Part 4 – Forgive
3 "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ’I repent,’ you shall forgive him."
“Take heed to yourselves” … Why did Jesus say, “take heed to yourselves”?
During the past 60 years I have discovered some truths about forgiveness.
· Forgiveness is not the measure of the person being forgiven but rather the measure of the person who is forgiving.
· When we forgive someone it says nothing about them but everything about us.
· What you say about someone else says everything about you.
· Forgiveness may not change the other person but unforgiveness will change you.
· An unforgiving heart can make a person mentally, physically and spiritually ill.
· Forgiveness and restoration are two separate issues.
o Forgiveness is the responsibility of the offended person
o Restoration is largely dependent on the offender
· People who harbor anger, bitterness and resentment build a prison for only one person - themselves.
For these reasons Jesus instructed His followers to take heed to themselves and make sure they were forgiving. In the book of Matthew Peter came to Jesus for clarification and asked:
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
You see, forgiveness is a God-given right. Forgiveness is not earned and it must be paid for by the person who has been hurt or offended. Forgiveness to set both the forgiver and the forgiven free whether or not the offender changes or is sorry or even knows they are forgiven. When we forgive we turn things over to God.
As well, there is a very strong connection between us forgiving others and we being forgiven ourselves. Jesus taught us about forgiveness by saying:
Matthew 6 KJV
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Later Jesus instructed us further by saying:
Luke 6:37 Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Remember: When you forgive someone it is not the measure of the person you are forgiving but rather the measure of God in you!
The Bible teaches three elements of forgiveness. I understand them as:
1. To release the debtor - απολυω apoluo ap-ol-oo’-o
2. To forego the debt - αφιημι aphiemi af-ee’-ay-mee
3. To forget the debt - αφεσις aphesis af’-es-is
When someone sins against us or does us harm, hurts us or trespasses against us in some way, we are called to release them over into the hands of God for His discretion; His disposition; and/or His vengeance. It is not our place to judge, condemn or harbor reproach. We are instructed to forgive them by turning them over to God instead of exacting our own brand of vengeance against them, maligning them or allowing bitterness to grow in our hearts and minds which only gives way to further injury.
Sin, the classic sin which is most often thought of and spoken of in the Bible, is committed against God and God alone. God is the One Who gave the law and set the standards of righteousness and He is the only One Who can forgive sin in the such a way that pays for and forgets sin. The best we can do is to turn the matter over to God. That’s forgiveness …
This concept is not much different than when a person takes the law into their own hands attempting to exact punitive damages or incarcerate a neighbor for some infraction they feel worthy of punishment. True justice is out of our hands and can be obtained only from the hand of God. For this reason the Bible tells us to forgive and release that person to God.
When we forgive we turn others over to God and do our best … We:
1. Do not judge them in our own hearts
2. Do not condemn them with our own words
3. Do not slay them with our own hands
The First Step in forgiveness it to declare it to God out loud. Some of you took that First Step this morning … now, what must you do from here?
Three Steps to Forgiveness
1. Say it out loud to God and ask God to help you.
2. Don’t nurse it; curse it; or rehearse it … let it go.
3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 as often as needed.
This will please God. Believe me He knows how hard it can be to forgive … but He’ll help you. We are not going to leave you without some tools that will help along the way as well. Forgive … it gets better from here on.