We're going to talk today about forgiving one another. In one of my Bibles, I have a note: "Jack's number one problem" in the margin of this passage.
- Colossians 3:13
Verse thirteen tells us to forgive one another, to be forgiving of one another.
- Ephesians 4:32
We must be forgiving of one another. It is not always easy.
The word translated “forgiving” in these verses is “charizomai.” It comes from the same Greek root word (charis) as does the word translated “grace.” There is a connection between forgiveness and grace, in this context.
"To bestow a favor unconditionally," is used of the act of "forgiveness," whether divine or human” — Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words
How are we to Forgive One Another?
What is forgiveness, we just defined it, but what does it look like?
It is not:
- Just ignoring those who wrong us!
- More than refusing to hit back
- Overlooking the sin is not forgiveness
God does not overlook sin - nor should man.
“Christ will forgive any trespass. He can overlook none.” — Speakers Sourcebook - p. 105
- Luke 17:3
Not putting on probation is not forgiveness.
When we see forgiveness we see the example of God.
We see what God did.
- Removes the wrong from his record - Acts 3:19
- He forgets - removes it out of his mind - Hebrews 8:12
- He treats us like He did before we sinned receiving us back wholeheartedly - Luke 15, the parable of the prodigal son, the Father took the son back.
This is the way God forgives us!
Examples of forgiveness in the Old Testament:
- Esau forgave Jacob - Genesis 33:4
- Joseph forgave his brethren – Genesis 50:10-21
Wendell Winkler suggested a test.
Have I Really Forgiven?
- Do I secretly rejoice when I hear of some misfortune coming to my offender?
- Do I purposefully avoid his presence?
- Do I speak to him hesitantly and only under duress?
- Do I vividly remember the wrong committed?
- Do I ever sit in silence and meditate and brood over the wrong done to me?
- Could I happily and anxiously go to God in prayer on my offender's behalf?
- Have I sought an opportunity to do him a favor?
- Romans 12:17-21
It's not always possible to live peacefully, but on your part, you must always seek to live at peace with your enemy. Have I truly forgiven?
Importance of Forgiveness
- It is a command.
• Colossians 3:13
- The example of Christ demands it.
• Luke 23:34
• 1 Peter 2:21-23
- The example of Stephen teaches forgiveness.
• Acts 7:60
- Forgive, because we have been forgiven.
• Ephesians 4:32
- Matthew 18:23-35
In order that we might be forgiven, we are to forgive.
- Matthew 6:12, 14-15
Because it may be later than you think
- Mark 13:32
Forgive and be forgiven or refuse forgiveness and have forgiveness refused. The most expensive thing in the world is to harbor ill-will toward another. The price is the loss of heaven! Who would want to be found at His coming holding a grudge against his brother? The person of our revenge may die.
Two men were mad at one another for years. After several years they met and wouldn't speak. But one of them suddenly returned and shook his hand. They left smiling. They had finally forgiven one another. In a few days, one of them died.
Later another wrote, “Is it not always well to seek forgiveness now.”
You stand on the verge of eternity! There is the possibility of dying at any moment.
If we're unforgiving, we may die unforgiven.
Incorrect Attitudes Toward Forgiveness
Many say, “I cannot forgive.” God does not require the impossible
- 1 John 5:3
When one says they cannot forgive what they mean instead is, “I will not forgive.” The greatest of men have been able to forgive the severest offenses. Joseph and Stephen are examples.
“I'll forgive you, but in the future will have nothing to do with you.”
We are to forgive as Christ forgives.
- Ephesians 4:32
“It's a favor from me to you.”
- Matthew 6:15
“I'll forgive you, but I'll never forget it.”
- This is not forgiveness- Acts 3:19
How Do You Forgive?
Remember how much you have been forgiven.
- Matthew 18:23-35
Remember the parable of the unforgiving servant.
We all have been forgiven of every sin which is much more than we'll ever have to forgive anyone else.
Ask God's assistance in forgiving.
Be sure you really want to forgive.
- Matthew 6:12
This is the difference between saying or praying a prayer. Christ and Stephen prayed to God asking for the forgiveness extended to those who offended them.
Pray for Your Offender
- Luke 23:34
Forgive as God forgives.
- Colossians 3:13
How Often Must We Forgive?
- Matthew 18:21-22
Rabbi's thought 3 times was enough, Peter thought 7 times was sufficient, Jesus said 70 times 7. There is no limit to forgiveness. We are not to keep a ledger. Forgiveness is not a matter of bookkeeping.
But forgiveness is a matter of love and love has no limits. We must not say, “It will do no good to forgive him, he will do it again.” As long and as often as a man turns and says “I repent” we are to forgive him.
- Luke 17:3-5
Who Must Take the Initiative in Forgiveness?
- Matthew 5:23-24
Before the offender can worship scripturally, he must first get things straightened out with the offended one. There is no use trying to talk to God if we are not on speaking terms with our brother. The shortest way to God may be the distance to your brother's house.
- Matthew 18:15-17
We often take the attitude, “Well, he sinned against me; so let him take the initiative.” The Lord was the offended one, yet he left heaven to come to seek and save the sinner.
Both the offender and the offended should seek to forgive, or find forgiveness. Brother A sins against brother B, and both should seek to take the initiative to make it right.
When the Bible is followed both will take the initiative and will meet about halfway,
“To err is human, to forgive, divine.” — Alexander Pope
“Every person should have a special cemetery lot in which to bury the faults of friends and loved ones.” — Author Unknown
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” — Nelson Mandela
“The best way to get even is to forget.” — Author Unknown
An African proverb says: “He who forgives ends the quarrel.”
“He that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven; for everyone has need to be forgiven.” — George Herbert
He has offered us the grace of forgiveness in the sacrifice of His Son on the cross. How are we going to respond to that grace? We respond by believing that He is, repent of our sins, confess our belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and be baptized to have our sins washed away by the blood of Christ, Acts 22:17.
If you were once faithful, but have turned away, you can turn back and walk again in faith with Him.
If we can assist you in finding forgiveness, or learning to forgive others, please contact us.