Martin Luther said, “Forgiveness is God’s command.” Though we may agree that forgiveness is a central principle of Christianity, we also often struggle to practice it. Many of us resist forgiving those who have hurt us.
Why must we forgive? Why must we be forgiven? We’ll examine the biblical answers to those questions in our study this month, in which we’ll learn that forgiveness is a gift we receive and a gift we offer.
In today’s passage, the people of Israel were asked whether they would choose to serve God or the other gods that they have allowed into their homes. As they had made their way from Egypt into the Promised Land, they had grown increasingly tolerant of foreign gods and practices. Joshua urged them to reject the false gods from Egypt and Arabia that they had accumulated and make a choice about which deity they would trust: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. . . . But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (v. 15).
The people seemed shocked and even offended by Joshua’s suggestion. Of course they will serve God! But Joshua reminded them of God’s character. They serve a God who will not tolerate partial allegiance. He is both “holy” and “jealous” (v. 19). In His holiness, God will not tolerate disobedience, and Joshua warned the people that God would not forgive their rebellion (v. 19). In this context, the word forgive means to “bear with” or “live with.” God would not allow sin to continue unchecked.
God will not ignore our choice to rebel against Him. When we sin against a holy and just God, we are in desperate need of forgiveness. But He offers us the invitation to choose to follow Him.
On this Easter Sunday, confess your sins to God. We have been given an amazing gift: the forgiveness of sin! The celebration of Jesus’ resurrection is the perfect time to begin a study on the forgiveness offered to us through His death and resurrection. Rejoice that we have a Savior who forgives our sins and guarantees for us eternal salvation.