In the “Smarter Living” column this week, the New York Times suggested a radical idea: forgive others. The column described in amusing, perceptive detail just how pervasive grudges are in our lives. In a way, the column’s advice reflects God’s common grace. Although the article is not grounded in Christian teaching, by God’s grace it stumbles into something undeniably true. We do need to forgive others, otherwise bitterness will slowly destroy us.
At the same time, the column’s advice is noticeably hollow. The forgiveness it advocates is based purely in subjective feelings and recent health research. The column exhorts readers to forgive, but for entirely self-interested reasons—feeling happier and living longer.
In stark contrast, the Bible encourages us to forgive each other “just as God in Christ has also forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). Forgiveness is not a self-help trick; it’s a response to the grace of God shown to us in the work of Christ. In his atoning death for our sin on the cross, Christ made God’s forgiveness available for all. It is only out of our immense gratitude for God’s forgiveness that we find the power and the motivation to forgive others.
God, we ask that you would give us grateful hearts as we recognize the cost Jesus paid to purchase our forgiveness. May this wonderfully good news transform our lives and our relationships with others. May it lead us to forgive others who have wronged us, letting go of the grudges we hold. Empower us to faithfully proclaim the forgiveness offered to all through Christ, which is offered freely in the Gospel.
About First Baptist Dallas and Dr. Robert Jeffress
Dr. Robert Jeffress is a best-selling author of 24 books, a nationally and internationally syndicated TV and radio host and the senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas, one of the largest and most influential churches in America. Pathway to Victory, Dr. Jeffress’ broadcast ministry, airs daily nationwide on more than 900 radio stations and is broadcast live to 195 countries. His latest book, “Choosing the Extraordinary Life,” is available in bookstores everywhere. He is an evangelical adviser to the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.