Summary: Steps for forgiving others - may we freely forgive as He has freely forgiven us.
Luke 11:1-4 (NIV)
1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."
2 He said to them, "When you pray, say: "’Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’"
Matthew 6:12 (NIV)
12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
I. Forgiveness – what it is
a. OT - To rise, lift up, to spare, pardon, to take away
b. NT - To send away from oneself, to dismiss, to release or unbind, to willingly in kindness pardon, to cancel a debt
II. How many of us deal with those who have hurt us
i. We go to someone else and tell them how we have been hurt; we share our frustration and anger not looking for a solution – this is gossip.
ii. If you have gossiped, then you need to go to those with whom you have gossiped and ask for forgiveness.
iii. The time that is appropriate to go to someone else about an offense by someone else is for guidance in how to approach and handle the offence, or helping you come to a point of forgiveness.
III. Step in forgiving others
a. Ask the Lord to search your heart and identify those you need to forgive, ask Him to give you the courage to be honest.
b. Write down the names of those who have hurt, disappointed, sinned against you.
c. Write down the names of those who you hold resentment toward.
d. Identify the offenses done to you – be specific.
e. Ask the Father to forgive you for harboring resentment, anger, and un-forgiveness
f. Ask the Father to give you the grace to forgive those you have listed. Ask Him to give you the grace so that you will freely forgive as He has forgiven us.
g. Take the paper with the names and offences and dispose of it in some way, maybe by burning or tearing it up, as it is being disposed of purpose to release the offenses and let them go.
IV. Steps in seeking forgiveness
a. Ask the Lord to reveal to you those who you have offended, hurt, disappointed and sinned against.
b. List the people’s names and the offenses you need to ask forgiveness.
c. Ask the Father to forgive you for the sins you have committed.
d. Ask the Lord to give you the courage to ask the people on your list for forgiveness.
e. Steps in going to the person:
i. Remember, private sins need to be confessed privately, public sins need to be confessed publicly
ii. Say to the person” I have come to you to ask your forgiveness for ____________ (be specific).”
iii. Ask the person, will you please forgive me? And wait for the answer
iv. Ask what do I need to do to make things right? Receive what is said and follow through with making things right with the person.
v. Ask the person if there is anything else that you need to seek forgiveness for.
vi. If the person identifies additional wrongs, then do not be defensive but ask for forgiveness for each of the offenses.
In 1980, Dwayne McKinney, then 21 years old, was convicted of the felony-murder of a Burger King restaurant manager. He only escaped the death penalty because the jury deadlocked during sentencing deliberations. So he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
McKinney served 16 years before another inmate wrote prosecutors telling them that another man, not McKinney, had actually committed the crime. Eventually, the driver of the getaway car testified that McKinney had not been involved.
This new evidence, along with its own investigation, led the Orange County District Attorney’s office, which had prosecuted McKinney, to ask for his release. And on January 28, after 18 years in prison as a wrongly convicted man, McKinney was set free.
As remarkable as the story of his incarceration and release was, what happened next was even more remarkable. McKinney told the LOS ANGELES TIMES that he was not bitter about his ordeal. He said that he even forgave the inmates who kept quiet about his innocence for 16 years.
Forgiveness? Not bitter? How could that be?