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Summary: How to move toward forgiving those who have hurt you the most over the years.

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Forgiveness is hard. When somebody does

something that cuts our heart or damages our

feelings, it’s difficult to forgive.

But the difficulty of forgiveness is exponentially

harder when the person we are trying to forgive has

been in our life for years. A father or a mother, a

brother or a sister, a spouse or a child - when they

have acted in ways that are hurtful (not just one

time, but day after day for so long), how are

we to find the ability to forgive?

Paul Thigpen writes in Discipleship Journal of his

struggles to forgive his Dad of the years of hurtful

things that he had done. This morning, I have taken

our passage, adapted and applied the things that

Paul speaks of going through, and added some

additional ideas in order to deal with this important

issue: Making Peace With The People In Your

Past.

Paul Thigpen’s words for our outline and I have added my comments:

1. “I identified my father’s specific offenses.”

Rather than broadly stating that “Dad never liked

me,” Paul made a list of the specific hurtful things

his Dad had done over the years. This is a difficult

process, of course, to bring up many of those old,

painful memories, but it is necessary to understand

what you are forgiving.

What if that list is incredibly long? Is there a point

at which you are no longer required to forgive

because of the multitude of offenses? Vv. 21-22

indicate to us the answer.

2. “I confessed my own sins to God.”

Paul acknowledged that he had not been the perfect

child and that he had at times contributed to the

problems with his own attitude and rebellion.

Vv. 23-27 (especially v. 27) are important for us on

this point as we remember than any amount we

forgive someone is not nearly as great as the amount

that God has forgiven us.

3. “I asked God to show me my parents the way He

saw them.”

Vv. 28-30 speak of the servant having no pity for

the plight of his fellow servant. Often in our lives,

rather than seeing a broken and damaged person

(just like us), we see only someone who has hurt us.

As we begin to see the reasons God had pity and

compassion on them, perhaps we can begin to see

that person in a new way.

For Paul, it was thinking of a story his grandmother

had told him of his Dad selling firewood on the

street corner in the winter’s cold - a weary,

frightened young boy doing what he could to

support his poor family (that was not being supported well by his alcoholic father). That image helped Paul

see past the gruff, tough image he had of his Dad.

4. “I counted the cost of failure to forgive.”

Three price tags for our refusal to forgive:

a. bitterness in our hearts.

b. a burden on our backs as we carry our

unforgiveness.

c. disobedience to God (see vv. 34-35).

5. “I let go of my father’s offenses and canceled his

debt.”

Paul went down the list of specific offenses and

chose to forgive/let go/cancel each one. Although the process is difficult, this is not optional for

the Christian. V. 35 makes it very clear that this is

what God asks of us, even when the list is very

long.

It is, ultimately, the only way to find peace with the

people in our past.


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