Why Is Forgiveness Important in Christian Teachings?

Forgive and forget” is a familiar adage, yet its true meaning and implications run much deeper than that simple phrase suggests particularly in the realm of Christianity. Forgiveness occupies a central position in Christian teachings and serves as a fundamental cornerstone in the foundation of one’s relationship with God and fellow human beings.

In Christianity, forgiveness is more than just an act of mercy or compassion; it entails transformative power that is crucial for the spiritual growth and overall well-being of both the forgiver and the forgiven.

This article provides an insightful exploration of the importance of forgiveness in Christian teachings, delving into the theological underpinnings and biblical narratives that foreground forgiveness as an indispensable virtue in the Christian faith. Join us as we unravel the significance of forgiveness and the profound ways in which it shapes the lives of believers and their communities.

wn1o 0fpdo 1 Why Is Forgiveness Important in Christian Teachings?

I. The Central Role of Forgiveness in Christian Doctrine

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The teachings of Christ place a significant emphasis on the act of forgiveness, which plays a central role in Christian doctrine. In the New Testament, Jesus explicitly instructs his followers on the importance of forgiveness, emphasizing that it is a prerequisite to receiving God’s grace and mercy. For example, in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches his followers to ask for forgiveness of their sins and additionally to forgive those who have sinned against them (Matthew 6:12, Mark 11:25).

Furthermore, Christ also enforces the concept that forgiveness is a matter of unlimited grace, as seen in Matthew 18:21-22, when Peter asks Jesus how many times he must forgive, to which Jesus replies, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

One of the primary benefits of forgiveness, as taught by Christ, is its ability to restore broken relationships and promote unity among believers. Hence, forgiveness serves as a cornerstone of the church community, fostering a healthy and loving environment where everyone is encouraged to grow in their faith.

Colossians 3:13 highlights this fact, stating, “Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” This verse reminds Christians that, just as God forgave their sins through Christ’s sacrifice, they too should extend forgiveness to others.

Forgiveness also helps to manifest the very character of God within the lives of believers. As Christians live out a life of continuous forgiveness, they reflect the heart of the Father, who forgives all humanity through the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross (1 John 2:2). Consequently, forgiveness plays a vital role in the process of sanctification, transforming the believer into the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29).

The central role of forgiveness in Christian doctrine is further supported by Jesus’ parables, such as the story of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:23-35). In this parable, Jesus emphasizes the importance of forgiveness by comparing it to the massive debt that has been forgiven by God. The message is clear – if God can forgive countless sins, then the believer should likewise be willing to forgive others, exemplifying the grace and mercy that has been extended to them.

II. Jesus’ Teachings on the Power of Forgiveness

In one of the most compelling examples of Jesus’ teachings on the power of forgiveness, we find the account of a sinful woman who was forgiven by Jesus in Luke 7:36-50. While dining at a Pharisee’s house, a woman known to be a sinner approached Jesus, weeping and wetting His feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with oil. Seeing this, the Pharisee judged both Jesus and the woman.

In response, Jesus shares a parable about two debtors, emphasizing that the one who has been forgiven much will love more. Jesus then says to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven… Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” From this account, we learn that:

  • Forgiveness is not earned, it is freely given by God’s grace.
  • When we experience true forgiveness, our hearts are filled with love and gratitude.
  • Faith is the key to receiving and experiencing forgiveness.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus emphasizes the importance of forgiving others as we have been forgiven. In Matthew 6:14-15, He says, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Jesus further demonstrates the crucial nature of forgiveness through the Lord’s Prayer, teaching us to ask God to “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). These powerful words remind us that:

  • Our relationship with God is directly affected by our willingness to forgive others.
  • Forgiveness is not only for our benefit but also for the benefit of those who have wronged us.
  • Unforgiveness hinders our spiritual growth and relationship with God.

Lastly, Jesus teaches the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35. This story illustrates the vastness of God’s forgiveness towards us and the expectation that we extend the same forgiveness to others.

A servant who owed an immense debt is forgiven by his master, but he in turn refuses to forgive a fellow servant who owes him a small debt. The master is outraged and sends the unforgiving servant to be tortured until his massive debt is repaid. Jesus closes by saying, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” This piercing parable conveys several crucial lessons:

  • The forgiveness we receive from God is much greater than any forgiveness we might extend to others.
  • When we refuse to forgive others, we invite judgment and consequences upon ourselves.
  • True forgiveness must come from the heart, not just in words or actions.

III. The Psychological and Spiritual Benefits of Forgiving Others

There is a clear connection between our psychological well-being and our ability to forgive others. The Bible highlights the importance of forgiveness. In Matthew 6:12, Jesus tells us to pray openly, asking God to “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Fulfilling this command can lead to a variety of emotional and spiritual blessings. Let’s explore some of the key psychological and spiritual benefits of forgiving others.

  1. Improved Mental Health: Research has shown that those who practice forgiveness tend to have lower levels of anxiety, depression, and overall stress. This benefit aligns with Paul’s counsel in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
  2. Releasing Unhealthy Emotional Attachments: When we hold onto resentment, we create emotional bonds with our transgressors. Forgiveness allows us to break free from these bonds, enabling us to release our anger, resentment, and desire for revenge. By choosing to forgive, we follow Christ’s example in Luke 23:34, where He uttered the words, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
  3. Personal Healing and Growth: Forgiving others not only benefits our emotional well-being, but also prompts personal growth and spiritual development. Through forgiveness, we learn humility, empathy, and unconditional love, ultimately becoming more Christ-like in our character (Ephesians 4:31-32, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”).

In addition to these psychological and emotional benefits, forgiveness also strengthens our relationship with God. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” By forgiving others, we demonstrate our obedience to God’s command and open ourselves to receiving His grace, forgiveness, and healing in our own lives.

Ultimately, the decision to forgive is an act of love and obedience towards God. By extending forgiveness, we imitate the mercy our Savior has shown to us, leading us to improved mental health, personal growth, and a closer connection with our Heavenly Father.

IV. How Practicing Forgiveness Fosters Christian Community

Practicing forgiveness is crucial to fostering a strong Christian community. Colossians 3:13 reminds us to “bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” By embracing forgiveness, we not only exemplify Christ’s teachings but also create a supportive and loving environment. The following are some ways forgiveness fosters a healthy Christian community:

  • Strengthens relationships: Holding on to grudges and resentment can cause friction and division among community members. When we practice forgiveness, we nurture trust, demonstrate compassion, and promote unity. These attributes solidify our relationships, enabling us to grow together in faith and love.
  • Fosters spiritual growth: Our spiritual growth is hindered when we dwell on past hurts and struggles to forgive others. Ephesians 4:32 states, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” When we follow this command, we open ourselves up to experience God’s grace and transformative power, leading to increased spiritual growth in both ourselves and our community.
  • Creates a supportive environment: In a community where forgiveness is practiced regularly, members feel safe and supported, enabling them to share their struggles, challenges, and victories openly. This atmosphere fosters encouragement, edification, and accountability, empowering our spiritual journey together.

Remember, forgiveness is not always easy, and at times, it may feel like a challenging process. However, as we practice forgiveness, we also experience the healing that comes from following Jesus’ example.

Matthew 18:21-22 illustrates Jesus’ emphasis on forgiveness when Peter asks Him how many times he should forgive a brother who sins against him. Jesus replies, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” By practicing forgiveness, we build a resilient Christian community founded on love, promoting unity, and fostering spiritual growth. Let us strive to walk in forgiveness, following the commandments of the Lord, and embracing the bond of peace and unity within our community.

V. Forgiveness and the Path to Redemption and Salvation

Forgiveness is a fundamental element of the Christian faith, and it paves the path toward redemption and salvation. In order to understand forgiveness, it is necessary to grasp the distinction between these three intertwined concepts. Forgiveness can be described as the act of pardoning someone’s offenses, while redemption refers to being released from the consequences of sin through the sacrificial death of Jesus. Finally, salvation is the deliverance from sin and its eternal consequences through Christ’s atonement and grace.

The first step towards forgiveness is recognizing that we are all sinners in need of God’s grace. In Romans 3:23, the Bible tells us explicitly that, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” With this understanding, we can realize that, just as we have been wronged by others, we have also sinned against God and our fellow human beings. Furthermore, Jesus instructed His followers to be merciful and forgiving, as stated in Matthew 18:21-22, where He told Peter to forgive not just seven times but “up to seventy times seven.”

This divine directive to be forgiving is substantiated by the following scriptural passages:

  • Matthew 6:14-15: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
  • Ephesians 4:32: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
  • Colossians 3:13: “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

Forgiveness is a vital component of our own redemption and salvation. By accepting the gift of Christ’s atonement for our sins, we receive forgiveness and are cleansed from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

It is essential to remember that salvation is not an earned privilege but the result of God’s grace and love for us. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” In embracing God’s forgiveness and extending it to others, we demonstrate the transformative power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and walk steadfastly on the path to eternal life.


Forgiveness is an integral part of Christian teachings and is essential for believers to incorporate into their lives. As Christians strive to follow the teachings of Jesus, they must remain mindful of the importance of forgiveness in order to keep their sense of kinship and humanity before God. Striving to forgive will help individuals on their journey to living a faith-filled life, strengthening their faith and their relationship with God.

Forgiveness is a central teaching within Christianity and a cornerstone of its teachings and values. In the Bible, we can find multiple accounts of how Jesus modeled forgiveness and encouraged his disciples to practice it with others. Consequently, Christian teachings state that forgiveness is a virtue that should be exercised freely and eagerly.

Forgiveness is essential for healthy relationships to exist because it allows us to nurture them with greater understanding and compassion. When people forgive each other, they can build being trust, restore relationships that have been damaged, and move forward with grace. This makes forgiveness an important factor in maintaining and growing healthy relationships of all kinds.

Forgiveness also helps us to become better people. When someone apologizes, we can decide to accept the apology and strive to move forward without harboring resentment in our hearts. Forgiveness helps us to learn and grow from our mistakes and encourages us to love and forgive unconditionally.

Finally, forgiveness is important to practicing Christian faith from a spiritual perspective. When we forgive, we can experience a deep sense of inner peace and compassionate understanding. Moreover, it helps to reduce feelings of hatred and anger that consume our hearts. In fact, many Christian teachings reflect the belief that in order to love God, you must learn to forgive others.

In conclusion, forgiveness is an essential practice within Christianity and its teachings. It leads to healthier relationships, helps us to become better people, and enables us to deepen our faith and love for God.

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