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Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Freelance: FORGIVENESS

"In this manner, therefore, pray ... forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors... For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
~ Matthew 6:12-15 (NKJV)

I don't hold grudges.

God has given me some strange, supernatural capability for forgiveness, for which I take absolutely no credit.

Maybe it's His way of countering my fiery temper, which He uses to humble me more often than I care to admit. Maybe it's simply because I've been one of the more flagrant sinners in my younger days, so I don't have any room to see anyone as a worse sinner than me. At the very least, I've come to see that I don't have the right to own an offense in the first place.

After David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then murdered her husband Uriah, he confessed to the Lord, "Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight." (Psalm 51:4). How could David not think he'd also sinned against Uriah?

Here's how I see it. In the Old Testament, certain penalties were charged if you injured a man's animal or a man's slave. If you caused the death of another man's animal, you compensated the man for his loss. If you caused injury to a slave, you didn't pay damages to the slave but to the man who owns the slave. A slave has no right to own a debt from someone else.

I belong to God. He created me, then He bought me with His blood. I gladly serve Him as my Owner and Lord. As His bondservant—His slave—I don't have the right to own a debt from anyone else. Any damages to me are owed to Him. Since God is Creator and owns everyone, He alone is owed any debt for sin against me.

So then why would Jesus instruct us to forgive, lest our Father not forgive us? Because while God's forgiveness frees us from sin's eternal consequences, it is our own forgiveness which frees our hearts from sin's consequences while we remain on earth. In the act of forgiveness, my heart releases the sin which injures me for as long as I hold onto it. My Father can then begin to heal my heart of its injury.

Make no mistake, forgiveness is different than trust. An unrepentant offender may not be worthy of trust, and our relationship cannot be fully restored without it.

Forgiveness also does not deter righteous accountability. To forgive is to acknowledge that execution of justice belongs only to the Judge of heaven and possibly a judge of earth. Without an example of earthly righteousness, how shall anyone fear heavenly judgment? Yet in the same moment I myself forgive and love my offender, I might testify to my offender's guilt and release to a human court the execution of justice, even the death penalty.

Here is the ultimate love. God declares us worthy of an eternal death penalty for our sin against Him—and then steps into human flesh to take the death penalty upon Himself. Our model for forgiveness is Jesus, who forgave the people in the very act of nailing Him to a cross.

Q: Is any sin too great for my forgiveness?
A: No sin is too great for the blood of Jesus to cleanse and God to forgive, so no sin is too great for me to forgive.

Feedback invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. Thank you for always sharing the truth, and love of Jesus my friend.

  2. Denise, it is my privilege to share love of Jesus. I can't help myself!

  3. It's amazing how deep the ocean of our saviors forgiveness is. A perfect abyss.

  4. "...forgiveness is different than trust." That's a great point, and one that too few people understand.

    I think that the more we are given over to sin before we're saved, the greater Christians we can become. We understand the fragility that is the human mind, so able to rationalize everything to our own advantage. We've been forgiven for much, and so we must forgive much, too.

    Loved this post.

  5. Billy, it's barely possible that when we know how very much we've been forgiven, not only is our capacity to forgive increased, but our capacity for love.


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