Summary: Forgiveness is the gateway to freedom, from bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness is a choice we make. It chooses to see the good. It comes through the grace of God.
I believe most of us know the Story of the Prodigal Son by now – a father with two sons, and one decided to take his share of inheritance and left home.
• The other stayed and worked hard in the field to please the father.
• His younger brother eventually squandered everything and had to come home.
Let’s read the last part of the Story – Luke 15:21-32
On his return, he faced two contrasting receptions.
• One was happy to see him; the other was angry at his return.
• One was overwhelmed with love and excitement; the other was filled with resentment and refused to see him.
• One was eager to forgive; the other was determined to condemn.
• One saw the event as sweet and called for a celebration, the other found it bitter.
The fact was undeniable. The offense was real. The young man did wrong.
• He shouldn’t had demanded for the inheritance, prematurely, especially so when the father was still alive.
• It was grossly disrespectful and sinful, for the conservative, Jewish culture.
• He left home and did nothing noble. Squandered all the money in wild living and accomplished nothing. It was just one mistake after another.
When he came to his senses, he returned home, with nothing to offer, practically bankrupted.
• Yet the father treated him with love and grace, and welcomes him with an embrace and kiss.
• The father had already forgiven him in his heart, even before he could complete his apology speech.
• It was as if no explanation was needed. He was his beloved son before, and he remains to be his beloved son now.
His brother, on the other hand, was angry and bitter. He refused to see him.
• The father and the older son both saw the same offense, but they did not share the same sentiment.
• Why were the responses so different? Why were there TWO opposing receptions, from the same family, when they both saw the same offense?
• One was ready to forgive, and it tells us something about forgiveness:
(1) FORGIVENESS IS A CHOICE WE MAKE
It has nothing to do with the offense, or the seriousness of it.
• It is not dependent upon the offender. It need not have to wait for an apology. It has nothing to do with getting the person to make amends.
• Forgiveness starts with us. It is a choice we make to let go of the offense and be at peace.
Of the two (the father and older son), the father would have felt the hurt of the offense more, having the younger son demanding his inheritance prematurely, treating the father as ‘dead’, leaving the home and squandering his money. Yet he was the one overjoyed at seeing his son.
• If you want to be like him - happy and eager to celebrate – then you must forgive. We take the initiative and choose to forgive.
• Otherwise, you’re left with only one other option – remembering the offense and letting it bites you, causing you to feel bitter, angry and revengeful.
• Is that what you want?
Two elderly sisters were involved in a car accident 20 years ago.
Each blamed the other for the accident. The one driving said her sister was distracting her, and the sister said she was driving badly.
Both of them should have said "well these things happen" and got on with life, but instead, they accused each other and refused to talk to each other, for 20 years!
Choose happiness. Free yourself from these by taking the step to forgive.
• God set us the same example in Christ, when He made the first move to reach out to us and offer us His forgiveness.
• Jesus’ cry on the cross “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) - was the cry of God’s heart.
• The Bible says, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Col 3:13b)
Forgiveness is not giving a cheap excuse for the offense. It is not ignoring the crime. It is not denying the wrongdoing.
• It was clear that the younger son had done wrong. No one dispute that.
• But we can choose to let go of the offense, and extend forgiveness and grace instead, even in the face of the hurts and pains we felt at being wronged.
Don’t let an offense hold your emotion at ransom.
• Release the offense and you’re releasing yourself from the torment of bitterness and resentment.
• Let go and you’ll experience freedom and joy. It is a choice you make!
(2) FORGIVENESS CHOOSES TO SEE THE GOOD
If the offence had already taken place, then God has already allowed it. So learn to see the hand of God in it. God always turn it into something good.