In English the word “forgive” is defined as, “to stop feeling angry towards or blaming someone, or to stop requiring a payment for something”. This is not equal to how Scripture uses the word “Forgive.” The main meaning of the word “forgive” in Scripture is “to send away”. It can be used for a husband and wife, or not leaving anything behind; however, when it comes to sin it is specific to only God Who is the One forgiving, for sin is only against God.

And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce (send away) him. – 1 Corinthians 7:13

You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left (sent away) nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. – Hebrews 2:8

Therefore, leaving (sending away) the discussion of the elementary principles of the Christ, let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, – Hebrews 6:1

Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. – Psalms 51:4

Unlike in the Old Testament, which only offered the covering of sins (atonement), the blood of Christ forgives (sends away) our sins. And without payment for sin there is no forgiveness.

And almost all things are cleansed by blood according to the law and apart from shedding blood forgiveness does not come – Hebrews 9:22

In Him we have redemption through His blood; the forgiveness of trespasses, according to the riches of His grace – Ephesians 1:7

in whom we have redemption; the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:14

If a Christian sins, then to restore fellowship with God that sin needs to be verbally called out – literally verbally agreeing with God that the action is sin – so that it can be dealt with. When we do this, God is faithful to forgive us of the sin.

If perhaps we should confess our sins, He is faithful and just in order that He should send away our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

When it comes to our relationship with others, we are actually never told to forgive. This is very unique to the Church. But do not think that means we can hold something against another person, for we live by a higher standard. However, in other dispensations they are instructed to forgive. During the Millennial Kingdom, humans are instructed to forgive the obligations and trespasses of others so that they will be forgiven. And since restitution is required for forgiveness, it is the releasing from an obligation after compensation has been paid. Not holding it against that person after reimbursement has been received. In Matthew chapters five through seven, Jesus is giving instructions to the Jews concerning the Kingdom of the Heavens. In these instructions they are told to forgive others.

And forgive us our obligations, as also we forgive our debtors. – Matthew 6:12

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. – Matthew 6:14

As far as forgiveness of others today, we are actually instructed to be gracious towards each other. Grace is an attitude by which we give a benefit without consideration of merit. As a result of this attitude, we can stop feeling angry towards or demanding payment from a person who has wronged us.

bearing one another and being gracious to yourselves. If anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ was gracious to you, thus also you – Colossians 3:13

And be kind to one another, compassionate, being gracious to yourselves, just as also God in Christ was gracious to you. – Ephesians 4:32

Let us properly understand the concept of forgiveness and apply it correctly within our lives. God forgave us of our sins because Christ paid the debt on the cross. Forgiveness is not something given without payment. We are not instructed to forgive anyone; however, we are commanded to love one another and therefore a manifestation of that love will be an attitude by which we give other saints a benefit without consideration of merit, which will result in releasing our anger against them for wronging us. This is an important attitude to have because we do not want to give Satan an advantage over us because we are not being gracious towards other saints.

Now whom you are gracious concerning anything, I also. For if indeed I have been gracious concerning anything, I have been gracious because of you in the presence of Christ, in order that we should not be taken advantage of by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his working of the mind. – 2 Corinthians 2:10, 11

Often the term “forgiveness” is used very loosely. We are encouraged to forgive others by pastors and speakers. Although often it is not out of love that they encourage this because it is about the person – that is, you forgive so it does not impact you. And this has to be done without restitution, which means forgiveness is being given without payment and this is not how forgiveness works. Rather, what we should be doing is being gracious towards others. Not because they deserve it, but because of who we are in Christ and the fact that God, in Christ, was gracious to us. This act of grace will be a result of loving them, which shows we are truly loving God. And let us not take this lightly, for someone wronging us can be very painful in many different ways. Forgiveness is not ours to give, that is something they need to deal with God about. However, we can be gracious towards others and release our anger, resentment, and pain without allowing them into a position to again harm us, so that we do not carry the burden of their actions or cause undue stress to those who truly are remorseful for their behavior and have repented. And that is not saying “sorry”, but a true change of the mind that results in actions to correct, if possible, the wrong and never do anything like that to anyone again.

Why are we not told to forgive? We, of the Church, have a higher standard by which we live. We live by grace, out from faith. The grace of God brought us the sending away of our sins, not just covering them up. By being gracious towards others we can also give them a benefit, not based upon their actions but because we are manifesting who we are in Christ and therefore graciously deal with being wronged by them. Therefore, we can release them from their debt without demanding restitution, just as God did for us in Christ.