Offering forgiveness to others is one of the most difficult and important aspects of the Christian life. The Bible clearly commands us to forgive others. God longs to fashion us into his likeness that we might model the love we’ve been shown to a world with no concept of mercy. He longs for us to offer grace and forgiveness to the undeserving as we have been offered grace and forgiveness when we were undeserving. May you be filled with courage and boldness to offer forgiveness to those in desperate need of grace. And may God’s love shine through as you enter into your calling as a minister of reconciliation.
Scripture:“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
One of the most vital aspects of offering continual forgiveness is living without expectation of perfection from others. You will never meet a perfect human. All of us suffer from the same sinful, broken condition. And as believers, our lives are a reflection of God’s grace transforming what was once wholly sinful into pictures of his love. Even in this reflection, we will never experience perfection until we pass from this world to the next and live in perfect, uninhibited relationship with our heavenly Father.
Psalm 103:10-14 offers us insight into the expectations of God in regards to our sin. May the perspective of our heavenly Father be our model for forgiveness:
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
God offers us continual love, grace, compassion, and forgiveness because he knows that we’ve come from dust and will return to dust once again. He knows the sins and symptoms of brokenness that entangle us. And he offers us forgiveness for our sin and grace to live righteously in the future. If we are ever going to live in the fullness of life available to us, we must learn to be like our Father. We must learn to live without an expectation of perfection from anyone. It isn’t pessimistic to view everyone as imperfect. Rather, it’s a perspective that will allow us to love and enjoy others to the fullest.
Our heavenly Father longs to guide us to a lifestyle of forgiveness because he longs for us to live with the fullness of joy. Our God’s greatest delight is relationship with his people, and it was in forgiveness by the death of Jesus that restored relationship was made possible. We are made in the image of our Father. We are created to enjoy fellowship with one another, uninhibited by the bitterness and resentment that comes from unforgiveness. We are made to have our hearts open and full of love for one another. But in order to live the abundant life, we must free ourselves from placing others on a platform of perfection they will never attain.
Take time in guided prayer to allow God to fill you with his perspective. Allow him to set you free from the expectation of perfection for others. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” May you become like your heavenly Father: filled with love, grace, and forgiveness for all those who fall short of perfection around you.
1. Meditate on the nature of our imperfection as humans. Allow God’s word to fill you with grace for the sins and mistakes of others.
“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
2. Who have you been elevating to the status of perfection? Whom do you need to offer grace to who didn’t meet your expectations?
3. Ask the Lord to fill you with grace, mercy, and forgiveness for others. Ask him to give you his perspective. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to a greater portion of joy and life today as you free others from the expectation of perfection.
“He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:10-14
Along with freeing others from the expectation of perfection, if we will offer ourselves the same grace and mercy that our heavenly Father does, we will experience new levels of joy and freedom. While God has offered us a path to total freedom from sin, he has the fullness of compassion for our weaknesses. Don’t strive for perfection in your works, but instead pursue a deeper relationship with the God of love and grace. You weren’t created to live perfectly in your own strength, but to know the love of the Father and allow him to empower you for the life to which you have been called. May you free yourself from the burden of perfection today and pursue greater intimacy with your heavenly Father.
Extended Reading: Psalm 103
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