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What does the Bible say about forgiving your brother and sister?

What does the Bible say about forgiving your brother and sister?

Forgiveness is part of God’s nature

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love” (Micah 7:18).

Forgiveness is needed when a barrier of sin has been raised up towards God’s steadfast love.

God is love and He delights in unchanging love. Forgiveness is needed when a barrier of sin has been raised up towards God’s steadfast love. The first thing is to learn to accept God’s forgiveness and what it has cost Jesus to forgive us. When we have seen and experienced that, we have taken an important step. It does cost us something to forgive others when we are hurt. A natural human reaction would be to strike back to hurt them in return. It’s even more difficult when they don’t accept our forgiveness. However, keep in mind, forgiveness wasn’t an easy thing for Jesus, and it takes a step by faith for us too.

Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Col. 3:13).

Paul was aware that we have to bear one another, but nevertheless we are commanded to forgive each other. Thank God, it’s not a Mosaic commandment we have to obey in ourselves, but we forgive through “the obedience of faith” (Rom. 16:26). We know we can forgive because we have “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

“I can’t forgive!”

You need a stepping stone to exercise faith.

Relax, if you are a believer, you are a new creation. You share in the divine nature. You are a branch and Christ is the Vine. Without Him you can do NOTHING, forgiving included (John 15:5). When our first reaction is that we can’t forgive, that’s not wrong. We live by opposites, and the negative is always the jumping board to faith. “Lord, I can’t forgive, but I share in the divine nature and You can forgive through me.” A Christian always lives by what follows the BUT. So don’t worry if you first reaction is not one of faith. You need a stepping stone to exercise faith.

No place for an unforgiving spirit

But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:26).

This a solemn word. If God forgives us freely, we also forgive others freely. Christians are people who are to be known for forgiving others, because it’s the attitude of our Lord. We share the divine nature and always are willing to take to first move, even when others are not willing to forgive us.

To forgive is to prevent a bitter root

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:31,32).

Ephesians 4:31 describes the person who is unwilling to forgive and who acts according to the flesh. It carries the root of bitterness and of scandal. Bitterness a dangerous infection and difficult to get rid of. Bitterness and scandal eat away our spiritual vigour. The Bible says, “See to it … that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble” (Heb. 12:15). “But that is not the way you learned Christ!” (Eph. 4:20). We learned Christ by being kind, compassionate and forgiving (Eph. 2:32). And so do we!

We forgive others from the heart

So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart” (Matt. 18:35).

The Lord wants us to forgive from the heart, completely and unconditionally.

Summary

So what does the Bible say about forgiving your brother and sister? The Bible commands to forgive them freely, even when they don’t forgive us. Because we are partakers of the divine nature, the new life in us can forgive. We have no excuse. It may cost us something, but remember, it cost Jesus everything. No relationship can work or be restored without forgiveness.

How does this Bible teaching speak to you? Please share your thoughts below!

Also read Do you have to keep asking for forgiveness?

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Roel Velema

Roel Velema

Roel Velema, 1949, came to Christ at the age of 19 through the ministry of the Navigators. Though retired, Roel worked as an actuarial analyst with several insurance companies in the Netherlands. Roel is a close student of the Bible and hosts his weblog at velemaweb.nl. Roel is a chatter with GlobalRize. In the local church he serves in a team to the elderly people and as a translator of English. He and his wife have four children and seven grandchildren

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What does the Bible say about forgiving your brother and sister?