Summary: The basic steps to forgiving--we must forgive perfectly as Christ forgave us.
Based On: The Keys to Forgiving by Lewis B. Smedes, Christianity Today, December 3, 2001.
a. Discuss that we all have something in our past that we have either forgiven or that requires forgiveness. Use personal experiences to amplify.
b. Jesus was explicit on the point of forgiveness: As his followers, we are required to forgive those who sin against us. Read Matt. 6:12-15.
c. A readiness to forgive others is part of the witness or testimony that we have truly repented. To forgive is to be whole-hearted. It springs from Christ’s forgiveness of us, and it is to be like Christ’s forgiveness
Read Col. 3:13—Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
d. But what if you don’t feel like you’ve forgiven? How do you know, then, if you have truly forgiven? The Holy Spirit, often enables people to forgive even though they are not sure how they did it.
e. Forgiving, and knowing that you’ve truly forgiven, comes easier when you understand the basic process of forgiving.
1. Forgiveness is a redemptive process to having been wronged and wounded.
a. Forgiveness is reserved for those who have wronged and wounded us. If they injure us accidentally, we usually excuse them.
b. We forgive only those to whom blame has been assigned.
c. Redemption means deliverance from some evil by payment of a price. In this case we are redeemed or delivered by paying the price of letting go of the urge to hurt in kind.
2. Forgiveness requires three basic steps.
a. THE HARDEST PART—Step 1: we surrender the right to get even.
· Every victim is positive the victimizer deserves so suffer as much as they made us suffer, but that isn’t true.
Read Rom. 6:23—For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
· The blood of Christ covers all of our sins, but we must each interface with God to experience His forgiveness. So by forgiving, we place the outcome of the matter in God’s hands and often choose to live with the scales unbalanced.
b. Step 2: We rediscover the humanity of the wrongdoer.
· When we have been badly injured and clearly wronged, we make an instant mental picture of the person who did it to us. We define them totally by the wrong they did to us. EXPOUND!
· When we forgive, we rediscover that the person who wronged us is a complex, weak, confused, fragile person, not all that different from us.
· This is what God does. Our sin essentially made us invisible to him. But, forgiven and covered by the blood of Jesus, we stand out before him much like the Invisible Man in the movies became visible when he was wrapped in clothing.
c. THE SECOND HARDEST PART—Step 3: We wish our wrongdoer well.
· We not only surrender the right to take revenge, but we also desire good things to happen to or for them. We bless them.
— When viewed from the OT viewpoint, the content of ‘blessing’ included such goods as vitality, health, longevity, fertility, and numerous progeny.
— NT viewpoint: Eulogeo (ευλογέω ), the word from which we get the word eulogy, is speak well of and to cause to prosper, to make happy, to bestow blessings on.
· Is this unnatural? Is it too much to ask of us? Perhaps.
· Yet, this is how God forgives us. He not only surrenders his right to see us punished, He graces us with whatever blessing is right for us.
Justice - When you get what you deserve
Mercy - When you don’t get what you deserve
Grace - When you get what you don’t deserve
GRACE—God’s redemption at Christ’s expense
3. Forgiving takes time.
· God can forgive in a single breath. We, on the other hand, need time.
· Corrie ten Boom once told of being able to forget a wrong that had been done to her. She had forgiven the person, but she kept rehashing the incident and so couldn’t sleep. Finally, she cried out to God for help in putting the problem to rest. She wrote this about the incident:
"His help came in the form of a kindly Lutheran pastor, to whom I confessed my failure after two sleepless weeks." "Up in the church tower," he said, nodding out the window, "is a bell which is rung by pulling on a rope. But you know what? After the sexton lets go of the rope, the bell keeps on swinging. First ding, then dong. Slower and slower until there’s a final dong and it stops. I believe the same thing is true of forgiveness. When we forgive, we take our hand off the rope. But if we’ve been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we mustn’t be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while. They’re just the ding-dongs of the old bell slowing down." "And so it proved to be. There were a few more midnight reverberations, a couple of dings when the subject came up in my conversations, but the force—which was my willingness in the matter—had gone out of them. They came less and less often and at the last stopped altogether: we can trust God not only above our emotions, but also above our thoughts."