Hello! Welcome to Episode 9 of the Faith Chase Podcast. I’m Heather Tabata, and this podcast is about making faith real in everyday life. This week we’ll be talking about the beauty of forgiveness. (If you landed here on the blog and want to hear the post instead of reading the transcript, click here.)
We know we’re supposed to forgive people who hurt us, but it’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s really hard. When someone treated me or my family badly, I used to not just be upset at them. I was upset I was supposed to forgive them. Sometimes I thought I couldn’t.
Then I learned more about what forgiveness means. See, I looked at forgiving someone as basically saying, “It’s okay, it’s done, it didn’t matter. I’m not upset at you anymore, so I’ve forgiven you.” That’s not what it means at all.
What is Forgiveness?
According to Strong’s Concordance, in Greek forgive meant to dismiss, release, or pardon. It was like taking away the punishment someone would have had. It’s acknowledging that what happened was wrong. It means knowing that you would be justified in demanding retribution. Instead, you let the person off the hook.
Once I understood that, forgiveness became much easier. See, before I felt like I was being punished too, because I wasn’t supposed to be upset that damage had been done. It was like I wasn’t allowed to have enough self-respect to say, “It’s not right to be treated this way.” Now, I can actually forgive properly, because I can say, “I didn’t deserve to be treated like that, but I’m not going to demand the consequences.”
Jesus talks about forgiveness in the Lord’s Prayer:
And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
– Matthew 6:12
Praying this reminds us that everyone sins against people. I’m not the only person who has ever been hurt, and I have offended other people. So when I ask God to forgive me when I mess up, I don’t go to Him with the attitude that I’m the only person who’s ever done something wrong and nobody’s as bad as me. On the other hand, when there’s something I need to forgive someone for, I can’t look down my nose at them like they’re the scum of the earth and I’m granting them pardon because I’m so generous and good.
Our attitude needs to stay in the middle of those two extremes. God wants us to be balanced. In this case, that means not thinking too much or little of ourselves. So Biblical forgiveness is really a beautiful concept. It keeps us from being haughty, but it also helps us preserve a sense of self-worth. Funny, isn’t it?
The Prodigal Son – An Example of God’s Forgiveness
Let’s look a little deeper at how God forgives. Remember the story of the prodigal son? It’s in Luke 15:11-32. Take a minute now or later and read over it. It starts with a man who has two sons. The younger one asks his father for his inheritance. The plain version of this is that he wanted the money he’d get and didn’t want to wait for his father to die. This was enormously disrespectful, but his father gave it to him anyway.
So the younger son left home and went to a country far away. He wasted the money on “prodigal living.” Then there was a famine, and he had to find work to survive. He was hired to feed pigs. For the Jews Jesus was talking to, this would have been complete abasement. They looked at pigs as filthy beasts, and this son was so desperate he would have been glad to eat the pigs’ food. He’d really found the bottom and scraped it.
He wanted to go back home, but he knew he’d have to make things right, or as right as he could, with his father. He was ready to acknowledge that he’d sinned against God and his family. So he traveled home.
His father was watching for him, and when he saw his son coming, he ran to meet him. The son apologized. His father didn’t assign him penance or make him grovel. He welcomed him back and made a feast for him.
That’s how God is with us. He doesn’t accept sin, but whatever we’ve done, when we’re ready to come back to Him, He’s right there waiting for us.
God Promises to Forgive Us
So God forgives us, right? Sometimes it’s hard to accept that He really does. I highly recommend all of Psalms 103, but we’ll look at a couple verses here.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
– Psalms 103: 10-12
God would be justified in completely destroying us, because we’ve all sinned. That’s where His mercy comes in. He chooses not to do what He could because He understands us. He completely takes away our guilt, and He does that through Jesus.
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
– I John 1:7
When this verse says cleanses, it’s easy to read that in present tense as though we get forgiven once, but that’s not what John said. Here, “cleanses” is an ongoing statement. If we continue to walk with God, He will continue to forgive us. There’s a difference in walking in sin and walking with God and committing sin. Our continual state should be with God, and sometimes we will mess up. When we do, God promises to continue forgive us.
We Should Forgive People
If God, Who is ultimately perfect and holy, can forgive us when we sin against Him, then that leaves us no room for grudges. Remember how we talked about the Lord’s prayer? God forgives us, but to get that forgiveness we forgive other people.
Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
– Colossians 3:13
So how did Jesus forgive? Completely. While He was on the cross, He asked God to forgive the people who were crucifying Him. That’s a difficult standard to follow. God understands that we aren’t just robots, though.
Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.
– Psalms 4:4
Ephesians quotes the beginning of this verse as well. We are allowed to be human and have emotions, but we have to be careful how we handle them. Like Lilly in the movie The Princess Diaries, it’s okay to be “angry, upset, and hurt,” but we have to make sure that we don’t let the “green monster of jealousy” or whatever else we’d like to do take over.
So let’s go on into our lives with a deep understanding of forgiveness. Because at its core, it shows grace for the person who did the wrong and the person who was offended. Trust that God has this gift ready for us when we ask, and let’s make sure we are extending it to the people around us freely.
That’s it for this episode! Thanks for joining in. Head over to Instagram, Facebook, or chime in here on the website and let me know your thoughts on this episode. What stood out to you? What questions do you have? If you want to stay up to date on events and get a little regular pick-me-up, you can sign up for my newsletter by clicking right here. If you’re enjoying the podcast, don’t forget to subscribe so the next episode can come straight to you, and tell a friend about it. See you next week!
Before you go, if you liked this podcast check out a verse guide I made to dealing with difficult situations. One of them is feeling guilt. You can download it for free here.