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Pointers along the way #80

Threefold forgiveness
- Jacob Ninan

Many times we don't enjoy what God has prepared for us because we understand only a part of the truth. This is true with respect to forgiveness too. A large number of Christians seem to think only of receiving forgiveness from God. They don't seem to think seriously about forgiving others and asking others for forgiveness. But these go together. We can't have one without the others.

We need forgiveness from God constantly, because we always end up doing things imperfectly even when we wholeheartedly desire to do the right thing. And many times we can't even claim that we have desired to do the right with all our heart. As long as we carry about this fallen flesh with us - and that will be as long as we are on this earth - this will be our experience. Sometimes we do the wrong thing, and sometimes we fail to do the right thing. We need to tell the Lord that we are sorry.

God promises us that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1Jn.1:9). Of course, when we 'confess' our sins it is expected that we are sorry about them, and that we don't want to do them again. That is repentance. When we do our part, God is faithful to do His part. If we have done our part, we can take it that He has done His part, even if we don't feel any different.

Jesus said that the Father will forgive us just as we forgive others (Mt.6:12). He emphasised the point that otherwise we would not get forgiveness ourselves (v.15). Did you know that if, after we have received forgiveness from God, we refuse to forgive someone else, God may even take back the forgiveness He gave us earlier. If you don't believe me, read it in Mt.18:23-34, and note especially v.35.

Another thing Jesus said about forgiveness is about getting right with people we have done wrong to. When we stand before Him making Him an offering, say when we are praying, praising or worshipping Him, if we remember that someone is hurt with us because we have done some wrong to him, we need to first go and set that right before we can continue with the offering (Mt.5:22-24). We need to ask for their forgiveness first. Otherwise God cannot accept our offering.

If we want forgiveness, we need to be willing to give forgiveness. On the other hand, the more we recognise how much we have been forgiven, the more freely we would like to forgive others.