The quick and easy answer to the question, “Why should I forgive?” must surely be, because God says that we must. The Bible is full of verses that bear this out but the one I want to discuss is Ephesians 4:31-32 because it concisely points out three things that are important to remember.
“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.”
1) It Tells Us What to Get Rid Of
It’s interesting that the verse says that “all” expressions of unforgiveness must be gotten rid of, not just some of them. A whole gamut of negative emotion is listed here ranging all the way from bitterness, which many of us feel entitled to at times, to malice, which sounds evil and is not something most Christians think they are capable of harboring in their own heart.
But unforgiveness causes the person holding it to become less and less Christlike. In fact, the person who allows negative feelings toward their offender to grow will experience a poisoning of their soul that only worsens over time. Only God truly knows how far, unchecked by the Holy Spirit, our own hearts will go.
2) It Tells Us How to Treat Others
It’s pretty difficult, if not impossible, to be kind and tenderhearted and forgiving towards someone you have not forgiven… which is probably the point!
#3) An Example to Follow
The words, “as God in Christ forgave you,” remind us that we have the most important example of all in Jesus Christ. As sinners who have been forgiven through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ we know firsthand the amazing blessing of being forgiven. Jesus says, “go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37 ESV)
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