Forgiving Much

Pastor Michael Bowman

“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)

God isn’t thin or cheap with forgiveness. He overflows with it. One of the striking things when you read through scripture, or just look around you, is that God isn’t a perfectionist. He’s way better than that. A perfectionist wouldn’t put up with Abraham, Isaac or Jacob. A perfectionist wouldn’t call David a man after his own heart. What would you think of the women in Jesus’ genealogy if you met them? Or Paul, as one untimely born, killing the people of God before the Lord calls him. We wouldn’t have used any of them. We wouldn’t choose any of them. God did. Christ died for them. He forgives much. None of them deserved his forgiveness. We fit right in. 

Look at Jesus’ words in Luke 7:44-48: “Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Would you forgive a woman like that? The disciples thought he was making a mistake, but Jesus was revealing the very heart of God. He forgives much. 

This is then an example for us to follow. There are sins that are easy to forgive. Not all sins are equal. Some will have fewer consequences and may hurt you less. Though we don’t want to belittle the significance of any sin, it’s simply true that some will do more damage. There is a difference in damage between what a hammer can do when hit against drywall and what a sledge hammer can do when used on the same wall. So it is with sin. The consequences of a loose word, though damaging, is not at the same level as a murder. 

It’s much easier to forgive a loose word then it would be a murder. Surely God wouldn’t expect that of us, would he? Is there any example of someone doing that in scripture? “And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:59-60). Stephen’s stoning is written to directly recall Christ’s own death, and his own call for forgiveness of the murderers around him. That’s a striking example for us. It’s not to say it’s easy. Remember, as we have discussed already in this series, forgiveness is costly not cheap. But how much more has God forgiven you? 

Murder is just one of many examples. There are many great sins that need a great amount of forgiveness. It is both in the small everyday sins, the ones that would be easy to brush aside, and those that hurt the most and cut the deepest that God has forgiven. There is no sin greater than his power to forgive. Take that as a reminder, maybe even a challenge. If you have been forgiven much you should also, like Christ, forgive much.