Forgiveness Applied to Relationships

In the realm of life dealing with tough situations and relationships, the truth of forgiveness will be tested. God desires this type of response, “The truth, you see, is that when your life becomes a temple, a home for Jesus, you begin to treat them as you would treat Him. You begin to realize that all ground is holy ground, because God is there. You begin to see every situation as a potential act of worship, a time to magnify the name of the Lord.”[1] God promises his hope and redemption to man through the power of the cross. God’s plan is to draw men back to Himself through the forgiveness that is available through the cross and resurrection of Christ.

The local church is the biblical pattern that God calls each person to find community and acceptance in order to live a Christ-centered life. This quote explains, “The Holy Spirit often gives us the conviction that God has spoken through the Church by showing us that the church is the community in whom and through whom God does his work in the world.[2]

Relationships that are grounded in the forgiveness from God vertically will be able to give forgiveness out horizontally to others. Now Jesus turns to believers and commands them to forgive in the same way, even when it means paying for the offense - just as Jesus did for His children. We see this concept in the freedom of God’s people after the exodus and then as enjoyed in their own land. This is the sense that the Pharisees intended when they boasted to Jesus that they, “have never yet been enslaved to anyone” (John 8:3 NASB)”[3] In forgiveness, letting go of and releasing resentment is the constant that is demanded always by love.

As believers, we are to extend the love and hope of Christ to a dying and hurting world. This quote explains further, “Christians must fearlessly, boldly, and enthusiastically tell a hurting world that Jesus loves them.[4] This type of lifestyle is only lived through the power of Christ in a person’s life. The goal must be to seek God’s standard and attributes when it comes to relationships to other people. How is the church to respond to the culture surrounding them that are far from God? This quote explains, “As the Christian culture around is more or less holy, so these Christians are more or less holy. But God has not called us to be like those around us. He has called us to be like Himself. Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God.”[5] When God’s Spirit fills a person’s life and they extend God’s grace and forgiveness, people will respond to the message of salvation.

Forgiveness is more than a moment in time, but a lifestyle of releasing people and situations to God. This quote explains further, “purge yourself of your relational faults by taking an inventory of how you put your interests ahead of His and getting rid of anything that blocks intimacy with Him. Approach God just as you are, tuning in to your passion to know Him and to honor Him above all others.[6] Leaders have an obligation through the forgiveness of the cross to be God’s ambassadors of hope to a dying world. A leader is not simply a “doormat” that people walk over, but they set an example of a shepherd to lead the flock of God. Scripture explains many illustrations of a shepherd. A shepherd is someone who is gentle at heart but has a solid heart to obey and follow God. Jesus was described as a shepherd, “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are the not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel” (Matt. 2:6, Micah 5:2).[7] A shepherd leader is able to understand the hurts of their followers and gently lead them to be passionate about forgiveness in order to be free to serve Christ.

Dealing with tough relationships is a reality of everyday life. The question is will a person respond or react to frustrating times of life? The answer to this question is clearly, “In situations we can not change, the only healthy response is humility. Though it may sound trite or ineffectual, we must leave it all to God, knowing He will take care of us.”[8] Our response to other people directly affects our relationship with God. John Maxwell states, “Relationships are the glue that holds team members together.[9] Leaders are to be set free from bitterness in order to reveal a Christ-like example in leadership. Forgiveness is much more than an idea but an action that must be applied to relationships.

[1] David Jeremiah. My Heart’s Desire: Living Every Moment in the Wonder of Worship. (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1994. 46).

[2] Michael J. Murray. Reason for the Hope Within. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1999, 158).

[3] R.K. McGregor Wright. No Place for Sovereignty: What’s Wrong with Freewill Theism. (Downers Grove, IL Intervarsity Press, 1996).

[4] Thom Rainer. The Unexpected Journey: Conversations with people who turned from other beliefs to Jesus. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 2005, 44).

[5] Jerry Bridges. The Pursuit of Holiness. (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 1996, 22).

[6] Larry Crabb. The Papa Prayer: The Prayer You Have Never Prayed. (Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers, 2006, 78).

[7] Towns, Elmer. The Good Book on Leadership: Case Studies from the Bible. (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2005, 211-212).

[8] David Jeremiah. Searching for Heaven and Earth: How to Find What Really Matters in Life. (Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers, 2004, 218-219).

[9] Maxwell, John. The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2002, 110).