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What Does It Mean to Forgive?

What Does It Mean to Forgive?

This is quite a loaded question! When considering all the implications of a small word packed full of meaning I found a definition I really liked.

“Biblical forgiveness is the process of forgiving someone or being forgiven as illustrated in the Bible. Forgiveness itself is defined as the letting go of sin. In the Bible, this includes forgiving everyone, every time, of everything, as an act of obedience and gratefulness to God. It acknowledges the sacrifice God made through His Son Jesus who died to restore the relationship between God and man. Forgiveness does not mean excusing, forgetting, permitting repetition of the sinful act against you, or guaranteeing reconciliation with the perpetrator.” (

I love how this definition describes forgiveness as letting go of sin. This is multifaceted because not only are we releasing someone, we are saying no to the invitation to sin. When we harbor unforgiveness then we ourselves are guilty of sin, being disobedient to God’s word.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Colossians 3:12-13 ESV

Christ chose to put himself between us, and the consequences of sin by offering his life. He has not only freely given us access to mercy but he has chosen to even forget every offense we ever committed! He doesn’t just forgive us, He allows us to live exonerated free from the shame of sins forgiven. Our mindfulness of such a gift should cause an overflow to all those we have contact with. Everyone is to be a recipient of forgiveness and withholding is not our right as children of God. Our job is to be obedient to the Word and leave the judging to God. When we put someone in His scales and release them from our resentment, we are not only free but we are in right relationship with God. Jesus Himself had to forgive those who mocked him, lied about him, and even murdered him by death on the cross. He trusted that it was God’s place to do the judging and His to do the obeying. In the same way, we are to follow his example and forgive those who have and will wrong us.

Pastor Natalie Snider


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