ODJ: power of forgiveness

October 26, 2013 

READ: Psalm 130 

You offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear You (v.4).

What would you do to follow God? Love others? Absolutely. Sell your possessions and give the money to the poor? Done. What about forgiving the person who wronged you? Hmm. That’s a tough one. Are you sure I have to?

Jesus said so. Twice. The Lord’s Prayer implores God to “forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:12). To make sure we get the point, Jesus told a story about a forgiven servant who refused to forgive others. His master was so incensed that he “sent the man to prison to be tortured.” And that, Jesus said, is “what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart” (18:34-35).

So why is it so hard to forgive? We struggle because forgiveness doesn’t seem fair, and it doesn’t seem right. After what they did, they shouldn’t be able to apologise and have everything suddenly be okay. Forgiveness feels as if they’re ‘getting away with it’. We’re being victimised again.

Psalm 130 offers help for us who struggle to forgive. Firstly, while we must offer forgiveness to those who wronged us, true reconciliation comes through forgiveness and repentance. The psalmist takes responsibility for his sin and is therefore prepared to be reconciled with God (vv.1-3). Full forgiveness can’t occur without repentance, and repentance means they aren’t ‘getting away with it’.

Secondly, notice that it’s God who first “[offered] forgiveness” (v.4). We were at His mercy. But He chose to extend mercy and grace to us, thought it came at a high cost—the death of His Son. Forgiveness rarely comes easily, but it may help to remember that it’s a sign of true power and love. —Mike Wittmer

Read Luke 23:32-43 to learn how Jesus’ forgiveness for the soldiers was different than that for the dying thief. 
Is there someone you need to forgive? How does forgiveness display the amazing power of God?