Forgiveness should be so automatic in the Body of Christ, that it’s like breathing.
Breathing is something the human body does automatically – without having to think about it. And, breathing can be controlled by our conscious efforts. Without breathing, the body can only maintain life for a very short time – minutes.
The human body cannot survive without breathing; likewise we (the Body of Christ) cannot live like Christ without forgiveness AND forgiving.
In the process of Salvation we must receive forgiveness from the Heavenly Father which is only provided through the precious blood of Jesus Christ, for our sin. And, we must also forgive the ones that we have ought against. It is non-negotiable with the Lord.
Forgiveness of others is vital to our own salvation. Look at what Jesus says in Matthew 6:14-15.
Matthew 6:14-15 (NASB)
14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
Jesus repeatedly taught about forgiveness and forgiving. He taught on the frequency with which we should forgive – ANYONE, for ANY REASON, EVERYTIME.
Mark 11:25-26 (NASB)
25 “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.
26 [“But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”]
When thinking of forgiveness I often ask myself this question: Is not forgiving “some person” worth standing in the way of my relationship with God / The Lord Jesus Christ / The Holy Spirit? Is choosing not to forgive “anyone” worth not having the fullness of the gifts of God flowing freely in my life? The answer is NO! I love the Lord too much to let anything / anyone separate me from Him.
Christians or Believers, should be in constant communication – communion or fellowship – with our Heavenly Father, as we go through the day; which is primarily done through prayer. Jesus’ Words are simple, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone.” Forgiveness shouldn’t be delayed; we should forgive immediately. No matter how many times someone commits the same hurtful action(s), or behavior(s), towards us.
Matthew 18:21-22 (NASB)
21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
The complete story, or parable, Jesus used to discuss Forgiveness is located in Matthew 18:21-35. It is a direct correlation to Christians / Believers, concerning how God, our Heavenly Father, has forgiven us of so much; and even bestowed on us eternal life. How then are we, whom have been forgiven and continually receive forgiveness when we repent and bring those things before the Lord, unwilling to show others the same love – the God kind of Love (Romans 5:8) shown to us; and forgive them of the little done to us?
Psalm 139:23-24 (NASB)
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul challenges the people of the church in Corinth to Forgive and restore their brother – no matter what he had done (2 Corinthians 2: 5-11). Which is the same life principle, not only taught by Jesus Christ; He also demonstrated how quick He was to forgive those who deliberately, intentionally, and willfully went out of their way to target Him…Even crucify Him.
Luke 23:33-35 (NASB)
33 When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.
34 But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. “And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.
35 And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.”
Jesus, as our pattern and example, forgave people during the very act of being crucified. He didn’t wait until later, or until He had time to process and reflect on the situation. Forgiveness, or the act of forgiving, was just like breathing to Jesus; He was so practiced and committed to FORGIVING that HE chose to do it automatically.
We too, can determine (make up our mind) to forgive, just like Jesus. By consistently setting our mind, focus, and will to forgive others; we will, over time, get to a place where forgiveness is just like breathing.
How do I forgive?
Choose. Forgiving others is always a choice. Our choice to make. Choose to obey the Lord in everything. Recognize that just as Jesus forgave you and allowed you to go free without paying the penalty of death that was due as a consequence of sin – so must you allow everyone that has ever wronged, offended, hurt, harmed, betrayed, abused…you to go free. Free them, right now, in your thoughts, in your heart, in your mind. Consider the debt owed to you paid in full by the Lord Jesus Christ. The person(s) owes you nothing from this point on. Jesus is the payment for them, to you. Cast your cares on Jesus. Ask the Lord to cleanse your conscience from dead works. Refuse to relive the situations over and over in your mind. Remember that you have made the decision to forgive and confess your decision to forgive out loud, if need be, when the thoughts of un-forgiveness pop up. Rest assured that old memories will try to return and take up their old residence in your mind and heart. Don’t let them. Resist them, know that your Heavenly Father will see you through until it becomes so easy for you to forgive that you no longer have to think about it, and it is automatic for you.