For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. ~~ John 3:16-17 (KJV)
God created man in His own image. Scripture doesn’t exactly say why God created man, but the verses in Genesis would have me believing that He created man for companionship. While it is not explicitly stated, there is the inference that God walked with Adam in the garden regularly.
Then old slewfoot entered the picture and cast doubt upon God’s word and single prohibition.
“Did God really say…?” Followed by “Well, He didn’t really mean it like that.”
Yes, He did say. And yes, He did mean just exactly that.
John 3:16 is probably the first verse a new Christian memorizes (if verse memorization is still encouraged). At least it was the first verse my contemporaries and I learned. But we didn’t learn it all, because we didn’t memorize verse 17 as well.
Most of us have heard that where it says “the world” and “whosoever” you can substitute your own name.
For God so loved ________, that he gave his only begotten Son, that __________ [believing] in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Okay, but what does this have to do with forgiveness?
Glad you asked.
See those blanks? Now insert the name of someone who has harmed you in some way.
Yeah, the guy who cut you off in traffic or the woman who told lies about you to keep you from that promotion or anyone who has hurt you or made you angry in any manner. (For me, that includes the former son-in-law who murdered three of my grandchildren.)
When God said “the world”, he meant those people, too.
God’s love is much bigger than ours. But if God loves them, and if I’m a follower of Christ, then I must love them, also.
True love is NOT a warm, fuzzy feeling. It is a decision followed by a course of action. Love is a decision to seek the welfare of another person above your own.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
When we look at verse 17, we can take out “the world”, insert blanks again, and then write in the name of that person who has harmed or offended you.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn __________; but that __________ through him might be saved.
Can God really forgive ____________? (Insert the name of any offense in that blank.)
Yes, he can.
Look at King David. He was called a man after God’s own heart.
And when he [God] had removed him [Saul], he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. ~~ Acts 13:22 (KJV)
David, the man who coveted another man’s wife? David, the man who committed adultery with Bathsheba?
David, the man who tried to manipulate Uriah to cover his sin? David, the man who conspired to have Uriah killed in battle?
Yes, that David.
The saving grace was that David, imperfect and sinful as he was, did love God. He wanted to do as God willed. He simply fell far short of that mark.
In all his transgressions, David recognized his sin was against God and God’s commandments. Actually, that’s where every sin lies – against God’s commandments.
God’s capacity to forgive is much bigger than ours. But if God forgives them, and if I’m a follower of Christ, then I must forgive them, also.
Forgive – definition
Forgiveness is NOT the same as reconciliation. Forgiveness is a decision followed by a course of action. Forgiveness is a decision to absolve from payment and to renounce anger and resentment against someone who has harmed you.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, … and pray for them which despitefully use you, ~~ Matthew 5:44
The only positive action you must take after that decision is to remember that person in your prayers.
Help us to remember who we are in you. Give us the grace to see other people through your eyes of love. Empower us to be swift to forgive.
In Jesus’ most precious name.