Forgiveness disarms and disempowers Satan. Without the disappointment, anger and (verbal or physical) violence associated with unforgiveness Satan is a toothless lion. Forgiveness is a spiritual weapon!
Furthermore, forgiveness is actually a kind of glue that keeps society together. In many countries of the world today we have descended into a kind of tribalism. We belong to the tribe that is made up of people carrying the same unforgiveness that we are, often as a result of real or imagined historical injustice. It manifests in ethnic relations, politics, and antagonistic relationships between various groups and the authorities.
Christianity is unique because its concept of forgiveness is not found in any other religion – God forgiving us unconditionally and us forgiving each other unconditionally. God says, ‘I will remember their sins no more’ (see Hebrews 10:12-22). If God will do that for us, then so, too, must we do that for those who sin against us.
I developed a mnemonic for our church to help us remember that a Christian forgives:
Forgive. It’s a command. See Mark 11:25, Colossians 3:13, Ephesians 4:32.
Generously. We must forgive more than seven times (7 is the number of perfection). We must forgive seventy times seven. See Luke 17:4, Matthew 18:21-22.
Situations. It is easy to forgive things that don’t matter much, but when a person has been abused emotionally, physically or sexually, forgiveness is not easy or natural. Betrayal, such as infidelity or desertion is also hard to forgive. (Egregious = extraordinarily bad)
Although it might seem impossible to forgive sometimes, God has provided a way for us. In 2 Corinthians 3:17 it says, ‘Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’. That freedom includes the freedom to forgive. Praise God!
Questions for reflection
1. Do you think that forgiveness is mandatory for Christians?
2. In your own experience, what sin of another have you found most difficult to forgive?
3. Do agree that forgiveness is actually a spiritual weapon?
4. In your opinion can forgiveness build community?