D4 – FORGIVENESS
Our God forgives us as we accept His Son. Our obedience brings us to the foot of the cross as we experience the substitutionary death of Jesus (He took our place) and consequently receive forgiveness of our sins. Matt.26:28 Why can’t we forgive each other? We are full of pride rather than humility. We satisfy self instead of being a glory to God. 1 Cor.10:31 We think we can’t be wrong
The teachings of Jesus include so much about forgiveness. It was important to our Savior because that is the reason He came to earth. Lk.19:10 To save us required forgiveness of sins. John the Baptist was to give knowledge of salvation. How? By the forgiveness of sins. Lk.1:77 Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. Heb.9:22 There was no other way. Christ had to die. Lk.22:42
As Jesus gave an example of a prayer to his disciples, He knew they would need to plead for forgiveness. However, he added a stipulation. Matt.6:12 Many know this prayer by memory, but is it said glibly? Do we really pray that God will forgive us as we forgive others? This is a serious question for just how well do we forgive others. Is that what we want? Matt.6:14,15 The answer to this question has the consequences of not receiving forgiveness when we need it—and, yes, we all need it daily. 1 Jhn.1:8-10
Being a new concept from O.T. teaching, the apostles were puzzled. Peter, generally the spokesman, asked how many times they needed to forgive. Matt.18:21 Seven times probably seemed like an enormous number to forgive someone. Jesus’ answer—Matt.18:22 We are not even to keep count of offenses. 1 Cor.13:5 This forgiveness cannot be just in word. It must come from the heart. Matt.18:35 This answer came from the parable of the master forgiving his slave of an enormous sum. The slave turns around and will not forgive a simple debt owed to him and shows no mercy or forgiveness. This can be a picture of our actions.
Jesus led with such an example as He was crucified. Lk.23:34 What an impact that should have on us as we dwell on this thought. Stephen followed Jesus’ example as he was being stoned. Acts 7:60 Paul explained to the Corinthians that they also followed this example. 1 Cor.4:12 We know they suffered great persecution.
As Christians, we are commanded to follow these examples. Rom.12:14; 1 Pet:3:9 Compared to these examples, our “persecutions” are so trivial and yet we find it difficult to forgive. Rewards await us if we follow this pattern of forgiveness. 1 Pet.2:20,21 We don’t go wrong when we follow in the steps of Jesus.
Christians are told to forbear with one another. This means we “put up with”. This comes as an important step in forgiving. We get into a “huff” when we take a word or deed as something against us. We need to show a spirit of forbearance as we forgive the person. Col.3:13 It takes a great effort on our part sometimes. Eph.4:2,3 However, we must remember that we do answer for our words. Matt.12:36 Usually words come before our deeds. Col.3:17 Love must prevail as we forbear. 1 Jhn.3:18
What are the characteristics of a forgiving heart? In addition to forbearance a forgiving heart will show mercy. One who is merciful will show pity and understanding. It may be undeserved. Mercy has the quality of compassion. Those that are merciful will obtain mercy from God. Matt.5:7 Showing mercy to an offender in forgiveness does not come grudgingly. It comes with cheerfulness. Rom.12:8 God is rich in mercy and we are to be Godlike. Eph.2:4 A beautiful picture of a Christian heart is found in Jam.3:17. This picture includes mercy. If we truly show mercy, we will show forgiveness. Lk.6:36
It would be very difficult to forgive if our heart does not contain love. Probably the most difficult to forgive would be our enemy and yet Jesus says to love them. Matt.5:43,44 Isn’t that what Jesus did when He asked God to forgive those crucifying Him. Perhaps our love could be called “cheap” love if we love only those who return it. Lk.6:32
Are we ever guilty of thinking, “I’ll forgive them but I will never forget.” In other words you are going to forever hold a grudge against them. Then “I’ll forgive them” are just empty words that falsely make us feel good.
What is a grudge? It is a feeling of ill-will against someone and holding something against them. This word is used in connection with Herodias when she wanted John the Baptist killed. Mk.6:19 Holding a grudge is not a characteristic of a Christian spirit. Always compare your suffering to that of our Lord. No comparison!
As a summary of forgiveness then, God forgives as we come in repentance and obedience. Jesus died for us that we might have forgiveness. We are commanded to forgive others to receive forgiveness for our sins. Eph.4:32 It is no longer about self for as we became Christians we died to self and now our life is hidden with Christ in God. Col.3:3