2020. A new year. A new decade. A new song. A new opportunity.
Fam, what a year it has already been! I don’t know about you, but there is a stirring in me for God to get in my heart and take care of some of the hard stuff that maybe I didn’t want Him to touch in 2019.
I’ll say this upfront so you’re not mad at me later: this might be the last blog you want to read today but the one blog that you need to take in.
Maybe in 2019 you were hurt by something (or more accurately, someone) and you have carried it into this decade. And maybe everyone around you is living all freed up and joyful (in our flesh, that can be so frustrating, can’t it?) and you can’t quite get there because of some resentment that has been hard to let go. I feel you. I sit here writing this post on forgiveness feeling deeply convicted over a relationship with someone that I have yet to forgive from almost a year ago.
So, what if today, right now, you and I take a dive into the Word that wants to do a new thing in us this year? A good work in and through you and I that will cleanse us of bitterness, resentment, and anger from the pains of the last decade?
What I do know is that hurts run deep, and I would never want to minimize that. But what I also know to be just as true if not truer, is that God’s grace for us (shown through Jesus) runs deeper and has more power than resentment ever could.
Let’s start being the forgiven who forgive because of The Great Forgiver.
We’re taking a look at 10 verses on forgiveness that have the power to do the seemingly impossible. You’ll find a question below every verse as well to pray through or journal them out. Don’t rush through this! Take your time, let Jesus speak, and ask Him to guide you as He pleases for the purpose of forgiveness and letting go of the past.
1. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to five us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9
You probably didn’t think I was going to start with a verse on our own sin, did you? That’s right, before we can ever hope to forgive others, we have to acknowledge and be confronted by our need for forgiveness. As much as it isn’t fun to think about, God sees all sin as equal and you and I are just as in need of forgiveness as anyone else.
Is there something you need to be forgiven for today? I encourage you to first confess to God and then confess to anyone you need forgiveness from. Let’s forgive from a fresh place of being forgiven!
2. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
Paul (the author of Ephesians, speaking to the church in Ephesus), encourages us to “put away” everything that would hinder us from offering forgiveness to those around us. He explains a few verses earlier in chapter 4 to put off our old self, the self that only follows our desires. The old self holds on to past hurts and bitterness, but the new self, found in Jesus, hands our hearts over to Him to be healed and softened toward forgiveness.
What are some differences in your old and new self?
3. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:12-13
We just looked at what we are told to “put off”, and in this verse, we are shown what to “put on” as our new selves. Putting on these characteristics of Christ is our only path to true forgiveness.
What are some ways you can begin to put on and practice the qualities of Jesus?
4. “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent’, you must forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4
Jesus, speaking to his disciples (and you and I), is asking a big thing of us here. He is showing us that we must stay uncapped on our forgiveness. We are called to forgive for every trespass done against us, and especially when our brother or sister comes to us in repentance. And guess what was the disciples immediate reply in verse 5? “Increase our faith!” They KNEW that this was an impossible task without Jesus doing a work in them.
Do you find yourself limiting your forgiveness? Is there a specific person it is harder to forgive?
5. “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:47
Jesus is so rich in mercy! Jesus is speaking to a pharisee who was offended by the service that a “sinful” woman was offering Jesus by washing his feet. The lesson here? When we know the depth that we are forgiven, forgiving becomes the better, freer option, rather than judgement.
Do you live like a child deeply forgiven by Jesus? Does this affect the way you forgive?
6. “Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure — not to put it too severely — to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him … Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive.” 2 Corinthians 2:5-8,10
Do you mean it when you say you want people to know Jesus? If so, forgiveness is the best way to show them that you forgive because you have a forgiving God and that they aren’t as far away from Him as they think. In fact, He is ready to welcome them home as soon as possible (Check out the prodigal son in Luke 15!)
How can you show the forgiveness of God through the way you forgive?
7. “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25
What Mark is saying here is that prayer should be an integral part of our daily prayer life. Did you catch that? Every time we pray, we need to practice bringing our hurts to Jesus and forgiving anyone who has hurt us. When we do, we have freely received the forgiveness that’s offered to us.
How can you incorporate forgiveness into your daily prayer life?
8. “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. – Isaiah 1:18
We see here the type of forgiveness that God offers. As you can see, God never partially forgives. His forgiveness is wholistic, turning what is completely blood stained into blemish-free. For us, this means that our forgiveness must also be full and impartial.
Is there anyone you have partially forgiven that you need to extend FULL forgiveness to today?
9. “And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.” Luke 23:34
One of the last things that Jesus did on earth before He died was advocate for forgiveness. He knows that without forgiveness, we can’t be fully free.
Have you fully accepted and received Jesus’ forgiveness for your sins paid for on the cross? If not, He is ready to show you His forgiveness today, friend!
10. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Isaiah 43:25
God doesn’t just forgive us, He chooses to “remember our sins no more”. He lives like our past sins are not a part of us. What a gracious act of love! Maybe you feel that you’ll never be able to forget the pain of the past, but through the power of Jesus, you do have the ability to love people like they never hurt you. Through Jesus, we can be free from holding onto those pains and love without boundaries.
Friend, I hope this was a challenging and fruitful time and that God has prompted you to journal some prayers of forgiveness, call a friend for an overdue conversation, or even finally walk in the forgiveness that you’ve been given!
Forgiveness is one of the hardest realities on earth, and that is why Jesus had to die one of the hardest death to overcome it. But He did it, for us, and now we get to be the recipients of a forgiveness that is immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine.