In order to forgive, we need to identify with the person who sinned against us. Isn’t that what Jesus did when he came to earth? He became one with us—became our sin. That is how sins are forgiven. In order for us to forgive, we need to enter into the Gethsemane prayer with Jesus:
“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Mark 14)
It’s God’s strength and our obedience to his will that will enable us to forgive.
What happens if you have to forgive the same person for the same sin over and over and over and over again? Then you forgive him again and again and again, and every time you forgive you start feeling more and more like “the holy one” forgiving this rascal who doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. You feel better than the other person—you wear the white hat; he wears the black one.
How do you end this vicious cycle of one-upmanship? You go to Gethsemane and pray the prayer with Jesus. You are at the foot of the cross with the one who forgives you over and over, and you are there with someone who needs your forgiveness. It’s about love and mercy, not anything you or he deserves.
Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22
Your willingness and ability to forgive sins is a sign of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in you. What is the first sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit? It’s the willingness and ability to forgive sins. You love. You forgive.