And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. (Ephesians 4:30-5:1 HCSB)
What is forgiveness?
Picture #1 — canceling the debt
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12 HCSB)
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided His clothes and cast lots. (Luke 23:34 HCSB)
Picture #2 — casting away the offense
My soul, praise the Lord, and do not forget all His benefits. He forgives all your sin; He heals all your diseases. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalms 103:2, 3, 12 HCSB)
He will again have compassion on us; He will vanquish our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19 HCSB)
Picture #3 — not bringing the offense to mind
This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws on their hearts and write them on their minds, He adds: I will never again remember their sins and their lawless acts. Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:16-18 HCSB)
Biblical definition of forgiveness: “I don’t hold it against you, and I won’t bring it up again.”
Why is forgiveness important?
1. Restoring relationships
All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. (Ephesians 4:31, 32 HCSB)
- Apologize when you offend — don’t be afraid to say, “I’m sorry”
- Forgive others when they offend you
2. It is the way of Christ
Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. (Ephesians 5:1 HCSB)
- Jesus was a forgiving person!
3. Personal spiritual growth
And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30 HCSB)
- God’s Holy Spirit is grieved when we live in disobedience (such as refusing to forgive). This stunts and stagnates our spiritual growth.
If you choose not to forgive…
- You will carry burdens & baggage that God never intended for you to carry
- You will develop bitterness
- You will not help to heal broken relationships
- You will be trapped in spiritual bondage
Why is it so hard to forgive?
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times? ” “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven. (Matthew 18:21, 22 HCSB)
1. The pain and hurt are real
- Forgiveness is not minimizing the hurt
- Forgiveness believes that God can bring healing
2. We don’t think the offender deserves forgiveness
- It’s not our job to be the judge and jury. It’s our job to forgive.
- Did we deserve forgiveness when God forgave us? No.
- Stop counting how many times you forgive. Just forgive.
3. We think that our unforgiveness puts us in control of the situation
- But in reality, if we choose not to forgive, we become controlled by the unforgiveness and bitterness in our heart.
- Forgive. Be set free from the burden of unforgiveness.
And sometimes it seems especially hard to forgive family members and close friends because…
1. There is a close relationship, deep emotional bond, lots of history
2. More interaction with them, more opportunities to offend
3. Our expectations of them are higher
4. We are in a spiritual battle, and the enemy attacks families to drive wedges between people
So how do you forgive?
And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. (Ephesians 4:32 HCSB)
1. Look to Christ
- Our ability to forgive flows from the overflow of God’s forgiveness. Draw from His deep well of forgiveness.
- When you look to Christ and think about how much He has forgiven you, you will be able to forgive others when they have offended you.
- A forgiven person will be a forgiving person
2. Choose to forgive
- You have a choice. Choose to forgive.
- With God’s help, you can do it.
3. Release the offense
- Cancel the debt
- Cast away the offense
- Don’t bring it up again
4. Take steps toward reconciliation
- Do what you can do to bring about reconciliation
- Say, “I forgive you” or “Let’s work this out” or other healing words
- Spend time together
- Give a simple gift as a token of the relationship
- You may need to simply give them a handshake or a hug
- Display acts of kindness