What is forgiveness? • It is an active decision to give up your perceived or actual right to get even with some one who has wronged you • It is canceling a debt. • How was the debt paid? • “It is finished” = tetelistai = PAID IN FULL
What does the Bible teach us about forgiveness • “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ • Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’” Matthew 18:21, 22
“If indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices”2 Cor. 2:10, 11
“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses”Matt 6:12, 14, 15
God’s promises of forgiveness to us (4) • 1) “East-West” promise, Psalm 103:12 • 2) “ Amnesia” promise , Jeremiah 31:34 • 3) “Stain Remover” promise , Isaiah 1:18 • 4) “Deep Sea “ promise , Micah 7:19
Our society and marital conflicts • Our society teaches us many ways to cope with marital conflicts, but forgiving is notone of them: -running away from problems does not change anyone or anything -endless fighting useless -blaming each other leads nowhere -giving up depression -getting even lethal
The consequences of refusing to forgive (3) • 1. Refusing to forgive means that God will not forgive us
2. Refusing to forgive means we will be tormented • Matt. 18:23-35 :
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. • 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to thejailers to betortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
What is the the torment ?: - psychological problems, depression, restlessness, anger, high blood pressure, chest pain tension headache, upset stomach, insomnia, inner turmoil. • - The ratio of my brother’s “debt” to me vs. my debt to the Lord is 1: 600,000
“ To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you !” Lewis B. Smedes • “ When you do not forgive someone, in some way that person is in jail, and you are the warden. You are incarcerated too, because you have to make sure the prisoner stays there” Kerney Franston
“Un-forgiveness is a cancer that eats away the very soul of a person” Nancy Leigh from her book “Choosing forgiveness” • “ To err is human , to forgive is divine.” • “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi Jesus did not forgive me
Satan loves to put thoughts in my head to prevent me from forgiving others: - “I’m not going to just let them off the hook!” - “Why should I forgive? They are the ones who need to ask for my forgiveness” - “You don’t understand what they did to me” • “I am not ready to forgive yet”
“I am going to make you pay for what you did.” • “ I am going to get even with you.” • “I will hold this against you for the rest of your life.” • “I will give you a dose of your own medicine.” “It is not that big of a deal, I will just forget it”
3.Refusing to forgive causes us trouble and defiles our own spirit -When we don’t forgive: -we nurse a grudge -we are resentful, tortured by hate -we are imprisoned by bitterness
Bitterness pollutes the atmosphere of our lives • We refuse to excuse sin or justify the sinner. Both judgment and salvation are God’s business. • Our part is simply to take our offenses, hurt and painful memories to the Cross, ………and leave them there.
“Forgive as the Lord forgave you” Col. 3:13 • Forgiving others is not a suggestion, it is a command, …..and a good one! • The amazing miracle of forgiving others is that it stops our own pain!
Jesus did not forgive me that way: -- I can not play the martyr role when I forgive, …. because Jesus did not forgive me that way. -- I can not settle the score first before I forgive, … because Jesus did not forgive me that way
-- I can not keep a running tally of grievances, … because Jesus did not forgive me that way. -- I can not forgive with my lips and then bring it up again when I need the advantage of some power, … because Jesus did not forgive me that way.
-- I can not forgive and then tell all the people about it, …because Jesus did not forgive me that way. -- I can not go through all the motions of forgiveness and then harbor resentment for weeks, months and years, … because Jesus did not forgive me that way.
Ten Steps to Forgiveness • If the experience was traumatic, such as childhood abuse or adultery in marriage, we may find forgiveness extremely difficult. • In such cases, it helps to pray through the following 10 steps, one at a time. • Personalizing each step by inserting the person’s name, or recalling the incident or visualizing what is happening.
1.Feel the pain, hurt, resentment, bitterness and hate “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” Matt 5:4
2. Submit yourself to God, recalling how Christ forgave you: GO TO THE CROSS!
3. Ask for Christ’s grace and power to forgive Sometimes our emotions scream: “I can’t forgive! You do not understand what they did to me!” True, but Jesus understands, and He will give us the grace to obey His commands. “Ask and you will be given” Luke 11:9
Two marks of a Christian: giving and forgiving
. • In our prayers, we should ask the Lord to bring to our minds the names or the faces of every person we need to forgive, sometimes names of people we have forgotten for years. Some of them might be dead. • The most common names to surface are mother and father. Then, one by one, pray this simple forgiveness prayer: “Lord, I forgive (……) for (……)”
4. Agree to live with the unavoidable consequences of the other person’s sins against you. Your only choice is between: the bondage of bitterness vs. the freedom of forgiveness.
5. Release the offense: Tear up the debt (personal, moral and relational) that you feel the other person owes you. How to apply it concretely?
- Forgiveness is a gift you give to your self. - A former inmate of a Nazi prison camp was visiting a friend who shared the ordeal with him. The first person asked his friend : “Have you forgiven the Nazis ?” “ Yes”, the second answered.
The first said: “Well, I have not. I am still consumed with hatred for them.” The second man replied: “ In that case, they still have you in prison !”
6. Never bring it up as a weapon during a marital conflict. What does it mean if I bring up again “forgiven” offenses?
7. Keep forgiving when: -your emotions recycle the pain -when the person keeps offending you -- Explain the diabolical war in forgiveness. -- What to do then: -James 4:7 :”Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” -Pray the forgiveness prayer
- Compare between these 2 verses: how are they different, what do they have in common?: - Matt.5:23 “If you bring your gift to thealtar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
- Matt.18:15 : “ If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.”
8. Reject the sinful act and tolerate it no longer -God does not want you to put up with abuse, He does not want you to be a doormat -Take your stand against the sin