The cost of forgiveness

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 22:34 NIV

It’s so hard to forgive, isn’t it?

When someone takes my words out of context, betrays a confidence, or slanders me, I respond by judging, lashing back, or harboring bitterness. Without forgiveness, relationships continue in endless cycles of hurt and retribution.

Forgiveness seems contrary to my nature. As a Christian, shouldn’t it be easier to forgive?

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6: 12, 14 NIV

Jesus says if we forgive people when they sin against us, our heavenly Father forgives us.

We have a choice. When we forgive, we recognize the cost of our forgiveness, and lovingly surrender our grievance.

Consider the cost Jesus paid for our forgiveness: his righteousness, his relationship with his Father, his life. While we were yet sinners, he died for us (Romans 5:8). We brought nothing to the table, but received redemption and eternal life. From the moment Jesus rose from the grave, death lost it’s power over us – in Christ we’re no longer condemned for our sins (Romans 8:1).

It isn’t surprising then, that our forgiveness is also costly. We’ve received unmerited favor from God, despite our transgressions. We, in turn, are to extend unmerited favor to those who offend us.

It may cost us our reputation. Our relationships may suffer. Some of us may even surrender our lives. But we will never be separated from the love of God (Romans 8:39-39). We will never suffer his wrath. Our mortal lives will end, but our eternity is secure in Christ (I John 5:13).

As we begin this new year, let’s surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ and allow his Spirit to flow in and through us as we forgive.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13 NIV

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18: 21-22 NIV

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