Or is it the other way around? Does it really make a difference? I’m not totally assured one way or the other. I know they are certainly intertwined in many cases. I guess I’d have to ask: can you have forgiveness without grace? Or, can you have grace without forgiveness?
I think we should take a good look at the meaning of both words from the source of all truth, The Bible.
Forgiveness: To acquit of sins. To give up resentment of or claim to extracting neither punishment or redress. To forgive implies that one gives up all claim to requital and to resentment or vengeful feelings.*
Grace: God’s free and unmerited favor toward sinful humanity. Unmerited favor given to another.*
* In each of the above definitions the first sentence came from the New Living Translation of the Holy Bible. Following sentences were paraphrased from Miriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition.
After looking at the definitions I found that I needed yet another definition. I needed the definition of “unmerited.” Not finding “unmerited” in either Reference book, I looked for “merit” and found it in the dictionary (only).
Merit: (Paraphrasing again): merit is something to be earned. In fact, while it can be considered as reward or punishment, it is usually applied in a positive way, such as: earning reward, honor, opportunity and esteem.
How many times I’ve heard someone say: “If he/she would just apologize (or give me a simple, ‘I’m sorry’, I could/would forgive him/her”. Or, “They’ve crossed the line one too many times! I will never forgive them.” Or, … well, I think you get the idea. And, I hope you now understand that “forgiveness” can only be offered in an unmerited manner. Forgiveness has no “if only they would do this or that…or any other attached strings or, fine print. You either forgive or you don’t—right where they are (right now), and/or whatever condition they are in (right now). Yes: it’s an either/or situation.
Don’t panic. I cannot think of anything greater than our triune God’s grace, except God, himself. Grace and forgiveness are blessings we receive from God. Out of God’s grace, He sent his son Jesus to an undeserved and incredibly painful death on a cross—as a sacrifice for our sin. But, that wasn’t the end of it. Jesus then carried that sin burden to Hell, …where the real price for past (and our continuing) sins was extracted. Make no mistake, God and his son Jesus, paid an unimaginable price for the forgiveness of your sins—and mine, as well. And, when that stone rolled away and Jesus Christ stepped out of that tomb—He handed us our free pass into Heaven.
In light of what Jesus willingly did for us, how can any Christian say, “I cannot forgive that person.” Grudges not only eat at our insides they feed Satan and his demons. We must stop saying, “I won’t!” Saying, “I can’t!” is more truthful, but it is still just an excuse. We will lose this battle if we charge into it alone. Remember, we are fighting supernatural beings.
Think about the size of the sin load Jesus carried to the cross to cancel your sin burden—and, it’s still working for you. Surely you can pass some of that along. And, if you’re still not sure; you NEED to read this…
Jesus is speaking… “14If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly father will forgive you. 15But if you refuse to forgive others, your father will not forgive your sins.” [Matthew 6: 14-15, NLT]
There are at least four other places in the New Testament (that I know of) that say the same thing. See: Mk 11:25, Luke 6:37, 11:4 and 17:3.
I know this will cause many people serious concern—as it should. There is only one place to take that concern. Call: JESUS. He won’t put you on hold; and He is, I firmly believe, the only one that can understand exactly where you are, and why. Pour your heart out to Him. Out of His grace He can fix every break and bruise. And when the two of you are done with the victorious battle against Satan, He will have another priceless blessing for you—His Peace.
Oh, …Get Ready!
In Christian love,