Forgiving (Psalm 32; Matthew 18:21-35;Luke 23:34; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13)is the realization of how much we have been forgiven by Christ. This enables us to forgive the insignificant things that are done to us. It involves not being resentful to others, and ignoring the wrongs that we have received so we can heal relationships by expressing Christ's love.
Unforgiving, blame, being intolerant, callous and bitter are the opposites. When we refuse to forgive or refuse to repent, then we are concealing ourselves from God and His best for us! Unforgiving allows bitterness to be built and continue so that it festers, and corrupts our whole being. Then bitterness becomes our driving force and identity. So it must not take hold of our lives, or it well block out the flow of the Holy Sprit and the rest of the fruits of the Spirit especially self-control and love!
Forgiveness requires maturity, patience and tact. Forgiveness is also a mandate from our Lord. God desires us to seek forgiveness; because God is a God of forgiveness where He is centered upon 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 the knowledge of God's mercy, then we have the responsibility of acting on mercy with each other. (Ephesians 4:29-32) How can we go through our Christian life and experience and rationalize our actions and deeds only to face our Lord later on in judgment!
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 have is what we do not deserve. Our Lord does not want us to forgive begrudgingly, because He did not forgive us with conditions and strings attached.
We as Christians must extend ourselves to other people with love and what flows out of love is forgiveness (John 13:34-35). 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.
First: Forgiveness is Hard (Isaiah 55:8-9). Forgiveness is hard because it demands a surrender of our rights to get even. Forgiveness even demands suffering form the person who was wronged. God is governed by righteousness… were desires and emotions drive us… God has a moral and virtuous purpose… and our purpose is self-seeking.
Second: Forgiveness is Complete (Colossians 3:12-14) Forgiveness is actually canceling a 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.
Third: Forgiveness is Costly (Luke 6:27-31) When we forgive it may incur a cost to us, and we should realize and welcome it. Christ did not owe our debt, yet He paid it! 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. 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 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. (Psalm 32)
- How do I exhibit forgiveness in my daily life?
- What can I do to develop a better attitude of forgiveness?
- What blocks forgiveness from working and being exhibited in me?
- How can I make forgiveness function better, stronger and faster even in times of uncertainly and stress?
- How would you define Forgiving?
- What are the things that lure you to be Unforgiving?
- Do you seek forgiveness from people you offend and hurt?
- What happens to our relationships with God and others when we bow to being intolerant or refuse to Forgive?
- When have you been filled with a Forgiving attitude the most?
- In what situation did you fail to forgive someone with whom you should have?
- What issue is in your life that would improve with more forgiveness?
- Think through the steps you need to take to put a Forgiving attitude into action in a specific instance?
· Here are positive examples from Scripture (Gen. 50:15-21; I Sam. 24:10-12; Luke 23:34; Acts 7:54-60)
· Here is are negative examples from Scripture (Gen. 27:41-45; Jonah 3:10-4:2; Matt. 18:21-35)Character speaks for itself. We never owe people an explanation or excuse to be the person that God called us to be.
© 2002, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org