he most beneficial, healing attribute of the Christian life is our capacity to forgive others who have sinned against us. When our spouse gets overbearing; our boss gets unfriendly; our friends get selfish; our children get obstinate; we can lash back – or we can forgive, because we have the promise of God’s love, acceptance, and forgiveness that He has commanded us to share with the world. And we can do it, because His Holy Spirit dwells within us, and Jesus first loved us:
1 John 4:19
We love, because He first loved us.
We often don’t feel like forgiving at first, because we as Christians are emotional flesh too. But because our minds are renewed in the Word of God, we can obey God’s Word, despite what we feel, and God’s Holy Spirit will confirm His presence in our lives.
In Mark 11:25-26 Jesus said:
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. 26 [“But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”]
Pre-Christian, self-absorbed Peter learned this, just like us:
1 Peter 4:8
8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Peter grew to understand the same depth of forgiveness as the woman Jesus forgave who washed His feet with her tears: “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47, 48).
Jesus also taught us to ask for others’ forgiveness if in word or deed we advertently or inadvertently sin against them:
Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
And we can do it all, because we have the mind of Christ:
1 Corinthians 2:16
16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.
Forgive Everyone Always for Everything, and Be Nobody’s Fool
A little maxim the Lord showed me years ago goes, “forgive everyone always for everything, and be nobody’s fool.” To be nobody’s fool is to be bold enough to caution others who mistreat us to respect us for who we are in Christ. We’ve all seen people at work who have no right to treat others the way they do. Whether they listen or not, there is a time of gospel witness to others when they choose to mistreat us and others in word or deed. Those in communist thought police gulags and in Islamic countries have already paid the price for obeying God’s Word, and will continue to pay the price. These are a special group of precious believers our free western lifestyle often forgets. The early church lived in such life-threatening conditions and understood the benefit of being home with the Lord if death for Christian obedience was their end.
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.
The burden of the deadly lifestyle of sin is on others, not us who are born again Spirit-filled believers. The physical sickness and disease released in the human body from hate and mental stress has been tested and documented. The peace that passes understanding inherent to the Holy Spirit’s indwelling cancels the degenerative deterioration brought upon by sin. Christians who choose to live in unbelief and unforgiveness forego the benefits of Christ’s forgiveness of their sins. I memorized Ephesians 4:31,32 years ago to fill my mind when I need to forgive someone for an offense.
Eph 4:31, 32
31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
My sins were forgiven 35 years ago, but I’m still prone to sin with what I say, at times. My admonition against this is in the preceding verses to Ephesians 4:31 and 32.
29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
I’ve learned to be relatively quick to repent, and to believe God. My mind is renewed in the Word of God, and I pray daily, so I’m quick to repent when I notice that, and quick to believe God. If I say something unkind, rare that it is, it’s usually in relation to some situation with my lovely wife Alisa of 32 years. It’s usually a disagreement about something, and until I resolve that something, I’m stuck in that sin. This is nowhere anyone needs to be. So I place my gift at the altar, am reconciled to her, then move on with life. Sometimes a critical word is said in reference to a political situation or against the foolishness of the politically correct world mind when I’m home or in the car, or against other drivers when I’m alone in the car. Each time, I repent before the Lord, because I know the benefit and healing of walking in God’s calm peace. It is His calm peace that defines our Christian life.
Yes, Jesus is coming again. Until then there is abundant life to be lived on this earth that God created for us. Have you sinned recently against God or against others in word or deed? Don’t get ensnared. Forgive everyone always for everything, and be nobody’s fool.
Mark and Alisa