So You Also Must Forgive
"Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." Colossians 3:13 (ESV)
Paul says in Ephesians 4:32 that God forgives us on the basis of the sacrifice of Christ. Forgiveness of our sin cost God the life of His Son. In Colossians 3:13, Paul says that Jesus Christ, the Lord, has forgiven us on the basis of His own personal death.
As the Lord has forgiven us, so we are to forgive others.
On what basis? On our death?
Becoming a Christian means complete identification with Jesus Christ, a radical return to the Original Plan in which God created us in His image. We are spiritually immersed into all that Christ is and does. We are spiritually baptized into His death, burial, and resurrection. We no longer live to ourselves, but to Christ.
We have died to ourselves, yet we live in Christ.
"Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." Romans 6:8-11 (ESV)
I have no personal rights against whom anyone can offend. I have no right to exact repayment or revenge for wrong done to my personal property or condition...I have no personal property or condition. All I have is in Christ. He alone can determine to exact repayment or revenge for any wrong done to Him.
I realize there are wicked people who desire to steal from me or hurt me and those I care about. I may rightly exercise caution. I may lock my home and car. I may support civil laws that prohibit stealing and hurting. I may give my city and state money to help provide police protection and enforcement of those laws. I may even use a weapon to defend my home and family. But in all my caution I do not hate the wicked people. Rather than desiring their destruction, Christ's Spirit in me desires that the laws and civil judgement will bring the wicked to repentence and return to their Creator in love and joy.
But still, wicked people may steal from me or hurt me and those I care about.
When that happens, I still do not hate the wicked people. The sin that drives them to steal and hurt is the same sin from which God forgave me, the same sin for which Jesus died on my behalf.
Even if I or those who I care about lose something valuable, our property or even our lives, we cannot hate the wicked one responsible. Only God can allow wickedness to exercise its evil. If God allows evil to touch me, it's only because God has ultimate good in mind. Being a Christian means you trust God to be good, all of the time.
So, I will forgive the stealer or hurter. I will forgive on the basis of my death. The life I now live, I live in Christ. And Christ alone can exact repayment or revenge for sin.
If I can forgive a stealer or hurter, even a murderer, certainly I can forgive someone who says an unkind word or treats me with disrespect.
Certainly I can bear with others and forgive their complaints.
Because I belong to Christ.