Give ForGIVEness

I wonder if there is anyone in all of humanity that does not struggle with unforgiveness…

If we break down the word forgiveness, we find that give means “to bestow without a return” and for- is a prefix meaning “off or away with intense force.” Putting these meanings together, we find that to forgive literally means to intensely bestow something without expectation of getting anything in return. To put it another way, forgiving freely releases other people from the penalty of their offenses against us- there is no longer an expectation of payment back to us for their offense (e.g. an apology). Therefore, when we hold onto unforgiveness, we are refusing to let our offenders off the hook and in various ways we’re attempting to extract some sort of payment for their debt to us. These “payments” or punishment can be as mild as giving them the silent treatment or the cold shoulder, or simply refusing to forget the affront and move forward.

Colossians 3:13 commands that we, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of us has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” The Savior provided the richest and most sobering example of forgiveness when He endured the cross, the cruelest of punishments that He did not deserve. Although He was completely innocent of His tormentors’ false accusations, Jesus asked the Lord to forgive them even while He was still hanging and suffering on the cross (Luke 23:34)! Let’s remember that Jesus also loved and died for us while we were still His enemies; that is, when we rejected Him and refused to place our faith in Him (Romans 5: 6-8). Furthermore, we ourselves are blessed when we release others, “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9). Romans 4:7 teaches that we are blessed when our sins are covered and forgiven; therefore forgiving is a win-win act of obedience: We bless the ones we forgive, and at the same time, we ourselves obtain blessing and release from the burden of anger and resentment.

When offenses come- and they will (Luke 17:1)- we can determine to be like our Father, and remove the debt owed to us “as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). To put it another way, we can swing with the power of forgiveness and knock the offenses against us out of the park!