The Forgiveness Conundrum


I’m a big believer in forgiveness. If you look at some of the strongest leaders in the Bible – they are people who experienced great sin, AND great forgiveness. All of us have the opportunity to be forgiven by God, like those spiritual giants in the Bible. David, Peter, Paul, just to name a few – did things that most of us would say “Maybe I can forgive them, but they’ll have to move on elsewhere for what they’ve done.”

And that’s the rub isn’t it? We want to forgive people, with conditions attached. I’ll forgive you, but you have to do this, this, and this.

I’m in the middle of a great book by Dennis McCallum entitled “Satan and His Kingdom: What the Bible Says and How it Matters to You.” In a chapter of the book entitled “Battling Satan Inside Your Church” the author gives a quote that smacked me upside the head. It says this:

“‘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). Anyone means ‘everybody minus nobody.’ This is explicit language ruling out all excuses. Paul qualifies it even further, saying that our forgiveness should be ‘just as the Lord forgave you’ ( NASB ). And we know the forgiveness we receive in the finished work of Christ is absolute and all- encompassing. Even when our attitude is poor, Jesus’ death provides for our complete forgiveness.”

Wow. Let’s break this down a bit.

Anyone means “everybody minus nobody” – Don’t we tend to be more forgiving towards some and less forgiving towards others? They’ve never messed up before, so maybe I’ll be more lenient toward them. They really insulted my ego, so I’m not going to be as forgiving toward them. That’s not how it goes. Anybody means everybody minus nobody.

Our forgiveness should be “Just as the Lord forgave you.” – Jesus doesn’t say “I forgive you, but I can’t work with you any longer.” Jesus doesn’t say “I forgive you, but when judgement day comes, I’m going to put you in a different part of heaven because of what you did.” Jesus doesn’t say “I forgive but will never forget.” Thank goodness Jesus doesn’t put such conditions on his forgiveness. Jesus simply forgives, and moves on.

The forgiveness we receive is absolute and all-encompassing. – We really tend to have a problem with this don’t we? The conditions we place on our forgiveness take away the “absolute and all-encompassing” part, doesn’t it? We are completely forgiven. Can you completely forgive others?

Even when our attitude is poor, Jesus’ death provides for our complete forgiveness. – This tells me, that even if the person who offended you may not ask, may not care, or goes out and does the same thing again the next day – we provide forgiveness. If you go to the verse in Colossians 3:13 where it says “Make allowance for each other’s faults” you go in knowing this…WE WILL ALL MESS UP. We should anticipate it. We should expect it.

Think about the people who have wronged you. Have you forgiven them? How have you forgiven them? Are there self-imposed conditions attached? Is there a “I forgive but won’t forget” clause attached? Free yourself of those things – forgive, forget, move on. Not only will you bless their life in immeasurable ways, you may just do the same for yourself.

Today I praise God for forgiving me without condition. He just forgives.