The fourth of the 12 Essential Ways to Copy Jesus is to freely offer forgiveness.
Forgiving others lavishly is a requirement for Christ Followers.
Let me show you why I believe this to be true.
What Jesus Says About Forgiveness
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15 NLT
It can’t be made much plainer than this. The verse above really doesn’t require any explanation or clarification. It says what it means.
Therefore, it is crucial that we ask God to give us the grace to forgive others completely.
Here’s just how important it is to Jesus:
But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. Mark 11:25 NLT
In a sense, the above verse tells us that forgiveness comes even before prayer. Forgiving others is a precondition for being in right standing with God.
“You wicked servant,” he said, “I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” Matthew 18:32-33 NIV
God has forgiven you and I of many sins. Therefore, the right thing for us to do is to turn around and offer that same forgiveness to others. God is just. He will not tolerate injustice.
So, how many times are we to forgive others? Well, here’s what Jesus had to say to Peter about this.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22 NIV
Jesus is back to His radical self. As I’ve said so many times now, His ways are very different than our ways of doing things. Peter probably thought he was being very “spiritual” by suggesting he’d be willing to forgive his brother or sister seven times. He likely felt he was being very generous, but Jesus sets the bar way beyond anything Peter would have ever imagined.
Here’s My Conclusion About Forgiveness
Forgiveness is very important to Jesus.
Whatever is important to Him, I need to take notice of and follow where He leads on it.
Paul understood the imperative nature of forgiveness. Look at what he said in his letter to the Colossians.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13 NLT
It doesn’t matter how we feel about it. Offering forgiveness is not an option. It is a requirement if we want to copy Jesus.