What God says about forgiveness and bitterness?

Asked by gloria

What God says about forgiveness and bitterness


Thanks for the question Gloria,

Forgiveness is one of the key themes of the Bible and so I present to you a summary of what the Bible has to say.

a) We have all offended God and as such are worthy of death, so the forgiveness of our sins by God moves us from the realm of death to life.
b) Only God can forgive sins, because sin is ultimately rebellion against God and refusal to live his way (Luke 5:21)
c) Jesus forgave sins, making the explicit claim to have the full authority of God to do so(Mark 2:1-12)
d) hence Christians declare forgiveness of our individual sin is only possible in the name of Christ Jesus (Acts 2:38)
e) Humanly, forgiveness is hard - Peter wanted to know how often he had to forgive someone (presumably before he could condemn them) - Matthew 18:21

So there are two things we need to hold together here - our relationship with Jesus and how that impacts upon our relationship with others.

All of humanity was judged to be dead in the sight of God because of our rejection of him.  Humanly this (in a sense) equates to the anger we feel when we perceive (rightly or wrongly) that someone has done us wrong.

Humanity did not, and indeed could not, repent and fix the results of their sin so God took the penalty upon himself when Jesus died in our place (1 Peter 3:18).  So instead of God being embittered he undertook to repair the broken relationship when Jesus willingly took our punishment upon himself.

We are then faced with a similar choice.  We can hold on to our anger with the net result that we become embittered or we can get rid of that bitterness by forgiving - following the model of our saviour.

Ephesians 4:31-32
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

So God tells us that we ought to flee bittereness, and the way to do that is to recognise what Jesus has done for us that we may respond to others in kind.

Forgiveness means that you bear the hurt and penalty of that past act and try to heal broken relationships.  This is not always easy and may take some time. But God does require us to forgive and deal with our bitterness. And He is there to help. If you are finding it hard then turn to God and ask him to help - it may take time but it will happen if that is your desire.

I hope you find this helpful.

Answers are kindly provided by our friends at Christianity.net.au

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