Forgiveness is a word of great importance and significance throughout Christian religions worldwide. The word is based on the word forgive, defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary as “to give up resentment of or claim to requital for <forgive an insult>” or “to cease to feel resentment against to forgive one’s enemies”. A dictionary cannot, however, explain any reasoning behind why any person would want to forgive or offer forgiveness, especially if the wrong-doing caused much pain and suffering to the victim. To gain insight of the word as seen through the eyes of Christianity, one would have to understand a couple basic core beliefs of the religion itself.
Christianity is anchored in a belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God who was sacrificed and died on the cross to wash away the sins of mankind. The widely accepted record for Christianity is the Bible, with particular emphasis on the New Testament when relating to the words and teaching of Jesus. True followers of Christ believe Jesus was sent to teach people how to be children of God, what God expected and to provide an example of how Christians should live their lives. Among his many teachings to his disciples, followers and crowds to which he spoke was his message of forgiveness. Even at his own crucifixion, according to the book of chapter 23, verse 34: “Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”.
Such a powerful message to impart on his believers at a time when others would be desperately seeking a way out or cursing their tormentors! Is it any wonder that a primary message and teaching of the Christian religion would be anything other than forgiveness? Further delving into the Bible perhaps offers more reasoning to substantiate the importance of forgiveness in Christianity.
Forgive Each Other
There are many references of Jesus directing people to forgive each other in the Bible. From the book of chapter 6, verse 37: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven”. A similar verse is taken a step further in the book of chapter 6, verses 14-15: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” The apostle Paul wrote in his letters to the Colossians in chapter 3, verse 13: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
You will find references to and about forgiveness throughout the New Testament, and entire pages could be filled with quotes from the Bible. As passages are read and absorbed, a common theme begins to shed light on the true reason behind forgiveness in Christianity. Christians are forgiven all their wrongdoings by the grace of God. God sent his son to die for the sins of Christians, to atone and wash away the bad things inherently done by mankind. Without this forgiveness by God, they would never be allowed to enter the kingdom of heaven. God will forgive people all kinds of atrocious sins, even sins directly aimed at God. What he is asking for in return is to follow his example and the example set by his son, Jesus Christ. Christians are asked to learn to forgive others, knowing that in return God will forgive the wrongs that Christians do. Christians are taught to understand that they are not perfect, they are not sin-free and everybody deserves to be forgiven.
Forgiveness gives Peace
To a Christian, forgiveness is truly many things beyond a dictionary definition. It is a belief in not only forgiving others, but also being secure in the knowledge that their own sins will be forgiven by God. Forgiveness is both a price to pay and a reward to receive. Forgiveness offers Christians peace, understanding and salvation. Forgiveness is a gift bestowed upon them by God to pass on to others.