The act of forgiveness is vital to Christianity and to the church. To forgive means to grant full pardon to an offense or an offender; to restore an offender to a non-offender – one who has not offended.
How we praise God for His forgiveness which He freely granted us at salvation. We were born separated from God because of an inherited sin nature but when we came to Him through faith in Jesus Christ He forgave ALL our sin. At the moment of His forgiveness we became sinless in standing and our broken relationship with God was restored. THANK GOD FOR HIS FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION.
If we are truthful we know that even as Christians we sin against God. The Bible says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” I John 1:8. Upon recognizing our sin we must ask forgiveness from God who has made it simple but necessary. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins…” I John 1:9. Keeping a clean slate with God insures our restoration.
As Christians we are commanded to forgive one another – fellow Christians. Jesus said to the disciples, “…If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.” Luke 17:3. If a Christian offends us and asks to be forgiven we MUST forgive him as God forgave us at our request. In forgiving an offending Brother or Sister in Christ we restore them to a non-offender and our relationship is also restored. Forgiveness restores fellowship within the brethren.
The flip side to granting forgiveness is asking to be forgiven. If we know or are informed that we have wrongly offended another Christian it is mandatory that we ask the offended Brother or Sister in Christ for forgiveness. He/she is then obligated to forgive us and restore us to true fellowship. What a wonderful feeling it is for a fellow Christian, whom we offended, to forgive us and restore us to pure fellowship again.
Forgiveness and restoration are vital to the peace and unity of the church. Paul wrote, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness…” Galatians 6:1. When a church member is doing wrong Spirit filled men of the church are to meet with that person and restore him/her. This requires repentance and the asking for forgiveness by the offender, after which, the church grants forgiveness and restoration. FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION ARE NECESSARY FOR THE PEACE AND UNITY OF OUR CHURCH.
Let us not forget the supreme offer of forgiveness. As Jesus hung on the cross (our cross) He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. Imagine, Jesus asked God to forgive His murderers. That is the kind of forgiving attitude we Christians ought to have.
I pray that we will be careful to grant forgiveness to a fellow Christian when asked. I pray we will ask for forgiveness when necessary. I pray we will keep the peace and unity of the church by forgiving and restoring fellow Christians when needed. HELP US, DEAR GOD!