Do you have to DO anything to receive God’s forgiveness?


We’re immersed in a pop-Christian culture that ruminates with an aversion to “works” being any part of the economy of salvation. The idea that we have to “do” anything to be forgiven and to be “saved” is falsely viewed by many as somehow taking away from or rendering deficient God’s power and sacrifice to save us. But God can do whatever He wants. And He clearly asks and requires us to do certain things.

But we forget that. We get lazy. We take the free ticket for granted, all the while forgetting there are some things we need to do to redeem it (and hold on to it!).

Here’s one of them:

“If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” – Matthew 6:14-15

So if you don’t forgive others, guess what? That’s right. No forgiveness for you!

Some people may mistake this for God being very demanding or putting conditions on His unconditional love. But that’s not the case. It’s not just some arbitrary requirement. This is how we are made. Just like how we have to open our mouths before food can fit in. We’ve got to forgive others before we can be forgiven.

So it’s worth taking a moment every day to see if there is somebody we need to forgive in our lives. It’s kind of important.

7 comments Add comment

dbond June 17, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Of course we have to do something to receive God’s forgiveness! We must ask for it, and then make a sincere statement of sorrow, and a firm resolve never to sin again. Otherwise, there is no give and take, no remorse, and no promise to make amends, it would just be expecting that no matter what you do, God will forgive you, and you don’t have to change for the better. That is the presumption of the mercy of God. This should be done through the “alter Christi”, the priest, who, is proxy for God in delivering absolution and pennance and the grace needed to not fall into these sins again. He, the priest, is the “mouthpiece” for Our Lord God.

Anna E June 20, 2011 at 6:18 am

Sharp, concise, and very clear. Especially the analogy of opening the mouth before eating. Like this!

Dean Soto June 23, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Darn you, Matt. This is a very timely post. I have a co-worker that is… well… hard to deal with and it’s very easy to complain about her – especially to other people. Thanks for the reminder that I can’t think or talk badly about her, or not forgive her when she’s wrong, and expect to have God forgive me.

Thanks, as usual. =)

TeriElizabeth June 23, 2011 at 9:14 pm

I have to agree with the commenter above…even the part where he says, “Darn you, Matt. This is a very timely post……
I even blogged about it and shared it with my FB “friends”…
Wonderful blog and always timely….even when it’s an “ouch” moment.

Thanks Matt

Matthew Warner June 23, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Thanks, all!

Teri and Dean – this is ALWAYS a timely subject for me personally and something I have to continually remind myself of. Thanks for chiming in!

Tony August 18, 2011 at 9:11 pm

As a Jew, I comment only that my ‘religion’ attests to the need to appeal to G-d for forgiveness for sins against G-d. For sins committed against one’s fellow man, no one but that aggrieved person may provide forgiveness. Indeed Maimonides gives clear details of the ‘rules’ concerning the process of repentance.
I highly recommend the book ‘The Sunflower’ by Simon Wiesenthal’ – wherein the nature and possibilities of forgiveness are thoroughly explored together with multiple commentaries from both religious and secular persons of high standing..

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