Summary: "A Forgiving Heart" is part of the "Christian's Heart series and deals with what a forgiving heart looks like, including that it is a heart of compassion, a forgiving heart, and a heart that is forgiven.
A Christian’s Heart
“A Forgiving Heart”
Let me begin our study with this truth, we’re all going to be hurt by someone, somewhere, and at sometime. It may be something someone says at work, or a parent or friend’s broken promise, or it could be a spouse’s unfaithfulness. In fact it could be a number of different things.
These hurts may be verbal in what others say or the names they may call you. It may be non-verbal, such as people turning their backs on you, a lack of affection, or abuse.
But God offers unlimited forgiveness, and tells us that we need to do the same if we’re going to have hearts of forgiveness.
When Peter came to Jesus asking how often he should forgive someone who does something wrong, Jesus basically told him to do it for as long as it takes saying we’re to forgive up to seventy time seven, Matthew 18:21-22.
Now Jesus wasn’t saying 490 times, but rather we’re to forgive as long as it takes for forgiveness to take root within our hearts. And you’ll know when that is when you remember it and it no longer eats your guts out.
Another important truth that we need to get out of the way is that forgiveness has nothing to do with forgetfulness. In other words, I’m not talking about a forgetting heart, but a forgiving heart.
There’s a myth that says forgiving is forgetting. “Forgive and forget,” they say. It’s a myth because every time we try to forget something all we do is end up remembering it. So we’ll be a lot happier when we’re less forgetting and more forgiving.
And when we think about it this is God’s way. He forgives our sins; He doesn’t forget them. And while the writer of Hebrews says that God will forgive and remember our sins no more, Hebrews 8:12, it’s not that He forgets them. If God forgets anything it means He is no longer God, because God cannot forget. Instead God chooses to no longer remember our sins against us. God keeps no ledger of our wrongs, and neither should we.
A forgiving heart is therefore what we need and what we’re after. But how do we obtain it? We obtain a forgiving heart only when we realize just how much God has forgiven us.
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
When we consider everything that others have done to us, and then consider everything we’ve done to and against God, and then knowing that He’s forgiving us; forgiving others should be our natural response.
Think of it this way. When we place the pile of wrongs other people have done against us along side the pile of wrongs we’ve heaped up against God, then we’ll realize how very small these other piles are compared do our own.
I remember one person asking how I could forgive them, seeing how they absolutely devastated my world. The reason I remember my response is because the shock it registered on their face.
I said, “How can I not forgive you seeing how much God has forgiven me!”
It’s far easier to have a forgiving heart when we not only feel forgiven, but when we also realize just how much God has forgiven us.
Today I want to look at three aspects of what a forgiving heart looks like.
A forgiving heart is
1. A Heart of Compassion
A forgiving heart is a heart of compassion that comforts others in their time of need.
This is brought out in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that…
“We may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NKJV)
In the way God continues to forgive us, showing us His unmerited and unconditional love, and this is what we should be doing and showing others. Shouldn’t we show the same compassion God has shown us? Shouldn’t we comfort others the same way God has comforted us in our time of need?
This is actually the heart of Jesus.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29 NKJV)
In like manner we’re to bear one another’s burdens.
“Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 NKJV)
This also was at the heart of what Paul told the Colossian Church.
“As the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another.” (Colossians 3:12-13a NKJV)