What response should I give when I have been wronged? This seems to be a universal question for human beings the world over. Through the centuries this question has been answered in different ways, by different religious and wisdom traditions.
According to Christianity, the appropriate response to this universal question is forgiveness. This is hardly surprising, for forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian faith.
Both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament affirm that our God is loving and forgiving. [Exodus 34:6-7; Luke 15:32] Even while on the cross, Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."[Luke 23:34] The climax of God's forgiveness is reached in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In the New Testament those who follow Jesus are repeatedly called to forgive those who wrong them. [Matthew 6:12,15;18:21-35; Mark 11:25; Luke 6:37, 17:4; Colossians 3:13] In fact, Christians are called to forgive as God has forgiven them. [Matthew 6:12; Luke 6:37; Colossians 3:13] As Jesus taught, we Christians should be willing to forgive others repeatedly and from our hearts. [Matthew 18:21,22,35]
The Bible stresses the importance of forgiving for Christians, but it does not deal fully with inner aspects of the process of forgiving or the application of that process to life situations. Over time, various traditions have arisen among Christians, to fill gaps left by scripture. In recent years, some of these traditions about Christian forgiving have been strongly challenged, particularly by insights from the field of psychotherapy. See Modern Views.
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Last Updated on November 17, 1997 by Rev. Dr. Douglas K. Showalter