What Does Jesus Say About Forgiveness?

What Does Jesus Say About Forgiveness?

Forgiveness is more than just a nice thing to do. It’s one of the best ways we can imitate Jesus. So what does Jesus say about forgiveness?

Jesus forgave a lot. During His ministry, He extended forgiveness freely and without limit to all kinds of people. Agents of the oppressive empire, religious outcasts, and even his own executioners found forgiveness through Jesus. 

But forgiveness isn’t easy. Letting go of pain and anger can feel impossible sometimes, but it is one of the most important ways to imitate Jesus. Let’s explore how Jesus forgave others, and what it shows us about how we can forgive today. 

How Did Jesus Talk About Forgiveness?

Jesus teaches about the importance of forgiveness throughout the Gospels. He emphasizes the need for forgiveness in two ways–receiving forgiveness from God, and extending forgiveness to others.

One of the clearest examples of Jesus’ teachings on forgiveness is the Lord’s Prayer. In this prayer, Jesus teaches his followers to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” This passage shows us that forgiveness is a reciprocal process. That to Jesus, out willingness to forgive will reflect God’s forgiveness of us. 

In the gospels, Jesus also tells a parable about a man who was forgiven a large debt by his master. But the man refused to forgive a smaller debt owed to him by a fellow servant. The master was angered by the servant’s lack of forgiveness.

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, he asked God to forgive his executioners because they didn’t know what they were doing. (Luke 23:34)

Jesus also teaches that forgiveness is not just a one-time event but something that needs to be continually practiced. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17) 

Jesus shows us that forgiveness is a process and that it’s essential to be patient and empathetic.

How Forgiveness Improves Our Lives

Forgiveness helps to improve our emotional well-being, strengthen relationships and facilitate personal growth, as well as promoting spiritual growth. It can bring peace to our mind and heart and even heal our relationships.

Studies show that forgiveness can positively impact both physical and mental health. For example, when we experience hurt or betrayal, the brain’s emotional centers become activated. These areas process negative emotions such as anger and fear. When we forgive, these emotional centers begin to settle down, shifting our mindset and reducing feelings of anger and resentment, and increasing empathy and compassion.

5 Steps of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a process and it can take time. Here are a few tips that can help you start forgiving others. These steps won’t guarantee healed relationships, but they can help you get into a healthy mindset as you move toward forgiveness:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings: It’s important to acknowledge and validate feelings of anger, hurt, and betrayal. It’s okay to feel these emotions.
  2. Reflect on the situation: Take some time to reflect on the situation and try to understand the other person’s perspective. You don’t have to fully understand or agree with their actions. This can help to increase your empathy and understanding toward them.
  3. Seek support: You may find it helpful to talk to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist about your feelings and experiences. They can provide you with a listening ear and support as you work through the process of forgiveness.
  4. Practice self-care: Forgiveness can be emotionally taxing, and taking care of yourself during this process is important. Make sure you are getting enough rest, exercise, and nutrition.
  5. Make a decision to forgive: Forgiveness is a choice, and it’s important to make the decision to forgive. This does not mean that you have to forget what happened or excuse harmful behavior, but it means you are choosing to let go of anger and resentment and move forward.

Forgiveness is about letting go of the need to get back or get even. It’s not about giving people what they deserve. Instead, it’s about refusing to let the pain you’ve gone through get passed along to others. It’s absorbing pain and not paying it forward.

So, who needs forgiveness in your life?