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What Has God Forgiven You For? - Forward with Back to the Bible - April 14

  • 2022 Apr 14

What Has God Forgiven You For?

April 14

Read Ephesians 4:32 (ESV) 

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Reflect

How does remembering your own sin and faults help you forgive others?

When is the last time you stopped and remembered all that God has saved you from and forgiven you for? If it’s been a while, I encourage you to take some time to get alone with the Lord and remember your story. Not to dwell on the past but because it’s always good to remember what God has done for you and how He has worked in your life. Plus, remembering how much you’ve been forgiven for makes you more likely to offer forgiveness to others.

In today’s verses, the apostle Paul instructed the Ephesian church to be kind, soft-hearted, and to forgive each other. Now, this may seem simple and straightforward. But we all know that in practice, this is often easier said than done. It is hard to be kind to unkind people. It is difficult to be tenderhearted towards cold and harsh people. And of course, it is not easy to forgive people who have deeply hurt you. But that is precisely why Paul included “as God in Christ forgave you.” Paul was encouraging the Ephesians to remember the mercy and grace that they had been given from God and to extend the same to each other.

Yesterday, we discussed Paul’s personal testimony. He called himself the “foremost” or “chief” among sinners. Paul hadn’t forgotten how he had persecuted the church. And yet, once Jesus got ahold of him, his life was completely transformed. He fully understood that he didn’t deserve God’s forgiveness, but he received it anyway. That’s why he was able to charge us with forgiving others as well.

I know forgiving others isn’t easy, especially if they haven’t asked for it. “You don’t understand how much they’ve hurt me!” you say. “They don’t deserve it, they have never apologized, and they aren’t even sorry!” If you are thinking that way, you are right. I don’t know what they’ve done to you, they probably don’t deserve to be forgiven, and they may not ever apologize and be truly sorry and repentant.

But what strikes me is that when Jesus confronted Paul on the road to Damascus, Paul had done great damage to believers in Christ. Paul even approved of Stephen’s stoning! To say that he hurt the early church prior to his conversion is an understatement. There is no record of Paul apologizing to Jesus before He appeared to him on the road. In fact, in Acts 9:1, we see the opposite. As he went down the road, it says, “but Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord….” Jesus appeared to him while he was still actively involved in his sin! You see, God had a plan to draw Paul to repentance and then use him in a big way even before Paul was sorry for what he had done.

The fact is, that is what Jesus has done for all of us. In Romans 5:6-10, Paul explained how God had a plan to fix our relationship with Him even before we repented and asked for forgiveness: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

Friends, Christ died for us while we were still sinners. We didn’t deserve it, we hadn’t confessed or apologized yet, and we weren’t even sorry! And yet, God made a way for us to be reconciled to Himself through Christ. When we remember that, it should humble us and help us be able to set aside our hurts and offer forgiveness to others. So, what’s your story? What has God in Christ forgiven you for? Who do you need to offer forgiveness to?

Pray 

Lord, I confess that it is hard to forgive people who have deeply hurt me. I admit that I am tempted to withhold mercy to some people. But God, I know that I am no different from any one else. I have sinned just like all have sinned (Romans 3:23). And yet, you forgave me! Help me to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to others. Amen. 

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