Ephesians 4:32 - Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
     I've come to realize that the way I understand and practice forgiveness is directly related to how I view God's forgiveness towards me. Too often, I find myself making forgiveness conditional, believing that God will only forgive me if I somehow earn it or pay penance for my wrongdoings. But this is not the picture of forgiveness that Christ demonstrates.
     In any relationship, whether with friends, family, or even God, disappointment, pain, and suffering are inevitable. We are all sinful people, and our selfishness can cause harm to those around us. My natural response to these negative experiences has been to build walls, filter out the bad, protect myself, or even run away. But God's response is always forgiveness.
     True forgiveness is unconditional and generous. It's not a power play or a passive-aggressive tactic to make the other person feel the full weight of their actions. Instead, it's a freely given gift that serves as the foundation of Christ's love for all of humanity. When we forgive, we are not absolving the wrongdoer of responsibility or minimizing the pain they have caused. Rather, we are choosing to release our right to revenge or retribution, trusting that God is the ultimate judge and that His justice will prevail. By extending forgiveness, we are reflecting the heart of God, who "does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities" (Psalm 103:10). This act of grace has the power to break cycles of bitterness and resentment, allowing for the possibility of restored relationships and personal healing.
     Loving relationships are what life is all about, and forgiveness is the key to maintaining these relationships in the face of our sinful nature. When I allow God's definition of forgiveness to guide my own relationships, I find that my love becomes less conditional. I no longer feel like I'm constantly juggling plates, trying to keep everything from crashing down.
     Forgiveness says, "I still love you, even though you've disappointed me or caused me pain." This is the kind of love that Christ has for us, and it's the kind of love that I want to embody in my own life. It's a love that looks beyond the surface of our actions and sees the inherent worth and value in each person as a child of God. It's a love that is patient, kind, and long-suffering, always hoping for the best and believing in the power of redemption. When we choose to forgive, we are not only extending love to the person who has wronged us, but we are also allowing ourselves to experience the freedom and peace that comes from letting go of anger and resentment. In this way, forgiveness becomes a gift not only to others but also to ourselves, enabling us to live more fully in the abundant life that Christ has promised us.
     Of course, the fear and pain that come from being in relationship with sinful people are still present. But I find comfort in knowing that God's love for me is not marred by sin. I have a heavenly Father who will comfort me when I am wounded and heal my wounds. This doesn't mean that the pain magically disappears or that the consequences of sin are erased, but it does mean that I can bring my hurt and brokenness to God and find solace in His unwavering love. In the midst of the struggles and challenges that come with living in a fallen world, I can cling to the promise that God is always with me, working for my good and the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). This knowledge gives me the strength to press on, even when forgiveness feels impossible, trusting that God's grace is sufficient for me and that His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
  1. Forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian faith, and our understanding of forgiveness is deeply tied to our perception of God's forgiveness towards us. When we grasp the magnitude of the forgiveness we have received through Christ's sacrifice, it can radically change the way we approach forgiving others. How does our understanding of God's forgiveness impact the way we extend forgiveness to others? What practical steps can we take to align our practice of forgiveness with the example set by Christ?
  2. Relationships are an essential part of life, but they can also be a source of pain and disappointment due to our sinful nature. Forgiveness is the key to maintaining and strengthening these relationships, even in the face of hurt and betrayal. When we allow God's definition of forgiveness to guide our relationships, we can experience a deeper, more unconditional love. How can embracing Christ-like forgiveness transform our relationships with others? In what ways might practicing unconditional forgiveness help us build more resilient and loving connections with the people in our lives?

1 Comment

Ronald C. Mozzone - March 9th, 2024 at 2:08pm

Jeremy: I posted this via a text message to a few close friends, before I read you post.

"Forgive :

We're all human, and we have all hurt and been hurt. But to forgive others takes a choice. We may want justice, vengeance, or an apology. Or, like I am in a habit of doing, making excuses for why I did something, justification of self. It's only when I STOP and look at the mess I have made and the hurts I have caused and realize my failures. Then, my need for forgiveness, that I receive from God, now, I am understanding of what forgiveness takes. It takes Grace and Love to be able to forgive. Something that is given to me by God, and now I can give it to others. Christ died for our sins, and we accepted Him as our Savior, and now we are His, all offenses are given to Him to keep track of. We no longer expect a lost world to treat us right. We trust that He has us in His hands, and His will for us is sufficient. Forgive as you have been forgiven."

Thanks for your thoughts, brother.




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