What is forgiveness? Why is it important to forgive

Forgiveness is recognizing that someone has committed an offense against you but deciding to let go of the grudge and the desire for retribution against that person. True forgiveness is a decision made with God’s help and that frees you. We must forgive because God has forgiven us so much more.

Forgiving is not demanding payment

When a person sins, it is like contracting a debt: you have to pay it. The price of sin is death and separation from God ( Romans 6:23 ).

We all sin but God loves us so much that he decided to pay the price for us. He came to earth and died in our place. Jesus had no sin, so the price he paid was not for his life. As God, your payment is sufficient throughout the world. Thus, God found a way to do justice and also offer forgiveness. The debt was paid ( 1 Peter 3:18 ).

When you accept Jesus as your savior, you recognize that the price is too high for you to pay and accept Jesus’ payment instead. Then God forgives you, the debt is paid and He does not hold a grudge. But if you reject Jesus, you reject His offer to pay your debt. Then you remain responsible for paying and there is no place for God to forgive.

When a person sins against you, it is normal to want justice. That person did a wrong thing and deserves to pay. That is true, but you are not the one who has to demand payment. God is the Judge, He charges. When you forgive, you leave the debt with God and continue your life knowing that the debt has been paid. You stop being the judge and give that responsibility to God.

Want to know more? Find out here what the Bible teaches about forgiveness .

Why forgive?

  • Because God forgave you– your sins may seem small compared to someone else but they are all impossible to pay. If God is perfectly just and has forgiven you, you must also forgive. – Matthew 18: 23-35
  • Because it liberates– when you liberate forgiveness, you not only liberate the offender from your hatred; you are also free. Forgiveness causes more problems for the offended than for the offender, it brings bitterness and can destroy your life ( Proverbs 27: 4 ).

See here: How can I forgive?

Forgive and forget?

No, forgiving is not forgetting. When the Bible says that God “forgets” our offenses, it means that he never charges again. Likewise, when you forgive a person, you no longer charge for that sin. Forgetting does not help to forgive, it just ignores the problem. To forgive is to face the problem and recognize its negative impact, then decide to leave any desire for retribution.

Is forgiveness ignoring justice?

No, forgiveness is not ignoring justice. Forgiveness is leaving justice in the hands of God, who is perfectly just. You condemn sin but it is no longer your problem, it is a problem between the other person and God.

Some sins also have a different price, such as imprisonment. Forgiving does not mean letting a dangerous person go free. You can testify against the offender in court, being honest but without a grudge or a desire for revenge.

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