“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13 (NLT)
When I was 10 years old, I did something unkind to my brother, Averell. It was a hot summer day, and he’d claimed the last Coke in the refrigerator. I asked him to share it with me, but he refused. When he was distracted by a knock at the door, I decided to help myself to a few sips. He immediately noticed and was upset. I knew it was wrong, so I apologized and expected him to say, “That’s OK. It’s not a big deal.”
But to my surprise, he was very distraught, and it took him a long time to get over it. It seems silly now, but for the longest time, all I wanted was for him to forget about my actions and forgive me.
Looking back, I shouldn’t have been critical of him being upset, because I often find myself doing the same thing. Someone will do something that hurts my feelings, and it takes me a long time to get over it. Sometimes the person doesn’t even realize they’ve offended me. But I can hold on to the hurt and let it hinder a relationship with someone I love.
The Bible says we can’t let that happen. Life is all about relationships, and because we humans are not perfect, even people who love us are going to hurt us.
The question is, “How will we respond when we get hurt?”
Colossians 3:13a says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.”The first thing to do is understand that even the godliest people we know aren’t perfect. They do things we might not think are right. If and when that happens, we’re to be gracious and loving and explain to that person why we’re offended.
The verse then says to forgive anyone who offends us. That’s very straightforward, and most of us who read this passage would understand that it’s not just good advice; it’s a command. God expects us to forgive each other.
Knowing we should forgive someone doesn’t make it any easier, especially when it’s something that really stings. My usual response is, “I can forgive a lot of things, but I can’t forgive that!”
The second half of Colossians 3:13 has the perfect answer: “Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” God has forgiven us, and not just for the small, insignificant things — He forgave us everything. Jesus died on the cross to forgive every offense you and I have ever committed against God or our fellow humans. If we’ve accepted Jesus as our Savior, God has already forgiven us, without hesitation or exceptions.
Whatever we’ve done and whatever our motivation was, He forgives us. And He expects us to do the same.
In Matthew 18, Peter asked the Lord how many times he should forgive someone who sinned against him. Should he be willing to forgive someone seven times? Jesus answered, “Seventy times seven times” (v. 22, DRA).
Jesus then told a parable about a servant who borrowed millions of dollars from the king and couldn’t pay it back. The king forgave him and cancelled his debt, but then the servant wouldn’t forgive one of his coworkers who owed him a few thousand dollars. When the king heard what happened, he was incensed and had the servant brought in and punished for not having the same mercy in his heart that the king had demonstrated.
Jesus showed Peter that no matter how large the offense is or how often someone hurts us, God expects us to forgive.
I don’t know about you, but it’s just not in my human nature to do that. I need the Holy Spirit to take over my life to help me to forgive like Jesus. And when I do, I see the benefits: Not only do I experience God’s forgiveness more fully, but also I enjoy relationships without being hindered by the hard feelings that come from holding a grudge.
That’s why God wants us to forgive others — not just for their benefit, but for ours as well.
Heavenly Father, thank You for forgiving me and bringing me back into relationship with You. Thank You for sending Your Son to die on the cross to show us the true meaning of forgiveness. Help me to show that same forgiveness to others, so they can see You living in me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Matthew 6:14-15, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (NLT)
REFLECT AND RESPOND
Sometimes it’s harder to forgive those we love the most and are closest to us. But no matter who has hurt us or how deep the wound is, God offers healing. Is there someone you are struggling to forgive?
Pray and ask the Lord to give you the ability to forgive those who’ve hurt you and allow you to show His unconditional love today.