Summary: Reconciliation for broken relationships is only possible when justice and forgiveness meet.

In Ernest Hemmingway’s short story “The Capital of the World,” three aspiring bull fighters try to make a name for themselves in Madrid. Hemmingway introduces this short story by telling the reader about a young man named Paco who had run away from his father to the big city of Madrid. The father came to Madrid and inserted an advertisement in the personal columns of El Liberal which said: PACO MEET ME AT HOTEL MONTANA NOON TUESDAY ALL IS FORGIVEN PAPA. At noon the next day, a squadron of police had to be called out to disperse the eight hundred young men who answered the ad. It seems there was more than one Paco in Madrid who was longing to experience his father’s forgiveness.

Hemingway, Ernest. The Complete Short Stories Of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition (p. 29). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

We have a desperate need for forgiveness and reconciliation. Today’s key word for a godly home is FORGIVENESS.

FORGIVENESS concludes the CROWN of CHRISTIAN VIRTUES found in Ephesians four. The chapter begins with a call to live the Christian life in a way that pleases the Lord. “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” (Ephesians 4:1, ESV)

Throughout chapter four, Paul provides the behaviors that ought to characterize Christians, and the behaviors that are part of our old self. We are to “put off” things that belong to the old life we had before Christ, and we are to “put on” the new Christ like virtues.

“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” (Ephesians 4:17, ESV)

The last of the admonitions in Ephesians four center on the Christian virtue of forgiveness.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31–32, ESV)

A lack of forgiveness grieves the Holy Spirit who dwells within every believer. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30, ESV).

Forgiveness is vitally important. Most of us would not think that we are unforgiving, but consider some of the evidences of an unforgiving spirit:

‒ self defeat (self destruction)

‒ self exaltation

‒ putting others down through humiliation

‒ sarcasm

‒ anger

‒ chain of broken relationships

‒ constantly repeating the past

‒ lack of joy

‒ competitiveness

The first step in understanding forgiveness of others is to consider God’s forgiveness of our sin.

When we place our faith in Jesus Christ, God REMOVES our sin.

“as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12, NIV84)

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25, NIV84)

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7, NIV84)

When Christians sin, our fellowship with the Lord is broken. Although our standing with the Lord does not change, we must confess our sin so that we can be RESTORED to fellowship.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, ESV)

The word “cleanse” is the Greek word katharidzo. We speak of a KATHARTIC experience - something that brings cleansing

God Commands Us to Forgive Others

“in 1998, the John Templeton Foundation awarded research grants for the study of forgiveness to 29 scholars, and one of the primary discoveries of these studies is that the person who benefits the most from forgiveness is the person who does the forgiving” (J.T. Kendall, “Total forgiveness, xxviii)

We must forgive others because we all need forgiveness

John ‘Oglethorpe once told John Wessley, “I never forgive.” Wessley replied, “Well then, sir, I hope you never sin” (Illus for Bib Preaching, 152)

1 John 1:8-9 "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

1 John 2:1 "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One."

Proverbs 20:9 "Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?"

Ecclesiastes 7:20 "There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins."

1 Kings 8:46 “When they sin against you— for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to his own land, far away or near;"

In the model prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, he demonstrates that we need daily FORGIVENESS as much as we need DAILY BREAD! Note how both necessities are tied together. “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:11–12, ESV)


To Forgive means “to send away, to release”

The word is used in MATT 18:27 “He cancelled the debt that was owed”

a DEBT is “that which is due to you” Romans 4:4 "Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation."

Our Fellowship with God hinges on our Forgiveness of others

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14–15, ESV)

“We shall not experience the fullness of God’s forgiveness toward us, according to Jesus, unless we extend the same forgiveness to those who have wronged us. . . .Why is this so? Because we cannot truly ask for forgiveness unless our heart is right regarding other people. God does not work by halves. He will not allow us to come to Him confessing half a sin while hanging onto the other half.” James Montgomery Boice

“When we are bitter, we delude ourselves into thinking that those who hurt us are more likely to be punished as long as we are set on revenge” (JT Kendall, “Total Forgiveness,” xxiii)

BE thankful that you have been forgiven.

SHOW the same forgiveness to others.

You will be released from the burden of holding onto something that can only damage you

You will experience God’s forgiveness and restoration.

Forgiveness and Justice

Forgiveness releases a person from the DEBT OWED to US

When we FORGIVE, we release the person from the debt owed to us.

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.” (Matthew 18:23–27, ESV)

JUSTICE sets things RIGHT according to a RIGHTEOUS STANDARD

“For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’ ” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”” (Luke 18:4–8, ESV)

“I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:24, NIV84)

Can you have FORGIVENESS without JUSTICE?

YES! You release the person from the debt owed to you

They may never ask

They may reject your kindness

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18, NIV84)

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14, NIV84)

Can you have JUSTICE without FORGIVENESS?

YES. Consider a courtroom where a judge announces the verdict. A judgement is rendered, but there it is extremely unlikely that the two parties will every be reconciled.


There are Three REQUIREMENTS for reconciliation.

Truth regarding past offences

Confession of sins

Forgiveness of the offender


God’s FORGIVENESS - expressed in his love for us

God’s JUSTICE - satisfied through the sacrifice of Christ

“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,” (1 Peter 3:18, NIV84)

Forgiveness in the Family

Forgive minor offences without confrontation. “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11, NIV84)

Seek forgiveness when you have sinned. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31–32, NIV84)

Seek Reconciliation when sin separates family members. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:17–18, NIV84)