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Summary: Jesus teaches us to forgive. This is important because (1) forgiveness releases us from bondage, (2) gives us the freedom to grow, and (3) leaves room for God’s work.

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We have a forgiving God. We receive His forgiveness purely on GRACE. We pay no penance; we did no work to justify forgiveness. In fact, we cannot promise we will always stay RIGHT. We are forgiven because of Christ.

We forgive because we have been forgiven.

So what does these verses mean? Matt 6:14-15

14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Forgiveness is a matter of grace. If we persist in an unforgiving attitude towards others, we cannot fully experience God’s forgiveness for us. In order words, we are putting ourselves on the ground of condemnation, always feeling guilty, unworthy... How do I know? Because your unforgiving spirit is a sign that you have not fully receive forgiveness from God.

Remember the parable we read last month - Luke 7:41-43

41 "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" 43 Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."

"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.

Verse 47 "But He who has been forgiven little loves little."

If you’ve been forgiven, you’ll love much. You’ll be able by His grace, forgive others. If you can’t, then in actual fact, the Father has not forgiven you. If God has forgiven you (and you fully comprehend that), then you won’t be like that. If the Father has forgiven you, you’ll be very loving...

That’s why Jesus said - Matt 5:23-24

23 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer you

How can you be right with God when you’ve this grudge against a fellow brother?

How can I say "I love God and yet hates his brother? (1 John 4:20 says, he is a liar.)

20 If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

God’s forgiveness comes to those who are forgiving... If you’re not forgiving, He has not forgiven you. If you do not love, He has not loved you...

Saying: "One who will not forgive cannot receive forgiveness; mercy flows through the same channel, whether being given or received."

When you withhold forgiveness, you hurt the other person, but you hurt yourself more - much more! But when you forgive, you release peace and restoration to the forgiven - and also to yourself.

1. FORGIVENESS RELEASES YOU FROM BONDAGE

Forgiveness is not getting even, but releasing the charge.

In his book, Lee: The Last Years, Charles Flood writes about an incident that happened after the American Civil War. Brigadier General Robert E. Lee, The son of Revolutionary War hero, visited a woman from Kentucky after the War She took him to the remains of a huge, grand old tree in front of her house.

She stood there and wept - bitterly crying that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed the Federal artillery fire from the north. She looked to Lee, expecting him to say something condemning about the north or at least sympathizing with her loss.

After just a short silence, Lee said: "Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it." It is better to forgive the injustices of the past than to allow them to remain, let bitterness take root and poison the rest of our life.

We are nursing the grudges, bitterness if we refuse to forgive and it will eventually corrupt us. We become victims of bitterness.

• Chinese proverb: “Whoever opts for revenge should dig two graves.”

• “…not forgiving someone is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”

Jesus says, in Luke 17:3-4

"If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, `I repent,’ forgive him."

Paul says, Col 3:13

13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

2. FORGIVENESS GIVES YOU THE FREEDOM TO GROW

In order words, it gives us room to make mistakes. No one is perfect and there will be times when we need to say, ‘Sorry’, probably many times. When mistakes or wrongs are committed, it need not be the end of the world for us, or the end of a relationship.

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