Who Can Forgive As God Forgives?

John 3:16 is one of the most familiar and favorite verses in all the Bible. Everyone knows it, but few understand its implications. The implications come from Ephesians 4:32, which states, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Yes, Christians should forgive as God has forgiven us in Christ! Listen to the words from John 3:16-17 again to let the gravity of the Christian virtue of forgiveness sink in, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” What does it mean that God wants us to forgive as we have been forgiven in Christ? It begins with understanding how John uses the word “world”, in Greek “kosmos,” throughout the rest of the Gospel. In John’s Gospel, the word “world” is not used in a favorable light. Yet, God loves the world! It is the world that rejects Jesus. It is the world that loves darkness, instead of God’s light. It is the world that is evil. It is the world that will ultimately crucify the One who brought it into existence and tried to save it. Yet, it is this very broken world that Jesus came to die for on the Cross! God’s message is that we have One who loves us in the midst of our own brokenness and sin. He loved us when we weren’t lovable and He has sacrificed Himself to make us whole again. What an amazing otherworldly love John 3:16 portrays in a tangible way for us!

John 3:16 is all about how God forgave a world that didn’t deserve it! We don’t deserve to be forgiven and that my friend is called “grace.” The challenge of this verse is to live a forgiven life and a life of forgiveness. When we realize the weight of forgiveness, we should want to share this forgiveness in turn. Who is it in your life that doesn’t deserve forgiveness? God is calling you to forgive that person. Here are some steps to help you forgive when you don’t feel like forgiving…

1) Chose to forgive: Forgiveness is a choice you make, not a feeling that you feel inside. Make the choice, because the feelings may never come in your lifetime.

2) Pray for God's strength: Sometimes we don’t have the strength to forgive someone on our own and we need to rely on God’s strength to help us forgive. Ask for divine strength.

3) Forgiveness doesn’t always mean reconciliation: Reconciliation and forgiveness are two different concepts. Reconciliation is the full restoration of a relationship. Forgiveness is forgiving someone’s wrongs against you. Reconciliation is always the goal after forgiveness, but there are times when the person who hurt us is unrepentant and reconciliation cannot happen until they repent. Seek peace in the situations where reconciliation is impossible.

4) Put the best construction on all situations: Give people the benefit of the doubt and speak well of them. This is Martin Luther’s explanation of the Eighth Commandment. Putting the best construction on all situations is reserved for all circumstances, even when someone sins against us. If someone wrongs you, work it out between the two of you and then speak well of that person. Don’t perpetuate what someone has done to you by gossiping after you have made the choice to forgive.

Blessings,

Pastor Joel