Arithmetic is a challenging topic for many (including myself). Applying the right formula to a specific problem will give the right answer, but the wrong formula will lead us down a perplexing path. In the same way, when we add up and keep a tally of the wrongs done to us, we’re applying the wrong formula for our relationships. But if we apply forgiveness, we infuse our relationships with beauty and glory.
“The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression.” (Proverbs 19:11, NKJV)
Because we have “put on Christ” and follow Him, we have a new formula for relating with others. We must deal with others the way He has dealt with us. We forgive those who wrong us so that they might see Christ’s heart of love through the grace that we offer them.
1. The crown of God’s favor.
Solomon tells us that to forgive is our “glory” (tip’ĕrĕth). What makes our relationships beautiful is forgiveness. Our “glory” in forgiveness is the bright crown of God’s approval upon us and His favor upon our relationships. Really, to overlook a sin against us is to exhibit the character of Jesus. This is the kind of arithmetic that leads to health in our lives and relationships.
2. The story of Joseph.
One of the most powerful and poignant pictures of forgiveness in the Old Testament is the story of Joseph with his brothers. Joseph had been sold into slavery because his brothers were jealous of him (Genesis 37:18-28). After years of God’s provision and power in his life, Joseph went from being a slave to a high-ranking official in Egypt. God helped Joseph see a future famine and gave him the wisdom to lead Egypt to prepare for it. When the famine hit the Middle East, Jacob’s brothers came to Egypt on a mission to get food for their families.
The closing scene of the sage is Joseph standing before his brothers as a prince in Egypt. They asked for Joseph to forgive them. The primary term in the Old Testament for forgiveness is nāshā’, which literally means “to carry the burden away.” It is a picture of the guilt of sin being picked up and carried away. Joseph embraced his brothers with loving forgiveness (Genesis 50:15-21). Instead of harboring the wounds in his heart, he showed the kindness of forgiveness.
It’s hard to forgive, but as a follower of Jesus, it is a must! As we listen to the words of Solomon this morning, let’s remember that grace is the attitude of forgiveness. It is the same attitude that God has for us. We have all sinned against God, but He sent Jesus to forgive us, to extend grace to us! As Jesus has forgiven us, we forgive others. The closer our walk with Jesus, the more we will infuse the glory of forgiveness into our relationships.
Stop. Take a breath. And pray:
“God, as I submit to Your Spirit, help me to infuse every relationship with the glory of forgiveness rather than counting up the wrongs done to me in a relationship?”