What is forgiveness? Let’s find out.
The Dictionary defines “forgive” as:
stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake:
“I don’t think I’ll ever forgive David for the way he treated her”
synonyms: pardon · excuse · exonerate · absolve · make allowances for ·
feel no resentment toward · feel no malice toward · harbor no grudge against · bury the hatchet with · let bygones be bygones · let off (the hook) · exculpate.
Now that we know what it is, let’s talk about it.
The Bible tells us of a forgiveness that is Divine. That is, God restoring a relationship with man that was severed by sin. He removes all guilt. He forgives the sin and the sinner alike.
In the Old Testament, one of the things associated with God was mercy. Some descriptions are “slow to anger”, “abounding in love and mercy”, and “compassionate and gracious” (Exodus 34:6 ; Numbers 14:18 ; Nehemiah 9:17 ; Psalm 86:15 ; 103:8 ; 145:8 ; Joel 2:13). God does not treat his people in the way their sin deserves (Ezra 9:13-15 ; Psalm 78:35-38 ; 103:8-10).
But He is also jealous ( Exodus 20:5 ; 34:14 ; Deuteronomy 4:23-24 ; 5:9 ; 6:15 ; Joshua 24:19-20 ; 1:2 ). Don’t forget, God is righteous and holy and will punish sin ( Exodus 34:7 ; Numbers 14:18 ; Nahum 1:3).
God can also forgive a nation or city. For example, take the city of Nineveh. They were an evil people who did evil deeds. And that’s being nice! God was going to judge them, but decided to be merciful. He sent Jonah to warn them of the impending judgement, to give them a chance to repent. Jonah didn’t think he was up to the task. But God made a way to get him to Ninevah. The Ninevites believed Jonah, repented of their evil ways and were spared (Jonah 3:8).
The way God forgives nations can be summed up in Jeremiah 18:7-8 “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.”
Jesus has instructed us to forgive our brothers and sisters who sin against us seventy-seven times (Matthew 18:22).
The concept of forgiveness and the word forgive appear in many forms throughout the Bible.
The word “Forgiveness” is mentioned in the NIV bible 14 times. Once in the Old Testament and 13 times in the New Testament.
Forgiveness, as a concept, is mentioned more frequently. For example, the word “forgive” appears 42 times in the Old Testament and 33 times in the New Testament. The word “forgiven” appears 17 times in the Old Testament and 28 times in the New Testament. And the word “forgiving” appears 6 times in the Old Testament and 1 time in the New Testament.
God requires that we forgive others just as He forgives us. The act of forgiving someone for doing you wrong is a difficult thing to do. Carrying it around does more damage to you than it does to the other person. It can be very liberating to forgive that person, and release yourself from anger and resentment.
Though they are different concepts, I think the this old adage that speaks to carrying around unforgiveness: “Hate is like acid. It does more damage to the vessel in which it is stored, than to the object on which it is poured”.
The Steadfast Watchman