Summary: According to Jesus we are expected to forgive others.

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How Do I Forgive Others?

Matthew 18:21-35

Today we are continuing our series which is about forgiveness, by talking about the difficult subject of—how can we forgive others?

I suspect that the majority of you are familiar with the section of scripture we call the Lord’s Prayer. It’s found in Matthew 6 and it’s also found in Luke 11. Most of us recited it from memory a while ago. I just wanted to point out a couple of things that are included in that scripture and as a group prayer.

It starts out with Our Father, I like that part a lot. It reinforces the Christian belief that we are more than just a creation of God, we are children of God. So I really like that.

Then we hear one of those old sounding words, hallowed, hallowed be thy name. What does that word mean to us? As a definition, it means holy, consecrated, sacred or revered. It is a word queue reminding us that Our father is Holy, and well above us in standing.

That is sort of an odd combination isn’t it? Father and yet holy, perhaps it should not be as foreign as it seems between our children and ourselves….But hat is a sermon for another day.

One last element that I want you to notice, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

I don’t know about you but, I often find the words of Jesus so condemning to my since of right and wrong. To the way I want to deal with situations and especially certain people. In that example of prayer offered by Jesus to his disciples, He sets the example of asking for forgiveness of for trespasses…for our sins and connects the way God forgives us to the way that we forgive others.

Why is giving forgiveness so hard? I mean its one thing to ask God to forgive us. And that’s what we talked about a couple of weeks ago at Easter. Last week we talked about forgiving ourselves because sometimes even though we know God has forgiven us, we have a hard time forgiving ourselves, but then today, we are talking about one of the most difficult issues of forgiveness and that is—how do you forgive others?

I think that we have such a hard time forgiving others because we don’t really know what forgiving others really is. Let’s start by stating what forgiving other isn’t before we try to answer the how question.

First of all, forgiving others is not justifying other people’s actions. If you have been harmed in the past, if you need to forgive someone, you don’t have to say what they did was OK because…. They were under a lot of stress, or pressure or that they had a bad home life, or any other excuse and an attempt to help us forgive this other person. Forgiving others is not finding a justification or an excuse for another person’s bad behavior, attitude or sinful nature.

Second, forgiving others is not trusting that the passing of time will make things better.

I have heard it said that “time heals all wounds.” Let me just say that I think that is just a big fat lie. The passing of time is just that. It does not change the condition or the emotional pain that may quiet down fro a while only waiting for some small catalyst to bring it to life again. I don’t know about you but, I have a couple of things from over 10 years ago that come back to life whenever I hear a certain person’s name. The passing of time does NOT bring about healing. Time in it self does not make things better, time just passes so time will not help you to really forgive anyone.

Third, forgiving others does not mean that we deny being hurt. It is not saying – Oh, it did not really matter. I did not notice. It did not affect me. If you are a guy, you are really good at this. For some reason, guys love to deny being hurt, they are tough, rugged. A guy has an attitude that nobody is going to hurt us. Somebody punches you in the arm, you might say, you call that a punch, I hardly felt it. We will walk out of sight before we flinch or react to the pain.

When some one hurts you it is like getting a splinter in your finger. You know what that is like don you? It just looks like a little dot just under the skin. If you leave it there your body reacts doesn’t it. It festers and swells. It irritates and if unattended it can hurt your whole hand and in extreme cases threaten you whole body.

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