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Why Do We Forgive? (Ephesians 4:32)

Introductory Thoughts

The study of why men ought to forgive others may seem obvious, but it is actually quite complex without some thorough Bible study. On several occasions, the Lord told His disciples that they needed to forgive in order to be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15; Matthew 18:34-35; Mark 11:25-26; Luke 6:37). As a result of these statements, many Christians live in fear that they will not receive God’s forgiveness unless and until they have forgiven all those who have wronged them. Two things need to be understood contextually: (1) these commandments from the Gospels were given prior to Christ's sacrificial death upon the cross and (2) He was speaking specifically to His Jewish people. Diligent Bible study always involves asking to whom God is speaking in any particular text. Epistles written specifically to and for the church following Christ's sacrifice reveal that those who are saved are already forgiven on the basis of Christ's payment on the cross. Today, men do not forgive to be forgiven; they should forgive others because they have already been forgiven (Colossians 3:13).

Devotional Thoughts

  • (For children): A friend worked hard building a house with blocks. You knock it down, feel badly about it, and tell him that you are sorry. He says, "That's OK." A different friend knocks down your blocks and says he's sorry. You get angry and hit him. You should treat people like you want to be treated. God forgives us when we ask.
  • (For everyone): Have you been forgiven? If so, why do you struggle to forgive others when they wrong you? What would it be like if the Lord held grudges like we do? Are you willing to forgive others as the Lord has forgiven you?
  • Do you continually punish others for the wrongs for which you supposedly had forgiven them? Is this the way the Lord works? Does He hold things against you that you have previously asked Him to forgive?

Prayer Thoughts

  • Ask God to help you forgive others as you have been forgiven.
  • Ask the Lord to soften your heart so that you will be ready and quick to forgive.