Forgiveness is the best gift of all. It recovers what was lost and restores what was broken. It helps the helpless and gives hope to the hopeless. It’s so powerful that Jesus tells us that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Forgiveness is predicated on repentance, which is itself a gift from God (1 Tim. 2:25). We have all known both side of this equation, having repented many times from our sins, and also having many times received the gift of forgiveness. It’s all grace from first to last.
As we imitate Christ, our relationships are sustained by this process. Heeding the admonition of the Apostle Paul to “forgive one another, even as God in Christ forgave you,” we soon see that our marriages, families, churches and friendships depend on the unmerited favor of others. When God forgives us, He does so at His own expense; He picks up the tab. Likewise, when we forgive others, or when they forgive us, they are paying the price to remove the sin and maintain the relationship. Our only proper response is gratitude and a fresh commitment to avoid the sins that created the breach in the first place.
We’ve all incurred debts―little ones and big ones. As your pastor, I have known most of you long enough to recognize that forgiveness offered and received is central to who you are as followers of our Lord. The world cannot comprehend such love and grace; it’s unnatural. Yet, as recipients of supernatural grace, we have the privilege of showing that grace to others.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. ―2 Corinthians 5:17-19
Forgiveness of sins (which pays for and removes the debt), restores the relationship; it reconciles the account so that all is good. A new foundation is established. This is a happy thing. Forgiveness is the gift that keeps on giving!