A 2021 news reports told of seventeen missionaries that had been kidnapped by a gang. The gang threatened to kill the group (including children) if their ransom demands weren’t met. Incredibly, all the missionaries were either released or escaped to freedom. On reaching safety, they sent a message to their captors: “Jesus taught us by word and by His own example that the power of forgiving love is stronger than the hate of violent force. Therefore, we extend forgiveness to you.”
Jesus made it clear that forgiveness is powerful. He said, “If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14). Later, in answering Peter, Christ told how often we should forgive: “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (18:22; see vv. 21–35). And on the cross, He demonstrated godly forgiveness when He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
Forgiveness at its fullest can be realized when both parties move toward healing and reconciliation. And while it doesn’t remove the effects of harm done or the need to be discerning in how to address painful or unhealthy relationships, it can lead to restored ones—testifying to God’s love and power. Let’s look for ways to “extend forgiveness” for His honor.