“Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”
The next characteristic that demonstrates social virtue is “forgiving one another.” This forgiveness is the seventh garment with which the Christian is to clothe themselves.
Forgiveness means to bestow favor unconditionally. Ephesians 4:32 and Colossians 2:13; 3:13 uses this term for divine forgiveness. Luke 7:42, 43, 2 Corinthians 2:7, 10, 12:13, and Ephesians 4:32 use it for human forgiveness. “Forgive” means to give graciously, unconditionally, without strings. Thus, to forgive is to show grace to someone.
The mature believer forgives based on his own forgiveness. God forgave us at the point of salvation, and we are also in the process of being forgiven. So when we forgive, it is not forgiveness based on strain. “I am not going to hit this guy in the nose; I am not, I am not!” That is a strain. There is no strain when we forgive others on the basis of grace because we realize how much God forgave us (Eph 4:32).
Biblical forgiveness is a pardon that rests on one’s generous attitude toward others (2 Cor 12:13). It carries the idea of goodwill on the giver’s part — to give, grant, or bestow generously (Gal. 3:18; Rom. 8:32).
“One another” is a reciprocal pronoun. It also carries the idea of one another of the same kind (i.e., Christians) as did the previous phrase “bearing with one another.” We perform this gracious act in the interest of another believer. This exchange has to do with grace toward the household of faith. There is Christian mutuality in the biblical idea of forgiveness.
The ability to forgive is God-given.
One of the most challenging things a Christian is called upon to do is to forgive other Christians freely and unconditionally. The more we understand God’s grace toward us, the better we will be able to forgive without strings. Most of us forgive with the attitude, “I’ll forgive you if…” Biblical forgiveness is not penalizing others for what they have done to us.