How to experience God’s healing power of forgiveness?

Forgiving others sets us free

By Bernice Gan and Hannah Peled 

When our loved ones are sick, we do everything we can to help them get well, even staying by their side throughout the night. In Luke 5:17-26, four friends also resorted to desperate measures in a crowded house to bring their paralysed friend to Jesus to be healed – by cutting a hole in the roof and lowering the man down right in front of Jesus.  

What is interesting is that Jesus’ priority when he saw the paralysed man was not healing him physically but offering him forgiveness. Jesus said to him, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” 

Jesus saw beyond the man’s physical state and knew his real needs. He knows that all of us need forgiveness from our sins so that we can be made right with God and live as His children. 

The Greek word for forgiveness, ἀφίημι (aphiemi), is to release from legal or moral obligation or consequence, to cancel, remit, pardon. God showed His kindness to us by sending Jesus to bear our sins on the cross, so we no longer need to live in guilt, shame, fear of death and eternal separation from God. 

Freedom in forgiveness 

Photo by Unsplash / Alex Shute 

In the same way that Jesus has pardoned us, He tells us to forgive others, to cease from revenge, to cancel all debts owed, so that we can be set free from the burden of unforgiveness. 

Studies have found that forgiving others can reap huge rewards for our health such as reducing blood pressure, anxiety and stress.  

Jesus forgave the paralysed man and asked him to get up and take his mat. He did and went home praising God. In the same way, we too must rise up, receive His forgiveness, forgive others and live our lives in victory praising God. 

Since we live in an imperfect world, it is inevitable that we experience hurt, injustice and betrayal. No matter how deep we bury such memories and feelings, like buried roots they grow back to the surface and bear the fruit of resentment and bitterness. 

The Lord’s Prayer sums it up: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”. Our unforgiveness hinders our ability to receive from God.  

“Father, forgive them” 

Because we are saved by grace, we are called to channel grace to those who have wronged us. Jesus illustrated this in the parable of the unforgiving servant. Enduring the worst pain, our Master prayed for his enemies: “Father, forgive them”. 

Forgiveness is not easy, especially when the pain is inflicted by those dear to us. Remember the story of Joseph, betrayed by his own brothers? 

Assaulted, sold, enslaved. Joseph named his first-born Manasseh as a reminder that God has removed his toil and removed him from his father’s house. Perhaps Joseph tried to forget, to move on, but his story continued. God brought his brothers before him, and the bitter memories resurfaced. Joseph could have chosen vengeance, but he acknowledged God’s sovereignty and understood that what men intended for evil, God had turned around for good. Joseph chose to forgive his brothers. 

Photo by Unsplash / Jametlene Reskp

We may not always see good coming out of the evil or offense that someone did to us. Sometimes the damage remains. Forgiveness does not mean justifying their wrong nor enduring abuse. Nevertheless, God wants us to trust Him and release those who owe us, so we can experience His healing and freedom.  

As Lewis Smedes wrote in his book Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve – “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” 

Read and Reflect

  1. Do you have any unforgiveness in your heart? How does this unforgiveness hinder your relationship with God? 
  1. How can you experience God’s freedom through forgiveness? 

Read with your child

Were there times when you did not behave well or when you did something wrong and were punished? Because we are human, we make mistakes. But God has forgiven us of all our sins because Jesus paid the price on the cross. As God has forgiven us, we must also forgive others so that we can share God’s love with them.  

Dear God, help me to forgive others as you have forgiven us.  

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