Best of Daily Reflections: Why Forgive Someone Who Wronged You? Part 2
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
In yesterday's reflection on Ephesians 4:32, we saw that we are to forgive others, not only in obedience to Scripture, but also because forgiveness is an expression of kindness and compassion. Yet this is not the only rationale for forgiveness in verse 32.
This verse says, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." The final phrase, "just as in Christ God forgave you" provides both a rationale for forgiveness and a model of forgiveness. We could read this verse as saying, in part, "Since God forgave you in Christ, you are to forgive each other." You are to forgive, not because of your inherent graciousness, nor because the one who wronged you has done something to deserve forgiveness, but because of what God has done for you in Christ. You are to forgive as a response to God's grace given to you through the cross of Jesus Christ. Why should you forgive? Because God forgave you.
The phrase "just as in Christ God forgave you" also shows us a model of forgiveness. In Ephesians 1:7-8, we read, "In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us." Similarly, Ephesians 2:4-7 reveals that even when we were dead in our transgressions, God made us alive with Christ "because of his great love for us" and because God is "rich in mercy" and because of "the incomparable riches of [God's] grace, expressed in kindness to us in Christ Jesus." Forgiveness flows from God's grace, mercy, and love. Nothing in Ephesians suggests that forgiveness is something we earn by our words, deeds, intentions, or feelings. We receive God's gracious forgiveness through faith, but this forgiveness is not dependent on our faith.
The more we reflect on how God has forgiven us in Christ, the more we will be motivated to forgive others. The more we let the model of God's forgiveness in Christ guide us, the more we will forgive graciously, mercifully, and lovingly. Our forgiveness will come before the response of the one whom we are forgiving because it is based, not on that person, nor on ourselves, but on God and his grace in Christ.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Why do you think we are to forgive others because of how God has forgiven us? Why isn't it okay for us to receive God's forgiveness without also forgiving others? Can you think of a time in your life when you were able to forgive someone because of what God did for you in Christ?
PRAYER: Gracious God, how I thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you that this forgiveness flows from your amazing grace and boundless mercy. Thank you for offering me forgiveness, not on the basis of my worthiness, but on the basis of Christ's worthiness.
Help me, dear Lord, to forgive others because you have forgiven me. Help me to make the connection between what I have received from you and what you want me to give away to others. And may I learn to forgive as you have forgiven me, following your model. Teach me to be more like you, especially when it comes to forgiveness. Amen.
Stewardship of Creation
The mission of Leave No Trace is to teach “people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly.” It’s an ethics program based on protection and preservation. Biblical stewardship of the environment respects this high standard, then takes it a step further—adding propagation to the mix. We’re hardwired to create, so when God told us to work the earth and take care of it, he gave us permission to make beauty out of the basic; to turn raw ingredients into art, science, entertainment, and nourishment. How we do this matters greatly, and it starts with responsibility.
Our Stewardship of Creation series at The High Calling explores how daily decisions can leave the world better than we found it. We hope you’ll join us for the conversation.