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Why forgiveness is essential to the Christian life

26/11/2023
Why forgiveness is essential to the Christian life. A blog by Gillian Leggat.

Are you part of a Christian community?

Do you call yourself a Christian? Is your Christian faith truly genuine?

Then, forgiving others is non-negotiable.

There are many times in your Christian walk that you will feel wronged, hard done by and even betrayed. Yet you cannot afford to keep breeding resentment. It is absolutely essential that you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

Why is it so important to forgive?

If you are completely honest with yourself, you will come to the painful realisation that you have hurt many people and sinned against God with your actions – and lack of actions – words and thoughts. Think about all the times you have lied to someone or betrayed your confidence. Or said an unkind word. Or spread gossip or rumours in a deliberate attempt to blacken a person’s name. Or an uncharitable thought has popped into your head.

Try as we might not to do these things, we all fall into the trap of sin. Paul’s soul-searching comment in Romans highlights our failures: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3,23)

AND YET….

God forgives all our sins. Every single wrong thing we have ever done, every hurtful word we have ever uttered, every unsavoury thought that has ever crossed our minds.

How is it even possible that a perfect God who cannot tolerate sin in all its ugliness could do this? The answer, of course, is Jesus. The perfect God-man who loved the world so much that he took all their sins on his shoulders at the cross. He took your sins, my sins, and nailed them to the cross.

How can we not forgive others their sins against us when God, through his son, Jesus, has shown us such incredible grace and mercy?

The risks of not being willing to forgive

Having an unforgiving heart has all sorts of dangers: unforgiveness breeds resentment; it can poison your relationships, spreading rapidly like an aggressive cancer galloping through all your organs. It prevents you from being at peace with the person who has wronged you. It affects others as well, who might start avoiding the person who has wronged you, especially if they are part of their Christian community – they might also begin to keep you at arm’s length. Who wants to be around someone who is so bitter?  Even more alarmingly, it can destroy your peace, contentment and joy.

Jesus gives us a stern warning about the perils of unforgiveness: For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 16, 14-15) In the light of this serious warning from Jesus, we cannot risk not to forgive those who have wronged us.

What is the cure?

The Benefits of Forgiving Others

Forgiving others is one of the best medicines in the world. It is so very healing. It’s a balm for your pain, hurt and confusion. When you forgive others, you are being obedient to the Father’s commands. You are drawing closer to his son, Jesus. You are shining a light in the world. And as a bonus, you are experiencing rich personal growth. Your spirituality seems to grow with each small act of forgiveness you perform.

So forever hard forgiveness is an essential part of your Christian faith. It takes practice, prayer and perseverance, but the benefits are life-giving: peace, contentment and joy in this present life, and the liberating promise of being forgiven by the Father and spending an eternity with him and his son, Jesus, the Saviour of the world.

So why don’t you follow Jesus’ example (Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Luke 23,34) and forgive others from your heart. With such a lot at stake, you cannot afford not to do just that.

Breath of God by Gillian Leggat
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