respond to God’s forgiveness of our sins? Simple. We are to forgive others just as God has forgiven you. You are expected to willingly grant forgiveness whenever another person confesses sin to you. You may be thinking: “Not a prayer of a chance! I can’t do this!” Well there’s hope. God has enabled you to forgive others. You can love even your enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). But, remember, both forgiveness and Biblical love are not dependent upon your feelings, but instead, upon an act of your will (John 14:15; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15) as you respond to God’s love for you.
What we forgive:
Forgive any type of sin, no matter how severe or devastating it might seem to you.
How often we forgive:
Forgiveness is to be granted without limitation when requested. (Matthew 18:21-22; Luke 17:3-4, 10)
Why we forgive:
We forgive on the basis of grace, not upon the merit of the person you are forgiving – remember, forgiveness gives the offender that he needs, rather than what he deserves.
What to expect after forgiveness:
You are to expect a renewed relationship with the one who is forgiven.
Forgiveness is not always easy. It may be costly to you when you grant forgiveness. And it may be difficult because forgiveness should include comforting those who have sinned (and have repented). On top of that, you are to reaffirm your love to them (2 Corinthians 2:6-8). . .and when you forgive completely, you are not to remind the forgiven person of his sin in an accusing manner. (NOTE: It may not be appropriate to release the offender from all the consequences of his sin. There are times to remind the individual of his sin for his own restoration or for teaching purposes. But, even then it must be done with a spirit of gentleness).
Forgiveness can be tough. . . but, isn’t it wonderful that no matter what sins we have committed that God never withholds His forgiveness from us!