"Forgive and you will be forgiven."
Forgive: to pardon; to waive any negative
feeling or desire for punishment
All of us have been hurt or offended by others at one time or another in our lives. Sometimes these hurts run so deep that it's hard to "let go" of them, even when the person who hurt us has apologized, repented, and asked for forgiveness. When we begin to recognize the depth of our own sin, and the incredible sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on the cross for our sin, we can begin to forgive others, and even ourselves.
We are all sinners.1 No one is perfect or good except God alone.2 When God first created the world, it was "good,"3 but sin soon entered in. It was the mission of Christ to come to this earth to die for our sins so that we might be reconciled with God and have eternal life.4
When Christ died for us on the cross, He took away all of our sins.5 Everyone who believes in Jesus Christ, and acknowledges that He died for our sins, receives complete forgiveness of sins.6 From God's perspective, forgiveness is a "one hundred percent," all-or-none type of thing. That is, when we accept Jesus Christ and repent of our sins, God forgives each and every one of our sins, no matter "how many," "how big," or "how small."
Scriptures give us vivid illustrations of how deep and complete God's forgiveness is for our sins. For example, the Bible states that God: hides our sins behind His back;7 covers over them;8 doesn't remember them anymore;9 removes them "as far as the east is from the west";10 and, when God forgives us completely we are "whiter than the snow."11
Jesus Christ made it very clear that in order to receive the incredible gift of forgiveness from God, we must first forgive others.12 There is no "wiggle room." He stated that: "if you do not forgive men of their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."13
As human beings, we often find it difficult to forgive the sins of others. Deep down, we would sometimes like to "pick and choose" the sins of others that we will forgive, or decide on "how many" sins the other person has committed against us before they have "exceeded their limit" and we can no longer forgive them. However, Scriptures indicate that God does not allow for this type of "selective" forgiveness when someone repents and asks us for forgiveness.
For example, God's Word makes it clear that when we come to the Lord in prayer, if we hold "anything against anyone," we are to forgive him.14 Along similar lines, we are to forgive "whatever grievances you may have against one another."15
In addition, if someone genuinely and sincerely repents of his sin, we are to repeatedly forgive him, no matter how many times he repeats the sin, and regardless of how many times he returns to ask for forgiveness.16
Finally, in addition to forgiving others, we need to forgive ourselves. When you believe in Jesus Christ, and repent of your sins, you are now blameless before God. Try to fully embrace this fact. Obviously, if the Son of God sets you free from sin, you are free indeed!17