5. Forgive As God Forgives You

How does forgiving and resolving lead to reconciliation?

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Colossians 3:12-13

To forgive as God forgives, let’s begin by looking at how God forgives.

How does God forgive me?

For each of the False Substitutes we have for forgiving, select the OPPOSITE way that God forgives us.

God's Forgiveness

False Substitutes for Forgiving


Punishing: I’m going to make you hurt like you hurt me.



Recalling: I will never let you forget what you did!



Judging: You are a bad person and don’t deserve anything good from me or others.


Earning: I won’t forgive you until you deserve it or earn it.



Excusing: That’s okay, No problem, or Don’t worry about it.

  1. My sins are not excused; God’s justice required blood.

    • Hebrews 9:22; 1 John 1:7

  2. ​My sins needed to be punished – Christ paid the full price for my sins.

    • Isaiah 53:5-6; John 19:30

  3. My forgiveness is not conditional upon my works.

    • Romans 6:23b; Ephesians 2:8-10

  4. My past sins will not be brought up and used against me.

    • Jeremiah 31:34; 1 Corinthians 6:11

  5. My sins do not condemn me.

    • John 3:17; Romans 8:1

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32

What is impossible for man . . .

Forgiving others as God has forgiven us is impossible – on our own strength. Yet our God calls us to do to others as He has done for us. He promises to give His children the ability to do what He calls us to do:


Click on each passage below to view a summary of God’s promise.

  • 1 Peter 2:24

  • Philippians 4:13

  • 2 Peter 1:3-4

We cannot on our own strength forgive as God does. But God promises to empower us to do what he commands. When we struggle to forgive, we can confess our weak faith and ask God to enable us to forgive as He has forgiven us. Just like Jesus’ disciples responded when Jesus taught them about forgiving others: “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5).

Does forgiveness remove consequences?

God’s forgiveness removes the most serious consequence of all – eternal separation from Him!

However, the Bible teaches that forgiveness does not necessarily remove the earthly consequences.

Hover your cursor over the green boxes to see how both Moses and King David endured earthly consequences while being forgiven of the eternal consequence of separation from God.

Moses was Forgiven

But also endured Consequences

Moses disobeyed God when he struck the rock to produce water instead of speaking to it (Numbers 20:10-13).

King David was Forgiven

But also endured Consequences

King David misused his authority, having an affair with Bathsheba and arranging to have her husband Uriah killed in battle. (2 Samuel 11).

What about mercy (being released from consequences)?

Our Lord often shows great mercy, withholding consequences. An example is given in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) in which the father showed great mercy to his repentant son.


Applying consequences can serve godly purposes.


And showing mercy can also be appropriate.


Seek godly counsel when balancing mercy and consequences.

See Lesson 5 of Conflict Resolution vs. Reconciliation for a review of the godly purposes of consequences.

When should I forgive?

Since we are called to forgive as God forgave us, we first reflect on when God forgives us.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”



(Jesus, from the cross in Luke 23:34)

  • God forgives us when we confess

  • Our redemption was finished on the cross when Christ died for our forgiveness

  • Our reconciliation to God was promised to Adam and Eve in the garden

  • Even before the foundation of the world was laid, we were chosen for justification, the forgiveness of our sins

Answer all four True/False questions correctly to reveal When You Should Forgive

How can I resolve the material issues that divide us?

In reconciliation, we seek to restore the relationship by addressing the relational or personal issues of the conflict. Relational issues are reconciled through confession and forgiveness.


In conflict resolution, we address the material or substantive issues of the conflict. We identify the problems to be solved and negotiate to resolve them.

Scripture teaches what to do when we need to resolve material issues.


  • Commit your plans to __________. (Proverbs 16:1-3)

  • Be reasonable. Don’t be anxious, but ______. (Philippians 4:5-6)

  • Love your neighbor as __________. (Matthew 22:39)

  • Look not only to your own ___________, but also to the __________ of others. (Philippians 2:3-5)

  • Do everything without __________ or ____________. (Philippians 2:14)

  • Be wise – seek godly _________. (Proverbs 12:15)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:3-4

Journal Reflections

Take a moment to journal your personal reflections from this section, “Forgive as God Forgave You.”  Apply these questions to a conflict from your own life (current or past).

What grieves you the most about what has happened?

What is keeping you from forgiving the other person?

Write a prayer to God. You might include:

  • Confessing your sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, grudges, hatred, or anger that you may have in your heart.

  • Thanking Him for the forgiveness of all your sins.

  • Seeking His help to forgive as He has forgiven you.

  • Asking God to bless the person who has wronged you.

  • Praying that God reconciles your relationship with the other person.

Other Reflections:



©2018 by Ambassadors of Reconciliation.