Forgiveness

In closing:

If Christ forgives us for sins, we are told to forgive others so we can be forgiven. Shouldn’t we forgive others when they do wrong against us? So let’s forgive each other while we still have the chance because we are never promised tomorrow! You have the power to choose to forgive. Forgiveness gives you the power to be free. Plus you will feel a weight lifted off when you forgive someone else. One other thing as I close, not only do we need to forgive others, but we must forgive ourselves too. Too often we forget to forgive ourselves. Christ on the Cross even said, “Father Forgive Them For They Know Not What They Do.” So we should have the same mind set. Forgive others including ourselves. Remember, Sin blinds us.

A quote from Martin Luther King Jr. “Forgiveness is God’s Command.”  I couldn’t have summed it up no easier than that.

Check out this video, You, Sin & Christ, A Simple Illustration. It can show us how the blood of Christ can cleanse us clean.

Forgiveness is God’s Command. #Forgivness Click To Tweet

If you have done wrong against a fellow person, make it right today! If someone has wronged you, forgive them!

I like what Pastor Jimmy Inman said from True Life Church. It was reshared recently on Facebook:

The sermon notes and questions listed below are from a sermon Jimmy Inman gave on forgiveness several years ago. (Once that audio is available, I will add it) He wanted this posted as a follow up to September 22, 2019 Sunday’s sermon on Anger and Forgiveness.

You Made Bro, True Life Church, 9/22/19 Jimmy Innman

“The Freedom Of Forgiveness”
Matthew 18:21-35

Introduction: Each of us has been hurt by others at various times in our lives. Some of us have been wounded greatly. Also, we have conflict and relational difficulties that need to be reconciled. How do we often respond to those types of situations? Three common methods are: (1) freeze out (the silent treatment), (2) blow up (have a temper tantrum), (3) play games (act like everything is ok when inside we are seething). How should we respond? God wants us to respond by taking responsibility and going to the person to work things out in the right way (Matthew 5:23-24, 18:15ff.). He tells us to forgive those who wrong us. Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Synopsis of the Parable: There are three men involved: a king and two servants. The first servant owed the king an unpayable debt that would be equivalent to roughly 9 billion dollars today. The king was compassionate towards him and forgave him the debt. The second servant owed him a comparatively small amount equivalent to approximately $15,000 dollars today. In other words, the first servant’s debt was 600,000 times greater. However, he did not forgive the second servant like the king forgave him but had his fellow servant thrown into prison. This made the king very angry, and he had the first servant punished. The point is that God has forgiven us of an unpayable debt so we have no grounds for unforgiveness, but we are to freely forgive others.

The Definition of Forgiveness: Charles Stanley captures the essence of this passage when he defines forgiveness as

“an injury, a debt resulting from the injury, and the cancellation of the debt.” Ultimately, forgiveness is the choice to no longer hold another person’s wrong and hurtful actions against him or her.

Charles Stanley

The Command To Forgive: Jesus told Peter in v. 22 that we are to forgive and keep on forgiving (Colossians 3:13).

The Basis For Us Forgiving Others: We are to forgive others because God paid the ultimate price of the sacrifice of His dear Son to be able to forgive us. No one has wronged us as much as we have wronged God. God has been gracious to us, and we are to be gracious to others.

The Nature of Forgiveness: It is:

  • A Conscious choice
  • An act of obedience to God
  • To be unlimited
  • A blessing to both parties
  • An act that sets us free
  • An act of mercy
  • Expressed to the other party
  • Costly
  • The Nature of Unforgiveness: It is:
  • Something that hurts both parties
  • An act of hard-heartedness
  • Ultimately more costly than forgiveness
  • An act that means we are acting like God has not forgiven us
  • Something that hinders our fellowship with God
  • Something that puts us in bondage
  • Suggested Process For Forgiving
  • Ask God to reveal to us anyone that we need to forgive.
  • Realize it is a choice and accept our responsibility to forgive and attempt to work out relationships.
  • Make a decision to release the debt and forgive.
  • Work through feelings and emotions.
  • Ask for God’s grace and the empowering of the Holy Spirit to enable us to forgive.
  • Go to the person and extend forgiveness to him or her.
  • Ask God’s forgiveness and the other persons if needed for wrong attitudes or retaliatory actions.
  • Meditate on the cross and God’s incredible forgiveness that he offers through Christ.
  • Stop rationalizing a lack of forgiveness.
  • Repeat the process as needed.

Discussion Questions:

1. How do you usually deal with it when someone wounds you?

2. Is it a sin to live in unforgiveness?

3. What are some common misconceptions about unforgiveness?

4. How can those of us who have been forgiven through the sacrifice of Christ not forgive others?

5. Who do you and I need to forgive right now?

6. What practical steps do we need to take in order to forgive and try to reconcile?

The following are attempts at answers to the questions that were sent to me in response to me asking on Facebook about people’s questions and struggles regarding forgiveness. I preached on this subject yesterday at True Life. It will be on our web page (thetruelifechurch.com, Listen Online section, Building Blocks of Healthy Relationships series) some time the early part of this week. Forgiveness happens when there is an injury or wrong, a debt resulting from the injury, and we choose to cancel the debt. It is deciding to not hold what was done against the person any more. I will attempt to make practical application of this principal in answering these questions. In attempting to answer them, however, I fully recognize that questions about forgiveness are generally born out of difficult situations and general answers may be insufficient for particular situations. One other thing to remember in regard to forgiveness is that one person can choose to forgive, but it takes two people working together to reconcile a relationship.

1. Where does discernment factor into the relationship and what do we do when it is ongoing with someone vindictive? These are two different questions from two different people, but I think they fit together. I think that one of the tougher situations in which to forgive is when the person keeps doing the thing that is hurting us. Up front, we obviously need to be discerning before getting into various types of relationships, but we can certainly be fooled. If it is a relationship that we do not have to be in or that we can righteously depart from, at some point we may have to exit the relationship or at the least, set up some boundaries. Being a forgiving person does not mean being other people’s piñata or doormat. If someone is hurting us, we need to lovingly but firmly confront that person. In some cases, a third party will be needed to help in working through the difficulties.

2. Does reconciliation always have to happen for there to be forgiveness? You cannot have reconciliation without forgiveness, but you can have forgiveness without reconciliation. It takes one to forgive but two to reconcile. We can choose to forgive the other person independent of what they do, but both parties must be willing to make things right and work on things for there to be reconciliation. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” We are responsible for what we do, and the other person is responsible for her actions. In most cases, the goal should be reconciliation, but if we forgive and try to reconcile the relationship, we are not guilty if the other party is unwilling to do what is necessary for healing and reconciliation to transpire. There are some cases in which reconciliation is not possible or wise. Examples would include forgiving someone who is no longer alive, forgiving someone that you no longer have any contact with and cannot locate, someone who has committed a crime against you (in some cases, at least), someone who is not safe to be around, someone who will not be honest, and in some cases, when someone will not stop the behavior causing the problem.

3. What about offenses where another person may not realize they had caused an injury or hurt? God’s command to forgive is still the same. As far as dealing with it practically, I think we have to decide if this is something we can deal with inside of ourselves, between us and the Lord, and get over it. If we cannot do that, we need to talk to the other person about it and let them know that they hurt us, we have forgiven them, but we needed to talk about it in order to move on in the relationship.

4. How do forgiveness and grief go together? They are somewhat connected and somewhat separate at the same time. They are connected in the sense that grief is a natural, and often unavoidable, response to being hurt and wronged. They are separate in the sense that forgiveness is a choice that is a willful response to a wrong while grief is the feelings and emotions related to the offense. They are also connected in the sense that the way to ultimately change our feelings is by choosing to forgive and letting go of the anger. This is a certainly a process. We may have to reiterate the choice to forgive many times. We can choose to forgive regardless of how we feel.

5. How do you ever get over the trust issue? How do you forgive completely and not be leery of the future intentions of the person? I feel that I may not be forgiving completely if I am still remembering the deed and waiting for it to happen again? Forgiveness is unconditional while trust is conditional. Forgiveness is graciously granted while trust should be earned. You can choose in a moment to forgive someone, but it will take time, work, and counseling in some cases for trust to be restored. Forgiveness is about the past, but trust is about the future. Remember that forgiveness is not holding what the person did against them any more so we must try to put what they did behind us and not just be waiting for it to happen again. However, it is wise to evaluate how much we can trust them going forward. Some factors to consider include:
-Was the wrongdoing confessed or discovered?
-Is it a pattern or an unusual occurrence?
-Is he open and honest?
-Does she give evidence of taking steps to make changes?
-Does he seem genuinely grieved about hurting me?

6. When I forgive, then remember again at a later time, with pain, the offense, does it mean that I have not forgiven? I would say that it means you are human. When that happens, we need to repeat the steps we took when originally forgiving the person, other than there is not a need to talk to the person again. There could be cases where it means that we have not really forgiven, but I think it is usually the process of dealing with our emotions. With some things, we may have to reaffirm our decision to leave it in the past several times.

7. When you forgive someone of a wrong, are they supposed to act like it never happened and you have no right to be upset any longer, no consequences? This is a difficult question because someone could seek to manipulate and take advantage of our graciousness in forgiving. That ends up pertaining to the trust issue instead of the forgiveness issue though. Remember that when we forgive we are taking them off of our hook and canceling the debt they owe us. We can’t really be forgiving and demanding consequences at the same time.

8. Why do other people want to be forgiven but they don’t want to forgive you if you do the slightest thing to them? How do you handle that situation? It is sinful human nature to act in that manner. I would refer back to question #1 for the answer to this question. This is not really an issue about us forgiving, but a situation where we will need to speak the truth in love to them. We certainly should not base whether or not we forgive or how we treat others on how they act.

Introduction | What is forgiveness? | Definition of forgive (Part 1)
Christ forgave us | East to West Sea of Forgetfulness (Part 2)
Christian Songs about Forgiveness | Do good to others & forgive (Part 3)
Confess Sins | Forgiveness helps our relationships (Part 4)
Closing | Freedom of Forgiveness (Part 5)

Footnotes:

  • Mark 11:25-26
  • Matthew 6:14-15
  • Luke 6:35-38
  • Ephesians 4:32
  • Colossians 3:13
  • Matthew 5:44-45
  • Romans 12:20
  • Luke 6:35-38
  • Proverbs 20:22
  • 1 John 1:9
  • Matthew 18:35
  • Psalm 103:12
  • The Bible Promise Book, page 50-51, ISBN 978-1-55748-105-4
  • Answers to What Would Jesus Do? WWJD?, page 16-17, ISBN 1-56292-462-1
  • The Love Dare, Day 25: Love Forgives, ISBN 978-0-80544-885-6
  • Dictionary.com
  • BibleGateway.com
  • The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry
  • October Baby
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote
  • Other 2 Quotes are unknown
  • Johnny Hunt’s Men’s Conference 2015
  • Jimmy Innman Sermon Notes on Forgiveness from True Life Church

Originally posted May 16, 2013. Last updated or republished September 25, 2019.

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20 Comments

  1. ariellamillerblog

    Thank for the beautiful blog. I love what you are writing about our sins, who were cast as far as the East is from the West.

  2. Kristi Miller

    Very thorough guidance, Steve. I like that you mention relationships are helped by our forgiveness. There was a course I used to teach and we did a simple exercise where we’d have people quickly write down the five most important people in their lives and then after that, circle the ones they’ve had conflict with. Of course, in just about all cases every name is circled and it is because of forgiveness and the forging of a stronger relationship and understanding with one another. This is a great step towards learning to love and forgive more like Christ. Thank you!

  3. abbymcd7

    “Forgiveness is the F bomb we don’t hear dropped enough.” Love that and so true. I think what people often don’t realize is how much forgiveness truly frees us. We are free from the bitterness that holding grudges creates. Thanks so much for sharing this. Great truths here.

  4. Walter Kahler

    So much good information here Steve. Forgiveness, confession and repentance are keys in living godly. As we move forward this week and proclaim Christ as our redeemer on Easter Sunday leaves no excuse for forgiving others. Have a great Easter Steve.

  5. ChristianBlogR

    abbymcd7 I heard that quote on Air1 one day in 2013. I had to add it to the post after I heard it. This was on my heart so I republished this post. It does set us free and people don’t see that. It is weight lifted up. You are welcome for me sharing and thanks for the comment. God Bless.

  6. ChristianBlogR

    Kristi Miller Yeap they are, two people forgiving each others past and present and future. That’s a true relationship like the one we have with Christ. Nice idea on that. Yes forgiveness is a step toward love, a love like Christ loved. Thanks for the comment Kristi. God Bless. I hope you and the family are feeling better.

  7. msanders0761

    Oh, wow. Such good resources here. You have thoroughly covered the topic of forgiveness, something many have difficulty doing. You are so right, sin binds us. Forgiveness sets us free and represents true obedience to our Father. During the Holy Week I remember the ultimately sacrifice He made for us. In spite of the way He was treated while on earth. He forgave us. We must forgive others.

  8. ChristianBlogR

    msanders0761 Thanks Yeap it is comprehensive. I done research and kept adding to this post as something new came. Since this was on my heart, I figured it was best to do more edits and clean it up some and republishing it for others to see too. Yes, forgiveness does set us free and God is the founder of forgiveness. That is why He sent us His Son to die for us to truly set us free. Yes, that was the ultimate sacrifice. I done a blog post about the Ultimate Super Hero and taught it to the Middle School Youth. Yes we must forgive others. It is very important. Thanks for the comment.

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