Summary: God gives us the grace to forgive others
A childhood accident caused poet Elizabeth Barrett to lead a life of semi-invalidism before she married Robert Browning in 1846. There's more to the story. In her youth, Elizabeth had been watched over by her tyrannical father. When she and Robert were married, their wedding was held in secret because of her father's disapproval. After the wedding the Brownings sailed for Italy, where they lived for the rest of their lives. But even though her parents had disowned her, Elizabeth never gave up on the relationship. Almost weekly she wrote them letters. Not once did they reply. After 10 years, she received a large box in the mail. Inside, Elizabeth found all of her letters; not one had been opened! Today those letters are among the most beautiful in classical English literature. Had her parents only read a few of them, their relationship with Elizabeth might have been restored.
Daily Walk, May 30, 1992.
Forgiveness is an act of grace. The unwillingness to forgive robs people of the grace they so desperately need. The harboring of hurt and the unwillingness to forgive only makes the pain multiplied.
What is grace?
Grace is undeserved blessing from God given to people.
In essence, grace is getting what you need rather than what you deserve. Grace is the active expression of God’s love for humanity. Grace is what every person desperately needs and what every heart secretly longs for. Often we fail to understand the depth of grace and gain from its embrace.
Four Facets of Grace to Understand
Grace to Live
Grace to Forgive
Grace to face your Past
Grace to face the Future
Last week we talked about the reality that grace gives us life.
Grace gives us a life here on earth that is full and abundant. Grace gives us a life for eternity with Jesus.
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Luke 23:34
The Greek word for forgive has many different meanings and applies to many different situations but in the interest of time I want to focus on three that directly apply to this passage. The first meaning is to let go, let alone or to let be. The second meaning is to give up or to keep no longer. The third meaning is to disregard.
This means that everything that God has the right to hold against you, He lets go of when He forgives you. It means that God keeps those things that you have confessed against you no longer. Not only does God let go of what you’ve done but He also disregards it and no longer remembers it. This is what it means to experience the forgiveness of God the Father.
If you only forgive when someone asks, you completely miss the point Jesus is making. Forgiveness is an act of personal will. It is a choice and you make the choice to be either forgiving or unforgiving.
Four Reasons to extend forgiveness even when not asked
1.) The person may not know they wronged you or what the problem is
2.) The person may no longer have contact with you
3.) The situation continues to hurt you until you let it go
4.) You open yourself for further sin – anger, bitterness and resentment
The Greek word that Jesus uses in Matthew is aphiemi. This word has three major implications.
• To let alone or to disregard
• To let go – to keep no longer
• To leave – to go away from
The forgiveness that Jesus gives to us and wants us to give to others means several things. When forgiveness is given the matter is no longer held against the person. The situation is no longer remembered in a negative light. The person doing the forgiving is set free from the hurt and the pain.
Forgiveness is an experience of grace
Forgiveness is the radical concept that God would no longer view us as strangers but as sons and daughters. Forgiveness opens the doors of heaven to humanity and gives us a glimpse of character of Christ. Forgiveness is only available through a personal experience with the risen savior.
Forgiveness is an expression of grace
Without grace forgiveness would be impossible. Grace makes it possible to discover God’s forgiveness and it makes it possible for people to forgive. Grace moves when we are forgiven by God and grace moves again when we extend forgiveness to others. We will never be able to extend forgiveness to others until we fully embrace the grace of God.
Grace moves us to a genuine forgiveness from Christ. Being forgiven allows us to experience the grace of God and empowered by grace. The power of grace moves us to extend forgiveness to others. Becoming more like Jesus and growing in grace means that we must be willing to forgive.