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Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9
The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation. Exodus 34:6, 7
This is one of the most quoted passages in Scripture, repeated in: Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 4:31; 5:9-10; 2 Kings 13:23; 2 Chronicles 30:9; Nehemiah 9:17-32; Psalms 86:15, 103:8 and 145:8; Joel 2:13 and Jonah 4:2, to name a few. Numerous other passages allude to these verses. God demonstrated his glory, his honour and his character to Moses and to us.
Forgiveness is essentially a judicial term, related to debt. It is something which the offended person grants to the offender. Reconciliation, however, pertains rather to the relational aspect, in the sense that it implies restoration of the relationship between the offender and the offended. Forgiveness erases the wrong done and reconciliation suppresses the resentment between the two parties. Consequently, reconciliation is the logical outcome of forgiveness, even if it does not necessarily follow it – one can forgive someone for a reprehensible action and still not bond with this person again. For that matter, some situations make genuine reconciliation difficult. Forgiveness breaks the cycle of wrong and fault. By laying aside his bitterness, he who forgives finds healing. There is also the possibility the offender will be transformed.
How can we learn to forgive those who have sinned against us?
- Our experience of God’s forgiveness towards us makes forgiving others easier.
- Forgiveness is not a natural action, and therefore we need the strength and the grace of God to enable us to forgive others.