Forgiveness is the heart of the gospel. Yet, so many believers walk in unforgiveness towards others. Why is this? I’ve found that, in most cases, it’s due to the fact that we don’t fully grasp or appreciate the truth of the gospel—the essential nature of the forgiveness we’ve been gifted.
The core message of the gospel is forgiveness. A perfect God, who did nothing wrong, descended to earth to pay for the sins of a world that rejected Him countless times. He chose to forgive, even when we didn’t deserve it. He died and rose again so that we could spend eternity with Him. The message of the cross is simply that God loves us so much that He forgave all of our sins, all of our mistakes, all of our failures: past, present, and future. As believers, we can’t fully appreciate or live in the reality that we have been forgiven without also understanding our resulting obligation to forgive.
1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above everything else, love each other deeply, for love covers a multitude of sins.” What does the phrase “above everything” mean? It means that we are to love above everything else—above your politics, above your feelings, above your whims and your wishes, above what other people say or don’t say. Why? Because God loved us above everything, as well.
In the world, people are looking for freedom; they’re looking for answers. But unfortunately, when they encounter church people, they don’t always receive a message of forgiveness—they receive a message of judgment. They hear us talking about the Prince of Peace, but they don’t see the evidence of His peace in our lives. Do you know what the world wants to know? If forgiveness is so wonderful, then why aren’t we, the children of God, living it out?
You see, the way we forgive is our witness to a world hungering for God. But we can only show them something we understand! Once we’ve truly grasped the lengths of grace that God has went to in order to save us, we’ll have His power to turn around and show that same forgiveness to others.
John 13:34 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” For those who have accepted Christ, God has forgiven us of every single sin we’ve committed. Now, it’s our turn to show that same forgiveness to those who need to meet Jesus for the first time.