The Call of Forgiveness

 

Matthew 18:21-35  page_______ in the pew bible tells us, 

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times-seven. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “The servant fell on his knees before him. `Be patient with me,’ he begged, `and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. `Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, `Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. `You wicked servant,’ he said, `I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’  In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”  

The Call of Forgiveness, is just that; a call directly from our Lord. It requires maturity, patience and tact. Forgiveness is also a mandate from our Lord.

Illustration  

As a human being we are prone to make mistakes, either intentional or unintentional. We all have hurt people or we have been hurt; we are all in the same boat, so when we refuse to forgive each other is like escaping the disaster and sinking of the Titanic in a lifeboat only to poke holes in the vary lifeboat that saved us. Our escape form the sinking ship is our redemption that we did not deserve, and every one else in the lifeboat needs the cross too, so why try to sink each other, if all you will accomplish is to sink yourself. 

Out of these mistakes comes the hurt and resentment, and it is the call of the Christian to dispel these conflicts in order to be in Christ with growth, integrity, and maturity. We may suffer the betrayal from friends, parents, coworkers, and even church members. And we are still called to forgive anyway! Why? Because we need it! Because we are imperfect and fallen and full of sin. Even the Christian who is saved by grace is still in process of growth and sanctification, thus is still imperfect, no matter what the level of maturity. Because God has forgiven us. Because if we do not the resentment will build and build like battery acid that slowly eats away your car, until it self-destructs us, unless we fix it. Even psychologist tells us that resentment is the most powerful self-destructive emotion in our arsenal. 

          God desires us to seek forgiveness; because God is a God of relationships and committed to relationships.  God knows our human weakness, and are self-destructive nature, and that our relationships tend to be fragile.  Broken relationships come out of our sin nature, and our fallen world, which seeks its self over one another.  God’s desire is to show the world our potential, because what Christ has done for us, that we should not take pleasure in destructive situations, that is dividing and drawing relationships apart.  Because relationships are what life is all about.  Satan’s desire is to destroy relationships as he first attempted in the Garden of Eden, and nearly defeated our relationship with God and each other. God’s plan is to prove Satan wrong, and our call is to build each other up and not destroy each other. 

          When we have been wronged, we each have feelings of betrayal, and feel justified in retaliation.  God calls us out of retaliation and into reconciliation.  When we fail to forgive, we ourselves suffer the most.  Because anger, resentment, shame, bitterness, contemptment, and defensives all synergistically builds on top of one another, so every segment with in us is held hostage with these emotions.

Thus we are chained like a dog on a leash, unable to reach the destination we desire, and what Christ has for us. 

Do not allow the bitterness to continue so that it festers, and corrupts our whole being.  The bitterness must not take hold of our lives, or it well blocks out the flow of the Holy Sprit and the self-control of love. Or the festering will continue to the point that Christ is crying out to us in the wilderness; yet we do not here Him. 

          Our Lord is alerting us to the perils of un-forgiveness, as the call of red alert in the TV show “Star Trek” warns its crew of impending danger.  If we do not head the warning our emotions will run away from ourselves, and we will no longer have control or composure of who we are to Christ. Thus, the anger no longer belongs to us, because it has been given over to Satan and our uncontrolled emotions. The red alert has been ignored and our ship has been destroyed! 

          This passage is a story of a forgiving king and a wicked servant.  The king forgave this servants enormous debt, which is a parallel to our enormous debt of sin that we have held until Christ forgave us.  This servant represents the believer who after the forgiveness of God only to go and harbor bitterness’ to one another, and then refuses to forgive their fellow Christian or non-Christian for the much, much smaller debt. So the king became ferrous and handed over the servant to be tortured. The Bible is telling us if we refuse to forgive each other, and harbor bitterness we can be tortured too. My personal experience is when and I have refused to forgive people in the past I become consumed with feelings of guilt and shame, and this is the torture I can do without.  I feel much better, and sleep much better with the attitude of forgiveness, I cannot think well and sleep well with the attitude of bitterness. Why would the Christian want to go through life with feelings of bitterness, that consume us with misery and unrest, instead of giving it to the Lord, with forgiveness and rest.  

How can we go through our Christian life and experience and rationalize our actions and deeds only to face our Lord latter on in judgment! By what point are we to make, by what feeling are we to base, by what hope do we have? 

          When we have the knowledge of God’s mercy, then we have the responsibility of acting on mercy with each other. 

God calls us Christians to operate in the parameters of forgiveness, love, and mercy.  And when we haven’t been forgiving we will have a heart filled with suffering and torment.  How can we receive Christ’s forgiveness and claim Christ as our savior when we are unable to forgive each other?  When we have a forgiving attitude, then we will have the heart at rest and in peace! 

So What does Forgiveness Looks Like 

          Taking our primary lead from Matthew 18 and various other scripture’s, we can see what God requires of us, and our response regarding the different categories of forgiveness. 

          Ephesians 4:29-32 tells us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” 

          We as Christians must extend ourselves to other people with love and what flows out of love is forgiveness.

John 13:34-35 Tells us  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

This should be clear to us.  A healthy Christian is one who puts aside the malicious traits of our evil sin nature.  Instead the Christian will model kindness, love, caring, compassion and out of these flow forgiveness. 

 God wants us to get with it, to wake up and seize the opportunities He gives us.  

Ask yourself this question; how do I handle forgiveness?  How do you respond when others forgive you?  What do you  do with opportunities that our Lord has for you?  We must realize the generosity of grace, and being in Christ, that we do not deserve.  Our Lord does not want us to forgive begrudgingly, because He did not forgive us with conditions and strings attached.

A Christian that does not forgive it’s like a small child who refuses to share a game ball that they received as a gift. Thus the child will not be able to play with that ball as it is designed too. That child will not be using the ball to its full ability. When the Christian does not forgive, it distorts the relationships we have, like the child not able to play a game because they refuse to share the ball, so they cry that they are alone and nobody plays with them, or they cry because they are not having fun. 

And without forgiveness we are unable to play our games, as being in relationships with others. We just end up cheating ourselves out of our potential, and the best plan that Christ has for us. 

First: Forgiveness is Hard 

          Isaiah tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” {Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV} 

True forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do in the human experience, and is still true to the mature Christian, yet this is our mandate and call. Forgiveness is hard because it demands a surrender of our rights to get even. Forgiveness even demands suffering form the person who was wronged and was the victim, were the suffering from our human perspective and reasoning should belong to the instigator of the wrong. 

Forgiveness is hard because we can easily avoid it, we can walk the other way with revenge and be just in the eyes of our friends and relatives, and especially society. We can receive some kind of medal for coming up with a good scheme of revenge. 

As a youth I loved the comic book ‘The Punisher”, were the supper hero was a victim of a severe crime, and his wife and kids were inadvertently killed by the mob. So he makes it a life crusade to get revenge on all criminal who get away from the law. This is appealing; the criminals deserve the Punishers revenge, sense the law was unable to deal with them because of bribes, cut backs, and apathy. This appeals to our human nature, but God does not want us to rely on our human nature, rather to rely on Him. 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”

This is telling us that our way of thinking is wrong. If God is the creator of all things including truth, and He is all knowing, and He is all-powerful; then, His ways are better than ours. We may not be able to recognize it, because our perspective is limited as is our knowledge and insight. 

God is governed by righteousness… were desires and emotions drive us… God has a moral and virtuous purpose… and our purpose is self-seeking. God’s primary purpose in our lives is to bring us out of our self-destructive and self-seeking nature into the reclamation to Himself… This is the work of Christ. God’s thoughts are beyond our comprehension and imagination, therefore we should rely on Him, and not on ourselves. 

Second: Forgiveness is Complete 

Colossians tells us,  “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” {Colossians 3:12-14 NIV} 

Matthew 18:27 “The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.” Forgiveness is actually canceling a debt. Just as someone owes you a $1000 dollars, and he or she can not pay you back, and you forgive the debt, so you do not expect to receive the money ever again. So the amount that is owed to us is no longer owed or expected. And we give up our right to seek the repayment of that debt. Forgiveness is bankruptcy, once filed the creditor may not retrieve the debt, and it is wiped out. We need to see the cancellation of the debt as a right-off and not some form of embezzlement. When we forgive we forget, that is we are to no longer even have the desire for restitution or pay back or punishment. 

A man at a church I was on staff at forgave an instance that I admire greatly, because I do not think I could ever do; yet with Christ I should, because all things are possible. His wife was murdered indiscriminately, by a drive by shooting in the Pasadena area just over a year ago;she died in his arms. He realized for him to go on with his life and faith he needed to forgive that person, and he did. 

Now he did not say to the police to let him go, forgiveness is not necessarily a release of the obligation, especially when a crime is committed. Rather we as a Christian is released form our personal desire for retribution. 

This form of forgiveness even prevents us from the pilot sly remarks and glances, our revenge is repudiated… Divorced from our desire to get even. 

Forgiveness is so rare in our society, that it becomes such a powerful witnessing tool, it must be complete. Forgiveness does not make light of the wrong nor should it give a license for others to take advantage, but they may. Out of the completeness of forgiveness will come the forgetting. If we just try to forget and agonize over it then we will get nowhere, but through the process of surrender will come the forgetting. Forgetting is a process and we can not expect it to come off the start, be patient and let the process unfold and embrace the forgiveness that Christ has given us. 

Third: Forgiveness is Costly         

          Luke tells us, “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” {Luke 6:27-31 NIV} 

          When we forgive it may incur a cost to us, and we should realize and welcome it. This goes against our inclination and will, but remember the vengeance belongs to the Lord. When we forgive we will be refocusing our plan into God’s plan and God’s ways. 

We need not to base it on our feelings and desires, but to focus what forgiveness is, as Christ gave us, as He was our example. John 3:16 is the example on what forgiveness cost our Lord.  His undeserved painful death and separation from the Father was a substitution for what we deserved. This was our Lord’s suffering and cost.

 For us the cost will be minimal in comparison, and we need to keep this in view as our strength to get through it. Our cost is to live with the consequence of the evil that was brought on us. We then take the responsibility of the hurt brought on to us. 

Understanding this is hard even for the mature Christian, and virtually impossible for the non-Christian, sense it goes against the common sense of society; because the suffering should be on the one who did the wrong. Yet this is a beacon of witness to the supremacy of Christ. 

This form of suffering we can normally avoid, but are called not to. We need to accept the consequence of the wrong, such as the parent forgives their child for breaking a priceless object. The parent bears the cost to replace it or suffer without it, and the child gets off free, {well with some sort of punishment}, this is the cost of suffering. For the case of the man who lost his wife to murder, his suffering is not being with his wife any more. Forgiveness chooses to suffer, it is vary hard to make the volunteer choice that we do take on the suffering, even when we do not deserve it; yet we must make it to grow in our walk with our Lord, to grow in our full potential. 

          Humanity owes a great deal to the creator of the universe, and our willful disobedience to our creator is a slap in His face. A debt we could never conceive or pay. Yet most people live there life as an insult to what Christ has done, and Christ still pursues with the ultimate love. Christ did not owe our debt, yet He paid it!

Christ was our substitute for our deserving punishment, so is forgiveness. Forgiveness is substitutional too, sense it requires a penalty to be paid, and the victim pays that penalty, a pail reflection to what Christ has done for us! We may not understand the mystery behind this, but we can trust in our Lord who will carry us through it. The relation of what Christ went through for us to be forgiven, and the call for us to take on the responsibility of the sin even though we did not do the sin, will give us a deeper understanding into the character and nature of God.

From this we should mature to a deeper level and be used in a greater way to further the cause of Christ. The result is that we responded the evil for good, and take on the evil to ourselves. The result is Satan is defeated from the prize and his reward.

 This is why the cost brought on our Lord is the greatest cost of all. And we need to realize this and respond accordingly to one another.          

Closing Illustration

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”–and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, your righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!” {Psalm 32 NIV}

 Sermon PII 

Fourth: Forgiveness pursues 

Hosea tells us, “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.”{Hosea 2:14-15 NIV}

There is possibly nothing greater and dramatic to us, in regards to God’s character as a Christian, then His capacity to forgive! The Christian has the obligation to actually pursue forgiveness. Forgiveness will end the vicious cycle of revenge and pay back. We may thing it is not worth it, but God says otherwise. We may think it is unfair, but was it fair for our Lord to go to the cross. This may go against our pride, but this is what we are called to do. God expects us to woe the forgiveness from the person we offend or the person who offends us. That is we are to offer it freely as I tried to with that Elder I offended, even when we are not in the wrong. And out of our pursuit of forgiveness well be better relationships and reconciliation.

          The typical response form society is “I could care less” or “up yours”, these are expressions of hurt, even though they verbally say otherwise. Because they do not see the cost that the Lord paid for them, so they are unwilling to respond to the gift of grace. Christ pursues them, and all they have to do is respond to His call. To the world their desire is to tell the person off and seek their revenge, and to see this watch the daytime talk shows. 

Fifth: Forgiveness is Continual 

          Luke tells us, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, `I repent,’ forgive him.” {Luke 17:3b-4 NIV} 

 For the Hebrew 70 times 7 means infinity not 490 because this has a limit. There is no point to Christ for our accumulation of sins becomes unforgivable. So our response is to forgive others, as there is no cap or limit on our exception to forgive. Neither the intensity nor the number of wrongs should have an impact on us as followers of Christ. If we were to place a limit, then our effect of building relationships would have a chain attached to it, and with a limit you can not grow. We must have the realization and capacity and understanding on how much we have been forgiven by Christ in order to forgive each other; this is crucial to the Christian experience. 

          God’s forgiveness is not some cheep markdown or bargain, His cost was immeasurable. Paul in Colossians 3:13 tells us to forgive freely, as Christ has forgiven us. We must be willing to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. That we are to bear the cost just as our Lord did, forgiveness demands a substitution. So how could we ever back away from forgiving each other, if we do it is a bigger insult to our Lord than for the non-Christian to turn there backs on His grace; because we know better. Knowledge brings responsibility. 

Sixth: What Forgiveness is Not 

II Timothy tells us, “Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.” {2 Timothy 4:14-15 NIV} 

We know why we must forgive, so the question is, what must we forgive. I do not believe we need to forgive trivialities. Because forgiveness is not trivial its cost is high. So the things like typos and minor mistakes should not call us to forgive. And the person who was offended by an honest mistake, such as there name being misspelled in the church bulletin should not expect forgiveness, because it was a honest un-purposed mistake with no malice intent.

Forgiveness does not minimize the offense. The offense does not need to be accepted, only the person who committed the offense we are to embrace. Forgiveness is not the approval of the wrong; it only offers the grace of love rather than vengeance. Forgiveness will not bring us to a level of trust, that we have had before. Such as if a spouse cheats on you, we are called to forgive and reconcile, but that trust will be eroded, and will take time to rebuild. Just forgiving the offender will not bring instant restitution of the relationship; perhaps the relationship will be severed completely. Such as a business partner who embezzles and causing you to lose the business, we are to forgive that person as we previously disused, but this does not mean we will reenter a business relationship with that person again.  Forgiveness is directed to people not causes or institutions. Forgiveness will not erase the past. As that man who lost his wife, she will not be brought back to life; he will suffer greatly in her absence until they meet again in heaven. We are to forget the past so the resentment will not build up, but we need to realize the event will not be undone. 

“Not just human fairness but excusing those things that could not be excused” {C.S. Lewis} 

When we do not forgive we will walk a path of self distraction, brought on by the build up of resentment, and the unfulfilling nature of revenge. Nothing will wither our soul more than storing up this disease of unforgiveness. Because pride and arrogance will take over you, control you, and ruin you. The Chinese proverb says, first before seeking revenge you must dig two graves. The cost and pain of forgiveness even though we may be the victims of it, will be far easier, than the path of not seeking the forgiveness. Job 5:2 tells us, “Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple” And the goal of forgiveness is allowing Christ to transform us to our full potential. Because we may go through bad stuff in life that is not a personal attract but rather a strengthening of our character for us to be better used by our Lord. Because Christ has defeated Satan, so the sins we incur or observed are turned around to His glory. Forgiveness will refocus God’s plan into our plan. So our sufferings will not be in vain, but can be turned around to further the kingdom of God. Then the joy and happiness of who we are to Christ will bubble over the pain and hurt. 

Romans tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? 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, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:  “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” {Romans 8:28-39 NIV} 

          When you feel compassion to the person who wronged you, then you can be assured you did truly forgive them. Let these Scriptures impact and change you to the core of your being, and let the power of prayer be your focus and the scripture your heartbeat.  Because our standard is not the worlds, but is God’s. We would not want to go through life in misery and bitterness with great memories of who wronged us, harboring grudges and unhappiness. This is not the plan that Christ has for us! Bitter people have no impact for the kingdom of God except division and distraction. And have the tenacity and drive to show everyone the hurts and wrongs they suffered, do not let this happen to you, or the people around you. Take you lead form this verse and not your inclinations, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” {1 Peter 2:23-24 NIV}

          God does not ask us to minimize the wrong, but He does call us to forgive the person. That we are not to repay the evil for evil, rather evil for good; just as our lord did for us. 

The Biblical Steps for Forgiveness 

          Now that we discussed the why and what of forgiveness, we now need a practical way to apply it to our lives. Remember we need to have the biblical mandates in mind, and be willing to surrender our desires of revenge and storage of the wrongs for future bitterness. 

First: Know what Christ did for You         

Romans tells us, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. {Romans 3:22-24 NIV} 

          For us to grasp the idea and call of forgiveness we must have the deep sense on the price that Christ paid for us. That Christ paid the ultimate price for us, and forgave us for acts that are unpardonable, yet he did. When we have grasped what Christ has did for us, then it should motivate us in overdrive to be always seeking forgiveness. When we have the proper perspective of grace and what it cost and what it is, should enable us to reciprocate to others around us. God forgave us for our failures, so why not forgive others too. This realization must proceed any of our efforts to reconcile, because with the knowing of what and why we are forgiving will enable us to fallow the will of God, and actually forgive with a willing and loving heart. And not to let our emotions rule us, nor to overact and make the situation worse. 

By having the understanding of what Christ did for us in the behave of forgiveness, then it will allow us to put a bigger piece of trust and reliance onto our Lord. We must be able to fully trust, relay, and surrender the control over to Christ. Thus our dependence is who we our in Christ, thus when we take the risk, we need not worry on the results and consequence of that action. We are to lean and trust in our Lord and allow His grace to flow through us to those around us, this is the mark of a health Christian. 

Second: We must be willing to take the Risk 

“Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” {Romans 12:19 NIV} 

“But a witless man can no more become wise than a wild donkey’s colt can be born a man. “Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm and without fear.” {Job 11:12-14 NIV} 

          Forgiveness is a risky business. The person who we may forgive may not realize or admit to the wrong. Nor will they always except our forgiveness. But there response is not our responsibility, we are only to be obedient to our Lord and give the forgiveness out of love, and not expect a warm response. That elder who refused to forgive me for a perceived wrong I did to him is responsible for his actions to the Lord, I’m not. I’ am responsible for my response. So I sought the forgiveness and he refused, that is the risk we take. Also the person who we forgive may continue in the offense, such as that elder who kept spreading rumors about me. She refused to stop, but again this is not my responsibility. We are to allow the freedom to allow others to disappoint us and fail our expectations. 

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.  So even though I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did the wrong or of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are.  By all this we are encouraged.” {2 Corinthians 7:11 NIV} 

We need to be willing to put aside our fears that forgiveness minimizes the wrong brought against us. Sin is ugly and we should recognize that, and its corrupting nature. But just forgiving some one does not make the sin go away. What forgiveness does is release the guilt. 

Third: We need to Cancel the Betrayal 

“Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” {Proverbs 10:12; 17:9 NIV} 

          We have to give up our perceived right of revenge and retaliation. This can be a tough process, but that we can accomplish through prayer, and self surrender. Try to look at it this way; the offense against you is actually an offense against god. As god’s child you are in His protection and care, when someone offends you, it then is also an offense against God himself. Thus we are to surrender our rights to is, and cancel the debt out of existence, and out of our heat and mind. Give it over as if it never happened. You will be surprised once you do this; you will feel the load lifted off you and rest in the comfort of the lord.

          When you pray to God actually request that He takes the desire of revenge away, and relinquish your desires of revenge. 

Forth: We need to offer Personal Forgiveness 

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” {Romans 12:21 NIV} 

          We must be willing to go to the person who offended us, and verbally and non-verbally forgive them. And then seek the appropriate reconciliation to that individual. Offer the love and acceptance of the person, not necessarily what they did. God desires us to be in growing positive and healthy relationships, as one the primary purpose’s of our existence. This should be a driving force of who we are as a Christian, saved by grace. It is the responsibility of the person who did the wrong to repent not the person offended, you can not force repentance from someone, you can only pray for him or her and offer the forgiveness. The relationship can only positively continue when repentance and forgiveness is pursued.

          If the offender refuses to repent or refuses to accepted the forgiveness, then this means there nature is in denial, that they feel no wrong was commited or see you as trying to manipulate there will. They maybe socialpathic, that is have some form of mental disorder, that they may enjoy inflicting hurt and hardship on people. In any case the reason it is not you responsibility for their acceptance, our responsibility is only to genuinely present forgiveness. We need to except the fact of human nature that some people just will not play ball God’s way, especially Christians. So if this is the case your forgiveness is between you and Christ, as it is anyway, because we are God’s children. 

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” {1 Peter 4:7-8 NIV} 

Fifth: We need to recognize what the result of Forgiveness looks like 

          The result of forgiveness is letting it go and, wishing blessings and compassion to the person who wronged you. Repentance simply means biblically to change ones perspective. That is to turn from our way of thinking over to God’s way. That is to change our minds and hearts away from our desires to Christ’s desires. When we do this, then we have truly have forgiven that person. Leaving out any of the above steps, and only forcing your will into the situation, deluding yourself in thinking that you have forgiven; you have not. Its not about us, it is about God, and His desire for us to live in peace and love.

           We always need to keep reminding ourselves our status in Christ, as we previously discussed, as paramount to continue to go on in our lives with out the hurt and bitterness.  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” {Romans 5:8 NIV} This does not mean that we will not feel the pain, or perhaps suffer the consequence from someone else’s actions. What it means is we are saved by grace by what Christ has done, so we need to reciprocate grace and peace to those around us, even though we may not like it. 

          “This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. {Jeremiah 9:23-24 NIV} 

          We need to keep ourselves tuned into God constantly and continually, allow Him to carry us through. 

If you are the offender 

          If you are the person who hurt someone, and that person is unwilling to forgive you, Its up to you to make it right. You may not receive that person’s forgiveness, but that is between them and God, and not you. You need to go through the steps of forgiveness, but with the emphases to earnestly repent and give restitution. You need to confess openly and publicly, before the person you offended. Then you need to go to the person, which you may do first. Then do not rationalize what you did, or minimize it in anyway. And then go to Christ humbly repent, which means you make a commitment to change your heat, mind and actions.

If going to the person is impossible because of distance, death, or restraining order, and then we need to totally relay on God. Take your head form 2 Corinthians 7:8-11, allows Christ to be you mediator, and know you are not off the hook for truly seeking repentance. 

          When we refuse to forgive or refuse to repent, then we are concealing ourselves from God and His best for us. And we rationalize the reality of the infection of sin, and its destructive nature to our being, and to those around us. We create a wall to shut ourselves off from God, and each other, thus we inturn on ourselves with the consequence without any reprieve or comfort. We then suffer with the guilt and bitterness as our personal lives devolve and our impact to the community as Christians becomes a hindrance instead of a blessing. Take a serious look into Psalm 32, and mediate over it carefully, and then surrender yourselves over to the love of Christ. Allow the sin to be forgiven and released, be courageous to seek out forgiveness and public confession and reconciliation. Allow yourself to grow and mature to the best whole person that Christ has for you. There is simply no better way. This is liberation and true comfort: 

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”–and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, your righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!” {Psalm 32 NIV}

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About Biblical Guy

Dr. Richard Joseph Krejcir lives in Southern California and is married to the beautiful MaryRuth and a precious son Ryan, a miracle from God. He is a child of God who is committed to biblical understanding, prayer, spiritual growth, and integrity. He is the Founder and Director of Into Thy Word Ministries, a missions and discipling ministry, with a call upon his heart to bring discipleship materials to pastors and everyone who needs them here and overseas. He is also a researcher at the Schaeffer Institute and spent over fifteen years on an in-depth, careful and through study on End Times. He is the author of numerous articles, curriculum's and books such as "Into Thy Word," and is also an ordained pastor, teacher, and speaker. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena California (Master of Divinity) and holds a Ph.D. (Practical Theology) from London. He has amounted over 25 years of pastoral ministry experience including serving as a church growth consultant.
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