(Photo: In Touch Ministries)
Webster defines gift as "something given to show friendship, affection, support, etc." Using this definition, it seems logical to give gifts only to people we love, not to those who hurt or abuse us. Yet Scripture clearly tells us to offer one of the greatest possible gifts—forgiveness—to those who mistreat us.
To forgive means "to give up all claims to punish or exact a penalty for an offense." No strings or conditions can be attached, or else it ceases to be a pardon. Ephesians 2:8-9 expands on this by contrasting the gift of salvation with works. Neither salvation nor forgiveness can be earned; both must be freely given. God granted us forgiveness, which we did not deserve and could not earn. And in much the same way, we are to release every offender from any form of penalty.
Unforgiveness is emotional bondage that consumes minds with memories of offenses, distorts emotions with revenge, and fills hearts with churning unrest. Its tentacles reach deep into the soul, affecting both spiritual and physical health. But the one who chooses to put on love and offer forgiveness is ready to receive the peace of Christ. Let God's Word help you release hurt and anger into His caring hands—then watch as vengeful thoughts are transformed into praise and gratitude to the Lord.
Thankfully, the gift of pardon is not something we have to manufacture in ourselves. This present is wrapped in the love of God and tied with the red ribbon of Christ's sacrifice. It is freely given to us by the Savior, and our job is simply to pass it on to others.