The gift of forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts known to mankind. To make a conscious deliberate decision to release, let go of resentment or even vengeance towards someone or a group who has harmed you even if they do not deserve to be released, is a gift of immeasurable value.
Is it an easy gift to give? Sometimes it is, many times it is not. Is it an easy gift to receive? Sometimes it is, sometimes it is not. What we do know however, is that to forgive or be forgiven by another, brings great blessing, healing and freedom both for the person forgiven and the one who forgives.
To release the resentment, hurt, vengeance or even hatred that has been carried for days, weeks, months and sadly even years, removes the obstacle, be it a mole hill or a mountain that has stopped a sense of wellbeing and freedom which has destroyed relationships in families, friendships, communities and even nations.
Unforgiveness not only feeds the hurt and pain, and we know the hurt and pain can be extreme, but it also stops the healing process of them. Unforgiveness is the barrier that stops healing and reconciliation at whatever level, be it across the room or across the nations. Uneasy silence is a fruit of unforgiveness and it prevents all parties walking into freedom.
One of the great foundational truths of the Christian Gospel is the truth concerning forgiveness and freedom. In the Bible, God’ s Word for us today, the writers inspired by God’ s Holy Spirit, wrote that however many times a person sinned against God or another person, as soon as they confessed their sin to God and asked for forgiveness, they were forgiven.
Today, through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, God’ s Son, you and I can know and experience the gift of freedom that God’ s forgiveness provides. Here is the promise for us today.
” If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV)
The Psalmist David wrote, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said I will confess my transgressions to the Lord and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32 NIV) In another Psalm David wrote, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103: 12 NIV)
If we go to Him and confess our sins and turn from them, God will forgive us and not only that, but remove those sins as far as the east is from the west. Well, how far is that?
In the last few weeks, we have all been encouraged to social distance from one another, be that by two metres or one metre. We have all been conscious of the restrictions on distance we can travel. However, when it comes to God distancing us from our sins, wow, it’ s immeasurable.
How far is the east from the west? We are told that the distance from earth to the Milky Way, is about 25,000 light years away, a light year being the distance you travel at the speed of light, 183,000 miles a second. Scientists now believe there could be as many as 200 million galaxies and God forgives us as far as the east is from the west. That’ s got to be another WOW!
We are forgiven so that we can forgive. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray He taught, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”. He went on to say, “For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive you.” (Matthew 6 – NIV)
When Peter the disciple of Jesus asked Him, “How many times shall I forgive my brother, up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “Not seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18: 21-22 NIV)
Can you imagine a society where people readily forgive? What freedom, what health and wellbeing for ourselves, our loved ones, friends, neighbours and workmates. As you receive God’ s forgiveness, you can ask Him to help you forgive today. Even if it is a long-standing and painful issue, you can ask Jesus to help you be willing to forgive and then watch what He will do.
Talk to Him and begin your step into freedom now.
Ian Cole is the founder of the World Prayer Centre.