Opening Thought: I heard a preacher say “Not forgiving others is like drinking poison trying to do them harm.”
Have bricks with the words parents, spouse, children, co-workers, boss, me on them. As I put each one into my little bag explain how each one has offended me and how I have a right to be offended (except the last, just place that one in there without showing who it is).
When we carry it around it just weighs us down. Try to do a real prayer walk with this and see what happens (it slows us down and distracts us from the task at hand) or worshipping in church (we cannot keep our minds off of it).
Why is this such a big problem?
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. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 “Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. 28 But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 “So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 30 “And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 “And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
· This is not a command to keep count. Jewish tradition required to forgive three times, and Peter probably felt pretty generous offering seven times. But Jesus went well beyond that in saying 70 x 7. This does not mean on the 491st offence we could go off on them and not forgive. Remember the context here: God has already forgiven us of more than any one person could ever do to us.
· This needs to be a ready forgiveness from the heart, not just the mouth. In fact the mouth need not be involved in this at all. We do not even need in most cases let the party who offended us know about this at all. The devil can use this as a tool to get one more dig in on the person who hurt us if we are not careful. Unless it is a very unique situation it would do more harm than good.
Since we know this is a command of God, what else do we know?
Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
· That since we know we should if we do not it is sin
18 If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The Lord will not hear.
· Sin hinders our relationship with God
· Stack bricks one on top of another. Show how there is a separation from things on both sides. Show how as we forgive the wall is torn down and the relationship restored.
Finally, we get a root of bitterness in our hearts:
Looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;
The forgiving heart has a special attitude.
31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
· Kind from the root word NT:5530 chraomai (khrah’-om-ahee); middle voice of a primary verb (perhaps rather from NT:5495, to handle); to furnish what is needed; (give an oracle, “graze” [touch slightly], light upon, etc.), i.e. (by implication) to employ or (by extension) to act towards one in a given manner: KJV – entreat, use.[i]
· Tenderhearted- NT:2155 eusplagchnos (yoo’-splangkh-nos); from NT:2095 and NT:4698; well compassioned, i.e. sympathetic: KJV – pitiful, tender-hearted.[ii]
· Forgiving- NT:5483 charizomai (khar-id’-zom-ahee); middle voice from NT:5485; to grant as a favor, i.e. gratuitously, in kindness, pardon or rescue: KJV – deliver, (frankly) forgive, (freely) give, grant.
12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
· This is not an option people!
The Reward of the Forgiving Heart
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Our goal is to be like Christ. He had many opportunities to fail, He chose not to, the easy way is to be like the world but we are called to a narrow path not the wide one.
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
We need to be able to forgive to truly experience forgiveness.
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.”
· Again Jesus is emphasizing it does not matter how many times we are offended, we need to forgive!
1 Thess 5:24
He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
I know this is a tall order, but the good news is we are not doing this alone, we have the Spirit of God within us if we are saved and He will guide us in the right way if we ask and listen and seek to obey (desiring to do right when we want to do what we want to do!).
If you are not saved, this is a nearly impossible task because you do not know what it means to be forgiven, but the Spirit of the Living God is here and if you realize you are a sinner in need of salvation, I cannot save you but can direct you to Him who can and who loves you and wants to save you, my dear Saviour, Jesus. Why not trust Him now?
[i] Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.
[ii] Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.