When you make a decision to give your heart and your life to Christ, you become a new creature.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
~2 Corinthians 5:12

What a beautiful verse! Imagine becoming a new person: everything in your old life is washed away and you start a new life. This beautiful gift of grace that our Lord gives us is so instrumental in our walk of faith. I personally get things wrong a few dozen times a day. Each time all I do is go and fellowship with my Father in heaven, repent and ask for His help in turning away from my sin or mistakes, and it’s gone! That beautiful intimacy with the Lord, knowing that you can come to Him in any state, at any time, and He is ready to forgive – once you are willing to repent – is such a foundational part of our salvation.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us
from all unrighteousness
~1 John 1:19

His Holy Spirit always welcomes us with open arms, and that eternal forgiveness was purchased on the cross by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance
with the riches of God’s grace
~Ephesians 1:7

There’s more to it however. As with anything else in our walk with Christ, once we receive God’s gifts and graces, we are expected to extend them lovingly to everyone around us. The unfortunate tendency with human nature is to focus on other people’s mistakes and to point that condemning finger, especially when we are directly affected by someone’s shortcomings. You’re getting tired of someone’s lies, someone’s rudeness, someone’s personal attacks, someone’s criticisms… or maybe someone even murdered your loved one. The Lord is very clear on this topic: He wants us to forgive them just as He has forgiven us.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my
brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
~Matthew 18:21-22

The flip-side is also true. Surely all of us have had times when our behavior negatively affects people, and they just can’t take it so they get offended and maybe even start persecuting us. No matter how harshly they react to our behavior we must have the attitude that Christ had on the cross:

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
~Luke 23:34

In both cases the best course of action is always to pray. We should always default to going to God with every situation in our lives. Forgiving others is so important that Jesus goes as far as to say if we don’t forgive others, our Father in heaven will not forgive us. If you’re on your way to worship the Lord in church and you remember that someone has something against you, Jesus encourages us to go and make things right with that person first then go and offer your sacrifice of praise. Keeping offenses shifts our focus from hearing what God is saying to hearing why the enemy thinks you should not let the offense go.

Our ultimate goal in our walk with Christ can be summarized in this key phrase by John the Baptist:

He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
~John 3:30

Forgiveness is such a beautiful gift from the Lord, one that is sorely needed in today’s society that we completely embraced it as the theme for Beautiful Things 2018.