“Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ” (Col 3:13, The Passion Translation).
Jesus forgave us on his cross when we were killing him. That is how he forgave. The Greek word forgive (charizomai/χαρίζομαι) in this verse means to graciously and generously give or forgive. In this context most translators choose the word forgive.
Another place that Paul utilizes this word is Romans 8:31-34, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us (ESV). [Bold and italics are inserted to highlight parts of the text.]
Who is our enemy? We have an accuser named Satan, but he is displaced by Jesus who is our heavenly interceder. The word graciously give (charizomai), can also be translated graciously forgive: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously (for)give us all things?”
If our chief purpose in life is to glorify Jesus, then consider that God exalted Jesus and gave him a name above every other name because of his death on a cross. (Philippines 2:8-9.) This gracious forgiveness of God (the cross) is the high point of expressing God’s heart and caused Jesus to be glorified in an even greater way. Hell is the “low point” of expressing God’s heart over the human race, i.e. hell is not Jesus’ desire for anyone. So even if there is a stark reality for those who don’t accept God, don’t make this your grid for viewing people.
God’s viewpoint is the cross of gracious forgiveness. When we conform to this, we also align with God’s heart to glorify Jesus.
I don’t think Paul chose to use charizomai (graciously forgive/graciously give us all things) randomly in Romans 8. His context is of breaking the power of accusation and conflict over our lives by the cross. God graciously giving us all things very much includes graciously forgiving us all things so that no condemnation and no enemy can win against us. Why? Because God’s cross is all-powerful in forgiveness.
Some of you may recognize charizomai is a similar word in Greek to charisma. The gifts of the Spirit. God’s cross is the most grace filled gift of the Spirit ever given. It is powerful to contend with enemies and to fight for friends. It’s unlimited forgiveness triumphs over every dark power.
Anyone can forgive someone but only the church can offer the forgiveness of God. This is our good news commission.
How am I sharing the message that “God forgives you” with others in my speech and my life? Are my social media conversations reflecting forgiveness? Do I love enemies with this kind of full throttle forgiveness? I was empowered to live from the abundant grace gift of forgiveness when I said yes to Christ. Do I live this gift from heaven?