Forgiveness is essential! What is the different between mercy and justice? Well, mercy is what we want when we do something wrong. Justice is what we want when somebody else does something wrong to us.
A very important element in navigating the difficult trail of balancing mercy and justice is understanding the events from God’s perspective. Our heavenly Father takes an eternal perspective on all of these matters and He introduces an essential—forgiveness.
We are called to forgive each other
First we’ll look at what God says about our relationship with each other.
“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” (Matthew 6:14-15)
Secondly, with mercy and justice in mind, we then look at forgiveness and it’s impact our relationship with God. We must first understand that sin, any sin, is highly offensive to God, who clearly established His laws and pathway to heaven. Before we seek “justice” or a corrective measure, we need to consider our own actions.
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Mathew 7:5)
How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Luke 6:12)
We ALL need forgiveness
Forgiveness is a major issue. We all need forgiveness and to receive that forgiveness we need to confess our sins to God.
Repent means to turn away, to choose another direction. There are many ways of seeking God’s direction. That is why Roman Catholics go to confession. The Bible does not say you have to go to a priest to confess, you can go directly to God.
Jesus said that when there are two or more gathered together in His name, there He will be also. Our relationship with God is personal, so confessing sins, seeking forgiveness and repenting is clearly about us and God, but we are also encouraged to confess our sins one to another.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Confession can be to another believer
It doesn’t say confess to a priest. Confession, or coming clean, to another believer is adequate. We cannot give each other absolution.
Two people, coming together for prayer and confession is a power enough. The Holy Spirit is with them, Jesus is with them and God is listening. Forgiveness is essential.
Absolution comes from God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, to us. Interestingly, the Jewish priests in the time of Jesus’ life with us, got angry when Jesus would forgive sins, because they understood, and quite correctly, that only God can forgive sins. We can forgive each other for actions, but only God can forgive and remove sin.
Before forgiveness from God, comes repentance, the sincere desire to turn away and go another direction. Repentance is the first step in being shown mercy. God, being faithful and just, will render a perfect verdict.
Our forgiveness comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. The forgiveness from Christ wipes the slate clean and our sins will not be remembered against us.
“This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day. and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Like 24:47)
Forgiveness is powerful
Forgiveness is powerful. But understand that forgiveness is as much about the person forgiving, perhaps even more than the person being forgiven. People may say that they don’t want your forgiveness. Forgive anyway.
If a person is badly harmed, carrying the bitterness around is a heavy burden. The person who harmed them maintains control over them. If people can just let go and let God handle it, they are much better off. Forgiveness cleanses us and most importantly, frees us.