Forgiveness is something that is at the heart of the Christian experience. If it were not for the forgiveness of sin that God offers through the sacrifice of his one and only Son, I’m not all that sure people would be lining up to become followers of Christ. There is a deep need inside every man to be forgiven for the wrong he has done — to others, to himself and ultimately to God.
I find people from my childhood and youth and the first thing in my heart is, “I’m sorry.” I remember who I was back then and the things I have done. I’ve changed, and express how sorry I am for my former actions and words. The experience brings peace. If we desire authentic and lasting peace, it comes only through a right relationship with God and others.
Paul writes to the Ephesians that Christ himself is our peace; He has broken down every wall that divides and separates (Ephesians 2:14). Think about how the lack of forgiveness divides and separates, and the end result is a lack of peace in our hearts and lives. Forgiveness does not condone what the other person has done to us, but it allows us to get past it and start fresh. When we are the one who messed up, and others look on in judgment, it is their responsibility to search deep within to find the compassion of God to forgive and allow the relationship to be renewed.
Job lost everything and suffered greatly; he’s the classic example of a man who suffered greatly for no other reason than he was a faithful servant of the living God. His so-called friends came by and proceeded to discuss the theology of why this evil was happening to Job. He must be a great sinner, more than anyone else, for such bad stuff to be happening to him (Job 4:8 for example). What a statement of judgment and condemnation. Job is getting what he deserves. So, if anyone had a reason to hold a grudge, it was Job. He could have held a grudge against his friends for the way they treated him, and even a grudge against God for treating him the way he did. But catch what happens in this verse:
“After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10).
Job’s friends did not understand how a godly person could ever go through his degree of suffering unless God was judging him for his sin. But his friends were wrong and God intervened. God says, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:7).
Not much has really changed after thousands of years. Those in the church often wrongly equate trouble and hardship with sin (what have I done to deserve this?). Sometimes this can be true since actions have consequences, but often trouble is simply a consequence of the fall of mankind, or a call on one’s life (like Joseph in Egypt or Paul’s hardships – 2 Corinthians 11:24-26).
Joseph was required to forgive his brothers. Jesus was required to forgive Judas and the disciples for betrayal. You and I are required to forgive those who wrongfully judge us. This forgiveness is often THE most important step in gaining restoration in our own lives.
Job 42:10 reveals that it was not until Job prayed for his friends that he was restored in the things he had lost. Is there someone in your life you need to forgive? It may be the missing piece of your puzzle for restoration.