Summary: One of the most difficult things to do seems to be to forgive. God requires it of us because HE is forgiving.
At a convention with their wives, two businessmen who had been roommates in college crossed paths. They sat in the lobby all night talking. They knew they would be in trouble with their wives. The next day they happened to see each other. "What did your wife think?"
"I walked in the door and my wife got historical."
"Don’t you mean hysterical?”
"No, historical. She told me everything I ever did wrong."
Have you ever met those people, the ones who seem to rehash the past forever? The ones who seem to live in their memories more than in the present? The ones who can’t seem to get past some issue, some hang-up, some roadblock in their past? As if they are still chained to something years ago.
The ancient Sages of Israel said that there were 4 groups of people for whom it would have been better if they had never been born; Those who dwell on things Above (heaven – people who think so much of heaven they are of no earthly good); Below (hell/grave/afterlife, etc.); Before (only think of future); and Behind (live in past)
God offers and commands forgiveness
He can because he has already paved the way
Yeshua (Jesus) is the author/pioneer of our faith
Two Questions about Forgiveness:
I. Is Forgiveness an Obligation or Opportunity? (YES)
A. Obligation – If I want forgiveness, I must Forgive
1. Law of Sowing and Reaping
2. A man named General Oglethorpe once said to John Wesley: “I never forgive and I never forget.” To which Wesley replied: “Then, sir, I hope that you never sin.”
3. Matthew 6.14-15
1. To Be Like God –
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3.12-13
20But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4.20-24
a. Extravagant in Forgiveness
b. Doing more than the minimum - Rabbis – 3 times/Peter 7 times/Yeshua(Jesus) – 70 times seven or 77 times
1) Lamech – Genesis 4.23-24
23Lamech said to his wives:
"Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for striking me.
24 If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold,
then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold."
2) Forgive beyond revenge
Mitsuo Fuchida was one of the pilots who bombed Pearl Harbor. This man took part in many of the major battles in the Pacific. He was there on the deck of the USS Missouri at the surrender ceremonies. Though defeated, he was pleased with his behavior as a pilot. After the war, though, he became disillusioned. He was surprised to learn that Japanese POWs were treated humanely—a sharp contrast to the Japanese treatment of Allied prisoners. He also learned of a woman who ministered to the Japanese prisoners. Her parents were missionaries to Japan but had been beheaded by his countrymen. She had forgiven the Japanese and met the needs of their captured soldiers. Such love led him to the Bible. He eventually became a Christian, and later an evangelist. Before his death in 1976, he led many to Christ through his preaching in Japan and the United States. Transformation started when one woman chose to forgive like Christ. (Illustration 340 in Something to Think About; edited by Raymond McHenry)
- Consider the following two words of wisdom: “Whoever opts for revenge should dig two graves.” (Chinese proverb)
2. To Appreciate Our Forgiveness
a. We can forget
b. Forgiving is a constant reminder
3. To Remember that No One Has Suffered more Abuse than God
Adam & Eve; Cain & Abel; People of Noah’s day; our day (2 Peter 3.9-10)
9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
II. Does Forgiveness Bring Freedom or Slavery?
Old Joe was dying. For years he’d been at odds with Bill, formerly one of his best friends. Wanting to straighten things out, he sent word for Bill to come and see him.