Forgive Others as God Has Forgiven Us

Forgive Others as God Has Forgiven Us

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
–Ephesians 4:32

In the Bible, there is an inseparable link between our receiving God’s forgiveness and our willingness to grant that forgiveness to others. In Ephesians 4:32, Paul said, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” We are to forgive others just as God has forgiven us.

So, how has God forgiven us? Romans 5 clearly explains how God forgives you and me, and therefore how we should forgive others. Romans 5:1 says, “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul went on to say, “While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. . . . God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (vv. 6, 8).

May I point out to you two simple principles about how God forgives us? First of all, God forgave us when we didn’t deserve forgiveness. We have this idea that somehow God only forgives those who deserve to be forgiven. But Jesus said in Matthew 9:12, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.” In the same way, it’s not the righteous who need a Savior; it is the unrighteous. God came to forgive sinners, including you and me. In Romans 3:10, Paul said, “There is none righteous, not even one.” Romans 5:6 says that God forgave us when we were helpless. God didn’t forgive us when we deserved to be forgiven.

Second, God forgave us on the basis of grace, not works. In other words, He didn’t make us do anything to earn His forgiveness; He granted it to us. Why did He do that? In Romans 4:4, Paul explained, “To the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.” When you go to work and receive a paycheck, your employer is not doing you a favor–you earned that money. If God allowed us to work for our salvation, then we would deserve our salvation. But God refuses to owe any man or woman salvation. That’s why verse 5 says, “To the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” God forgave us not based on our works but based on His grace.

How do we forgive others as God has forgiven us? First of all, we are to forgive those who don’t deserve to be forgiven. In our minds most of us have people we are willing to forgive and people we are unwilling to forgive. In our minds, there are what we consider “unforgivable sins.” Thank God that’s not in His mind. We are to forgive those who don’t deserve to be forgiven.

Second, we forgive others on the basis of grace, not works. We refuse to require somebody to earn our forgiveness. We grant it as a gift, just as it was granted to us.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Choosing Forgiveness Over Bitterness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.