My late uncle Randy was a colossal Batman fan. He grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s when Batman, played by Bruce Wayne, was a regular series on TV for several seasons. He assigned each of his childhood friend’s characters from the show. His dream car was an original Batmobile. Before he passed, he bought my son a die cast 1:24 scale replica of “the car” and turned my son into a fan of the original Batman series. My son still wants to watch an episode or two almost every day. As children, we look to superheroes as people who can save the world and do no wrong. There is absolutely no reason for us to learn to forgive them or anyone else, because everything they do is “good” and is always the right thing.
But that’s far from reality. There are many good people in this world—billions of them actually. Some may even be real-life heroes. They follow the law laid out for them. However, we are all sinful beings that need to learn to ask for forgiveness and extend grace to those around us. And we can only do that with the presence of the Holy Spirit in us.
Paul tells us in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Some of the best people I’ve ever known still make mistakes. They disappoint people. I disappoint people. They sin because they are sinners. I sin because I’m a sinner. So how are we supposed to do good in 100% of everything we do? We can’t, because we are sinners. Sinlessness is impossible, but we can strive to not sin. In fact, with Christ, we don’t want to sin. But we still do.
We can learn to forgive, though. The Bible is a great blueprint for us to follow. There are instances all over the Old and New Testaments that we can reference. In the Old Testament, the Jews were a people of the Law. They had the Word of God right there for them to look to, and even they weren’t sinless. And in Colossians, Paul says that no such list of laws will ever make us holy. You see, we will never be perfect until we are glorified in Christ. But forgiveness comes to those who seek Him and learn to extend to others the grace He has given us.
Jesus gives us an instruction in Mark 11:25. He says, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your wrongdoing.”
In this verse, Jesus petitions us to forgive others. Understanding we aren’t superheroes goes a long way in learning to forgive. Understanding that we are all sinners goes a long way in learning to forgive. Putting our pride and our conceit aside goes a long way in learning to forgive. Colossians 3:12-13 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put no compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.”
So most importantly, having an understanding that if Christ lives in you, you are commanded to forgive those who trespass against you with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. This is the most important step to extending God-breathed grace and forgiveness to others.
As today is International Forgiveness Day, my challenge to you is this: Who do you need to forgive? Maybe it will be easy. It will likely be hard. Who are you holding a grudge against that you need to let go of? Is there a friend or coworker or family member that you aren’t talking to because they upset you? Forgive them. Forgive them just as Jesus forgave you. And don’t do it for yourself or your own peace of mind. Do it because it’s what Jesus commands us to do in Colossians 3.
Matt Morris is a Brand Manager at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tennessee. He has served in ministry for over 11 years. Matt is married to Carmen and they have twins, Hudson and Harper. Matt and his family are members of First Baptist Church Mount Juliet, where he serves as a deacon.