The Responsibility of Being Graciously Forgiven

Paul explains our basis for forgiving others in Ephesians 4:32, “forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

How does Christ forgive?

If you owe someone a debt, there are two ways this debt can be forgiven:

1) You can pay it off.
2) You can be released from your indebtedness by the grace of the loan holder.

If Christ forgives us after we have worked off our debt to Him, we would then only be responsible to forgive those who have worked off their debt to us. Forgiveness is straightforward and not that difficult.

If, however, Christ forgives by having mercy and compassion on us, seeing our inability mixed with our acknowledgment of that inability and looking to Him for mercy, we are forgiven.

Christ’s forgiveness of us is based on grace. God gives grace to the humble. Humility acknowledges inability and puts complete confidence in another to help. To deny this point is to miss one major theme of Scripture.

Christ’s died for the sins of the world. The potential for all to be saved is available to all who come to His grace through faith. If this is the way Christ forgives us, this then must be the way we forgive others.

We are ready to forgive all, and as much as it’s up to us, our forgiveness is sitting right there and is our outlook on others. This forgiveness is only received by those who want to be forgiven, however. I can’t forgive someone who refuses to be forgiven even if I am totally ready to forgive.

The fact that Christ forgives us in this gracious way puts a heavy responsibility on us in how we forgive others. Being forgiven due to working off debt is much easier to apply to others! But if I am to forgive as Christ forgives, wow, that’s rough–I have to do all I can to forgive all offense, even to personal injury.

One more reason why we need the indwelling Spirit and the transformative power of the Gospel!

2 thoughts on “The Responsibility of Being Graciously Forgiven”

  1. There are two things this brings to mind. First, the attitude of forgiveness springs from the love of God. “Love works no ill towards his neighbour” (Rom. 13:8). Therefore, the attitude or spirit of revenge has no place in a Christian.

    Ps. 103:8 – “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.”

    Lev. 19:18 – “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.”

    Those who are “forgiven much, love much.” Like the father of the prodigal son, the Christian is not concerned with himself or his own loss, but is only concerned that the one who offended against him sees his sin, and finds deliverance from it. If the sin involved taking from others, then real repentance will lead to restoration, wherever possible.

    But in this sentimental age, forgiveness has been twisted into a soft-dealing with sin. Many scriptures have been misapplied to support this, such as “going the second mile,” “judge not that you be not judged,” “all have sinned,” “God is love,” etc.

    But real forgiveness is a treasure from heaven, and God does not cast his pearls before swine. When Jesus said on the cross, “forgive them Father, for they know not what they do,” he was asking for probationary time to be extended for the Jewish nation, so they would have time to understand what they had done and obtain real repentance.

    And when the apostles came to them after and said, “You crucified the Lord of glory” (Acts 2:36, 1 Cor. 2:8), some did obtain real repentance. But at the stoning of Stephen, the Jews sealed up their time, and the word from God was “but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” (Acts 13:46)

    This was not soft-dealing with sin. God gave them time so that their sin was no longer a sin of ignorance. When they saw it for what it was, and still clung to it, there was no more forgiveness. God didn’t “take revenge” on them, He simply left them to themselves. But He made a clear division between them and the church. There was a separation. This also was to be a help to some of them, as Paul later wrote in Romans, that when they would see God’s working among the Gentiles, some might be moved to jealousy, and desire a part in the work again.

    So separation from sin and sinners is an important element in ministering forgiveness.

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