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Summary: Learning to forgive

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THE PRINCIPLES OF FORGIVENESS

LUKE 11:4

I. INTRODUCTION

WE LIVE IN A SOCIETY THAT REQUIRES US TO LIVE BY CERTAIN PRINCIPLES. PRINCIPLES ARE PUT INTO PLACE IN ORDER THAT STANDARDS AND RULES MAY BE MAINTAINED. HOWEVER, MY BROTHERS AND MY SISTERS I HAVE DISCOVERED THAT SOMETIMES THE PRINCIPLES ARE NOT ADHERED TO AS THEY SHOULD BE. THE GOVERNMENT IS FOUNDED ON PRINCIPLES WHICH DECLARE THAT ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL, BUT ALL MEN ARE NOT TREATED EQUAL. THE LAWS OF THIS COUNTRY ARE PRAGMATICALLY DESIGNED TO ENSURE THAT JUSTICE IS MEASURED AND METED OUT WITH FAIRNESS, IN THAT ALL MEN ARE INNOCENT TILL PROVEN GUILTY, BUT SOMETIMES THE PRINCIPLES GET TWISTED AND LADY JUSTICE IS GUILTY OF PEEKING THROUGH THE BLIND FOLD, AND CONSEQUENTLY THE SCALES AND THE PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE DON’T TILT IN THE DIRECTION OF THE POOR OR THE INNOCENT. YES MY BROTHERS AND SISTER, WE LIVE IN A WORLD GOVERNED BY PRINCIPLES. WHILE PRINCIPLES ARE NEEDED, THERE IS ANOTHER PRINCIPLE THAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED, AND THAT IS THE PRINCIPLE OF FORGIVENESS. YES, FORGIVENESS. WE SAY WE DO, BUT THEN WE DON’T. WE SAY WE WILL, BUT THEN WE WON’T. AS CHRISTIANS, WE MUST ADHERE TO THE BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES OF FORGIVENESS.

II. THE TEXT

JESUS, AS WAS HIS CUSTOM, HAD BEEN ENGULFED WITH PRAYER. AS HE FINISHED HIS PRAYER, ONE OF HIS DISCIPLES MADE WHAT MIGHT SEEM LIKE AN UNUSUAL REQUEST IN THAT HE ASKED JESUS TO TEACH THEM HOW TO PRAY. IT WAS A HEBREW TRADITION THAT THE RABBIS TAUGHT THEIR STUDENTS THE PRINCIPLES OF PRAYER. THEY WERE CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR PRAYER LIFE. MY BROTHERS AND MY SISTERS, WE SHOULD BE VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THE METHOD IN WHICH WE PRAY. THERE ARE SOME PRINCIPLES THAT APPLY TO PRAYER THAT MAY BE THE DIFFERENCE IN HAVING OUR PRAYERS ANSWERED OR HINDERED. I HAVE DISCOVERED THAT WE LIVE IN AN AGE WHERE PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO BE TAUGHT OR TOLD THAT THEY DON’T KNOW HOW TO PRAY FROM A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE.

JESUS GAVE THEM A MODEL IN WHICH THEY COULD PRAY. THIS PRAYER IS FILLED WITH SEVERAL FRUITFUL PETITIONS, BUT THE ONE PETITION THAT IS OFTEN OVERLOOKED IS THE BIBLICAL PRINCIPLE CONCERNING FORGIVENESS. THE WORD FORGIVE APPEARS 56 TIMES IN 48 VERSES, WHICH IMPLIES THAT IT IS SOMETHING OF GREAT VALUE AND SIGNIFICANCE.

IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT WE NOTICE THE WAY THIS WORD IS SITUATED WITHIN THE TEXT. IT IS BOTH PRESENT AND FUTURE. LORD FORGIVE ME IN THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE WHEN I SIN AGAINST YOU, OR MY BROTHER OR MY SISTER. THERE ARE THOSE WHO ARE INDEBTED TO US BY SIN, MEANING THAT THEY HAVE DONE SOMETHING TO OFFEND US, AND WE MUST BE WILLING TO FORGIVE THEM.

THE REASON THAT THIS PRINCIPLE IS VITAL IS THAT IF WE DO NOT FORGIVE OTHERS, GOD WILL NOT FORGIVE US. MATT. 6:14-15 TEACH, “FOR IF YE FORGIVE MEN THEIR TRESPASSES, YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER WILL ALSO FORGIVE YOU: BUT IF YE FORGIVE NOT MEN THEIR TRESPASSES, NEITHER WILL YOUR FATHER FORGIVE YOUR TRESPASSES.” JUST AS WE ARE INDEBTED TO OTHERS, AND OTHERS ARE INDEBTED TO US, ALL OF US ARE INDEBTED TO GOD. THE PERSON THAT IS UNFORGIVING, IS NOT READY TO RECEIVE THE FORGIVENESS OF GOD.

MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS, YOU’D BE SURPRISED AT THE NUMBER OF INDIVIDUALS WHO THINK THAT GOD IS SHOWING FAVOR TO THEIR PRAYERS, AND THEY HAVE YET TO FORGIVE OTHERS. YOU’D BE SURPRISED AT THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO THINK THAT GOD IS HEARING THEIR PRAYERS, BUT THEY HAVE YET TO ASK HIM FOR FORGIVENESS.

III. WHAT IT MEANS TO FORGIVE

IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT WHEN WE PRAY, WE ASK GOD TO FORGIVE US. I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT SOME EMPTY WORDS THAT WE SAY JUST TO SAY THAT WE HAVE ASKED FOR FORGIVENESS, BUT DEEP DOWN, SOUL STIRRING SINCERITY. WHEN WE ASK GOD TO FORGIVE US, THAT IS INDICATIVE OF THE FACT THAT WE RECOGNIZE THAT WE HAVE WRONGED HIM, AND WE WANT TO BE RECONCILED AGAIN.

WHEN WE FORGIVE OTHERS, WE ARE SAYING I WON’T HOLD WHAT YOU DID AGAINST ME OVER YOUR HEAD. IF WE SAY THAT WE HAVE FORGIVEN SOMEONE, THEN WHEN WE SEE THEM, OUR BLOOD BEGINS TO BOIL, IT IS A GOOD CHANCE THAT WE HAVE NOT FORGIVEN THEM. FORGIVING SOMEONE DOES NOT MEAN THAT WE BECOME FOOLISH, FICKLE, AND FRETFUL, BUT IT DOES MEAN THAT WE ARE FAITHFULLY DISCHARGING OUR DUTY TO OUR FELLOWMAN.

WHEN WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO HAVE WRONGED US, IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT WE FORGET THE OFFENSE, BUT IT DOES MEAN THAT IF FOR SOME REASON THEY KEEP OFFENDING US, IF THEY ASK FORGIVENESS IN SINCERITY, WE ARE OBLIGATED TO FORGIVE THEM. SOME OF US WOULD SAY, ”NOW I HAVE FORGIVEN YOU ONCE, DON’T ASK ME AGAIN.” LUKE 17:3-4 TEACH, “TAKE HEED TO YOURSELVES: IF THY BROTHER TRESPASS AGAINST THEE, REBUKE HIM; AND IF HE REPENT, FORGIVE HIM. AND IF HE TRESPASS AGAINST THEE SEVEN TIMES IN A DAY, AND SEVEN TIMES IN A DAY TURN AGAIN TO THEE, SAYING, I REPENT; THOU SHALT FORGIVE HIM.”

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