One of the most radical teachings that Jesus taught and exemplified in his life was the teaching of forgiveness. His teachings on letting go of judgments and releasing forgiveness to others challenge our social norms and tendencies in every way. Our hearts seek revenge naturally. We seek to bring justice and make wrong things right. Jesus teaches us to be radical in our following his example by giving forgiveness and grace freely to others who do not deserve it.
What did Jesus teach about forgiveness?
- Jesus teaches us not to harbor anger and bitterness but to confront people about the ways they have hurt us.
- Jesus teaches us not to gossip and slander people but rather to go directly to them about the offense.
- Jesus teaches us that when we learn to let go of our offenses and come together in agreement that He will be in our midst.
- Jesus teaches us that when we walk in this radical forgiveness that anything is possible.
- Jesus teaches us to forgive others even when they hurt us over and over and over again.
- Jesus teaches us to see that the debt we may be owed by others pale in comparison to the debt we owe due to our sins before God.
- Jesus teaches us that if we don’t forgive others that we actually forfeit the incredible blessings that come from enjoying the forgiveness and grace of God.
How did Jesus model forgiveness?
- Jesus modeled forgiveness for us by going to the cross for the sins of humanity.
- Jesus modeled forgiveness by making a declaration of forgiveness from the cross for the people who had actually put him there.
- Jesus modeled forgiveness by openly forgiving the sins of the guilty man on the cross next to him and telling him that he would go to heaven.
How should we respond?
- Receive forgiveness – First we need to receive the grace and forgiveness from God for our sins and the things from the past! It’s a free gift!
- Romans 3:21-24
- Give forgiveness – Because of the incredible grace that we have been shown we have the ability to now forgive and show grace to others who may owe us a debt.
Ask for forgiveness – The reality is that we all have hurt others, offended them or not fulfilled our commitments to others. We need to make these wrongs right by going to them and asking that they would forgive us for whatever wrong we have committed
Why are we able to walk in forgiveness?
We are able to walk in radical forgiveness because we can trust that we have a heavenly Father who causes everything that happens in our lives to work for our good. This doesn’t mean that God wants these things to happen or even intended that they would happen to us. This simply means that we can trust that in Christ we have the victory and that no matter what happens to us we will never be separated from God’s love, mercy, and grace.
Understanding our position of victory empowers us to overcome bitterness, anger, and rage and to release grace to others. Walking in this love of God enables to overcome our hurts and extend that same undeserved love to others.
For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one–for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one–for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:29-39 NLT)