The Role of Forgiveness in Christian Spirituality

In this article, we will explore the significance of forgiveness in Christian spirituality. Forgiving someone who has hurt you may be a challenging and painful task, but it holds immense importance in the life of a Christian. Why should we forgive? This article aims to shed light on the moral righteousness of forgiveness. We will delve into the essence of forgiveness as an act and an attitude, discovering that it is a reflection of God’s character. As Christians, we are called to emulate His love and goodness, even if it means acting on someone else’s behalf and not our own.

The Biblical Foundation of Forgiveness

As a prisoner for the Lord, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be humble, gentle, patient, and bear with one another in love. Make every effort to keep unity through peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

When we examine what the Bible has to say about forgiveness, we find that it emphasizes the importance of forgiveness because God first forgave us. The primary focus is not on our ability to forgive others but on our acceptance of God’s forgiveness.

In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace. (Ephesians 1:7)

God simply instructs us to treat others as He has treated us. He loves the world and desires us to love His children as we love ourselves. This goes beyond the golden rule; it calls us to godliness. It necessitates forgiveness, a radical forgiveness that mirrors God’s own forgiveness and requires us to rely on Him.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Forgiving as Christ did involves sacrifice. It means being willing to lay down our lives for our friends and even loving our enemies.

The Consequences of Unforgiveness

In the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6, Jesus instructs us to ask the Lord to “forgive us as we forgive others.” In the subsequent passage, Jesus elaborates on the importance of forgiveness. He states that if we forgive, God will forgive us, but if we refuse to forgive, He will withhold His forgiveness. This emphasizes the significant consequences of unforgiveness.

Aligning Ourselves with God through Forgiveness

The Bible also teaches us that faith is a gift from God. When we align ourselves with His will and follow His commands, He provides us with what we need. He knows our struggles and cares deeply about our challenges, including the difficulty and pain associated with forgiveness. God understands that forgiveness is not an easy task, but He also knows that no one has suffered more or paid a greater price for forgiveness than He has. He is with us on our journey of forgiveness, supporting and caring for us as we lay down our lives. By joining Him in forgiveness, we align ourselves with His character.

Forgiving Seventy Times Seven

In Matthew 18, Peter poses a question to Jesus that many of us may ask when we begin practicing forgiveness. He asks how many times he should forgive someone close to him who repeatedly wrongs him. Peter suggests forgiving up to seven times, perhaps anticipating a generous response from the Lord. However, Jesus’ answer goes beyond Peter’s expectations.

Jesus replied, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22)

Jesus emphasizes that we are called to forgive our brothers and sisters as many times as necessary, never refusing to forgive. Even when forgiveness seems impossible, we should remember that this is precisely how God forgives us.

The Process of Forgiveness

Jesus’ response also suggests that forgiveness is not a one-time event for each transgression. It is an ongoing process that often requires us to forgive the same transgression repeatedly in our hearts. We are called to forgive until our hearts are healed and free from resentment, until we have truly embraced a stance of love towards the other person. Forgiveness is more than a ritual; it is a continuous practice and a way of life. While it may appear to be a lifelong commitment, the discipline of forgiveness can be incredibly liberating and refreshing. Embracing forgiveness as a habit or discipline allows our hearts to soften, enabling us to bless others repeatedly. This process helps us extend grace to others, recognizing that we too have been forgiven. It is a necessary practice in the discipline of loving others.

Christian Counseling: Harnessing the Power of Forgiveness

In Christian counseling, we have the opportunity to explore forgiveness with our clients. We can help them recognize the ways in which they have already overcome challenges in life and how God has uniquely shaped them for greatness and joy in their relationships. By tapping into the power of forgiveness, our clients can experience profound healing and growth in their spiritual journey.


In conclusion, forgiveness plays a pivotal role in Christian spirituality. It aligns us with God’s character and reflects His love and goodness. As Christians, we are called to forgive as God has forgiven us. It may be a challenging process, but the rewards are immense. Through forgiveness, we can experience healing, freedom from resentment, and a deepening of our love for others. Let us embrace forgiveness as a discipline, knowing that we are participating in God’s work and reflecting His glory in our lives.