To forgive a fellow Christian for an offense first requires us to recognize the magnitude of the mercy that has been shown to us for the forgiveness of our own debts. Jesus Christ died in our place for the sins that we have committed (1 Peter 2:23-24 1 Peter 2:23-24 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judges righteously:
24 Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live to righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.
American King James Version×). As a result of His atoning sacrifice, our sins are forgiven, and God puts our sins away from us as far as east is from west (Psalms 103:12 Psalms 103:12As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
American King James Version×). This sacrifice was offered for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8 Romans 5:8But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
American King James Version×). While we were still treating God poorly —transgressing His law—He gave His only Son.
We as Christians are admonished to put away anger, malice, bitterness and wrath, and be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another as God has forgiven us.
Secondly, because of the incredible mercy that has been extended to us, we have a spiritual responsibility to extend that mercy to others—to show love to them, even if they aren’t behaving in a way that is particularly deserving of that love. Christ instructed us to love our enemies, to do good to those who spitefully use us, to bless those who curse us, and to be merciful to others as our Father is merciful to us (Luke 6:27-36 Luke 6:27-36 27 But I say to you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which spitefully use you.
29 And to him that smites you on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that takes away your cloak forbid not to take your coat also.
30 Give to every man that asks of you; and of him that takes away your goods ask them not again.
31 And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise.
32 For if you love them which love you, what thank have you? for sinners also love those that love them.
33 And if you do good to them which do good to you, what thank have you? for sinners also do even the same.
34 And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thank have you? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
35 But love you your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind to the unthankful and to the evil.
36 Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
American King James Version×). This godly love should be a hallmark of a Christian (John 13:34 John 13:34A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
American King James Version×).
Lastly, we have to recognize that we’re all learning and growing together, and that our patience and love is essential as we grow together. We must endeavor to be patient with one another, bearing each other’s faults in love, and forgiving as we were forgiven (Ephesians 4:12 Ephesians 4:12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
American King James Version×; Colossians 3:13 Colossians 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do you.
American King James Version×). It isn’t always easy. Sometimes people can do terribly hurtful things to us, but we cannot let their actions control us and our attitude.
There is a quote that says “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” There is a degree of truth to this statement. Holding a grudge and not forgiving someone often has a greater negative effect on you and your spiritual condition than it does on the person who wronged you. Instead, we as Christians are admonished to put away anger, malice, bitterness and wrath, and be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another as God has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:31-32 Ephesians 4:31-32 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.
American King James Version×).