Forgive as You Have Been Forgiven
Read Colossians 3:12-13 (ESV)
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.
Why do you think it is so difficult for us to forgive someone? Regardless, why does Paul say that we must forgive others?
For most of us, forgiveness is not something that comes naturally. When we’ve been wronged, some of us are quick to retaliate. After all, we aren’t just going to stand there and take it. If someone hurt us, we’ll hurt them right back. Others of us can hold a grudge and nurse a wound for an extremely unhealthy length of time. We relive the hurt over and over again and repeatedly recite the wrong that was committed. We can’t let the perpetrator off the hook because what they did to us was wrong! The problem is, the longer we keep them on the hook, the longer we keep ourselves on the hook, too.
But in today’s verse, Paul says that the solution is not found in retaliation or in clinging to bitter resentment. The solution to wrongdoing is forgiveness. Why? Because the Lord has forgiven us.
When we’ve been wronged, often the only thing that comes to mind is the sin of the person who hurt us. In our minds, they are the ones who are sinful. They are the ones who should be ashamed of themselves. But the truth is? While they may be the one who sinned in this circumstance, we are all sinners. Chances are, you have also hurt someone just as deeply by your own actions.
Yes, we are all sinners. But Paul refers to us here as “God’s chosen ones.” Despite our sins, God chose us and offered us mercy and grace. Romans 5:8 says that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” As people who have been recipients of His undeserved favor, Paul says that we should also “put on” His graciousness and bestow it upon others whether we think they are deserving or not.
Because God met us with compassion and kindness, we should also offer compassion and kindness to others. By putting on humility and removing pride, we can offer others patience and respond to others with gentleness. Because God has been long-suffering and has put up with us for way longer than we deserve, we can patiently bear with one another. And because we have been forgiven by God for the sins we have committed against Him and against others, we can offer forgiveness to those who have sinned against us.
Friends, it may not be easy to forgive others. But when we truly understand our own sinfulness and our own need for forgiveness, it will be easier to offer forgiveness to our fellow man.
Jesus, I admit that I struggle with forgiving people who have sinned against me. And yet I realize that I have sinned against You and against others numerous times and in many ways. Because you have forgiven me for my transgressions, help me to extend the same forgiveness to others. Amen.