Obviously, the entire premise of our salvation is rooted in forgiveness. We need forgiveness because we are sinners, unholy, ungodly, wretched and evil to the core. That is not the nice view of man that the world presents at all!
Our greatest need is not a need for improved self-esteem as preached by many these days. Man’s greatest need is to be forgiven for his sins. Without the forgiveness of sin the end game is hell and eternal damnation. (Romans 6:23)
Once we have been forgiven, we are to follow in the example of the Lord Jesus Christ and forgive those undeserving, wretched people who hurt us. Jesus extended forgiveness to those who crucified Him, even as He hung on the cross. According to the Bible, we are to do the same.
Surprisingly enough, not all Christians believe the Bible means what it says, or that it is authoritative and realistic in its dealings with man. It is a great book, but not specifically applicable. This same group is the ones who run to psychology for answers, because they do not believe that the Bible is sufficient to deal with big issues, such as anger, bitterness and forgiveness.
Probably the best narrative in the Bible on forgiveness comes from the story of Joseph and his brothers. (Gen 45:8-15) These brothers lured him into the desert, threw him in a hole intending to leave him there to die, thought better of it and decided to make a little money off the deal and sold him into slavery instead. They lied to their dad and broke his heart, and kept it all a secret for years.
Joseph did not have a good life from that point on. He encountered more troubles even as he rose to prominence in Egypt. This story is in the end, one of forgiveness. When Joseph sees his brothers again he could have revealed who he was and had them killed on the spot. They certainly had it coming!
But Joseph chose the grace of forgiveness over revenge seeking. His graciousness and understanding of God’s sovereignty are revealed in Genesis 50:20:
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”
Joseph chose to forgive. He demonstrated grace and mercy to people in his own family who tried to kill him and sold him as a slave. He had every ability and rational reason to retaliate against them in any manner he chose, and instead he chose forgiveness and he chose to honor God.
How about you, Christian? Has someone in your family hurt you? Have you been lied about, slandered? Has someone abused you in some way? What has been your response?
You may be thinking, “Well, you don’t know what has been done to me!” As kindly and gently as I can say it, I am going to say that while you may have been very hurt or abused you have the same choice Joseph and the Lord Jesus Christ had and you can forgive. You cannot use hurt and pain and abuse as your excuse to be bitter and angry and unforgiving because you have examples in Scripture that show you it is possible and that God does require you to forgive. See 2 Timothy 4:16, Luke 23:34