Forgiveness literally, implies having no more wish to punish someone for an offence earlier committed; or simply, to show mercy to someone, no longer having ill-feelings towards him. In the New Testament of the Holy Bible, forgiveness is used to show God’s initiative by which He restored man, full of sin to His fellowship. The offender must have shown a sign of remorse and must have decided for Christ to live a new life. Paul began by congratulating Philemon on his creditable role in the service of the church and for his love and faith in Jesus.
In Paul’s Epistle to his friend, Philemon, he appeals to him most passionately to forgive his erstwhile runaway slave, called Onesimus, whom Paul had met elsewhere and converted him. Paul appeals to Philemon therefore, in a heart-touching manner, to accept Onesimus back and forgive him of whatever offence he must have committed (Paul did not know Onesimus’ offence) and restore him to his relationship, as a brother, no longer as a slave. This plea for mercy is contained in Philemon Chapter 1 verse 10-18. Although Paul could have commanded Philemon to have Onesimus back, but he would not, for the sake of love:
“I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus whose father I have become in my imprisonment. (Formerly, he was useless to you, but now, he is indeed useful to you and to me). I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart … that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, as a beloved brother … ‘
As beneficiaries of the mercy and forgiveness of God, christians, as a matter of God’s commandment, should forgive one another. Indeed, there should not be any limit as to how often christians should forgive their offenders individually. Matthew 6:14-15 points out the very essence or reason why christians must forgive their offenders:
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you; but, if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
It is therefore clear that if one does not forgive, he cannot receive forgiveness from God. It therefore behoves on every christian to strive to show in his everyday living the same spirit which made God to forgive them their sins. At any point, therefore, christians ought to reconcile with their offenders and forgive them so as to be sure of God’s forgiveness each time they pray.
Lessons To Learn From Forgiveness and Why Christians Should Forgive One Another
- If we must be forgiven by God, then we must forgive others. The act of forgiveness should extend to rehabilitation and reconciliation.
- There should not be any limit to forgiveness. We should forgive as many times as we are offended.
- Christians should intercede for others as Paul interceded for Onesimus.
- By forgiving, we are obeying God.
- Forgiveness restores peace, love, unity among brothers.
- Forgiveness is no more counting or holding of offence against someone. As such, no more to punish the person. This is a pardon granted to the offender as a result of his repentance.
- It is a God-type pardon that comes from the heart due to God’s love.
- Paul wrote to Philemon to forgive his slave Onesimus and accept him back with love.
- Christians are to forgive one another on a countless number of seventy times seven which is forgiveness without number.
- For it we fail to forgive others, God will not forgive us.