“As a called servant of Christ and by his authority, I forgive you all your sins…”
So we hear week after week as we confess our sins together in worship, and our called minister pronounces forgiveness to us.
Yet, has anything really happened at that moment? Has our spiritual situation changed in any way?
No, not really. Jesus’ death on the cross 2,000 years ago won forgiveness, cleansed us of our sins, gave us his rightousness. When we were called into faith, we were covered with the robe of Jesus’ righteousness, and we stand in grace. Even before we said the words of confession, and before the pastor spoke the words of forgiveness, already we were clean before God.
So why do we do it? Well, it’s nice to hear, isn’t it?
It’s more than just “nice” to hear! It’s the best news we could ever hear! When we look back over the course of the week and all our failures stand out like painful sores, what better thing to do than to cry out to God, “I’m sorry! Forgive me!” and hear him say back to us through his servant, “You. Are. Clean!”
This strengthens our faith, renews our hope, and deepens our relationship with our Heavenly Father and with our Savior. It is a powerful moment.
Step five in the Six Steps of Granting Forgiveness is this:
5. Communicate your act of forgiveness.
In other words, say the words… “I forgive you!” Make it clear that you have forgiven. Let the person know that you are not going to hold their sin against them.
When we do this, three wonderful things are happening:
- We are showing love to another person and releasing them from feelings of guilt toward us
- We are deepening our relationship with them
- We are reflecting the kind of love that our Heavenly Father has for us, and following the example of our Savior
Sometimes, saying that we forgive someone can be really, really hard. Especially if we have strong feelings of hurt or anger still. But do not underestimate the power of God to help you through that. The God who is big enough to forgive all your sins can help you forgive the sins someone has committed against you.