We all come to God as sinners—we’ve lied, stolen, slandered others, harbored hatred against others, or maybe even committed “big” sins such as murder or adultery. But they are all sins before God. As soon as we recognize our sinful condition and place our trust in Jesus Christ alone to save us, He loudly and clearly proclaims us “forgiven.” We are then released to live each day in the freedom of forgiveness instead of the torture of guilt.
Forgiveness does carry a measure of indebtedness along with it, however—the privilege of extending that same forgiveness to somebody else. Peter no doubt thought he was being most generous by suggesting “seven times.” The traditional Jewish teaching of the time held that an offended person need only forgive a brother three times. By His admonition to forgive “seventy times seven,” Jesus’ point was unmistakable—our offering of forgiveness to others ought not to have limits.
What greater way to show other people what God is like? Non-Christians—and even Christians—can be impatient, use abusive language, and act selfishly. When people are offended, they often respond with revenge. How shocking it is, then, when a believer instead practices forgiveness. Forgiveness is the love of God translated into the language of daily life.
A forgiving attitude may annoy some people because it destroys their basis for saying “Christians are just like everybody else.” Nevertheless, forgiveness has no limits, and neither should the privilege of extending it to somebody else.
Ask God to help you reflect on His forgiveness. Then ask Him to give you an opportunity this week to explain to an unbeliever the great forgiveness found in Christ.
(Editor's Note: This article was adapted from 31 Days to Contagious Living and a blog originally posted in February 2016.)