We’re in a four-week series, talking about our “one anothers.” For week three, we’re addressing forgiveness…of others and for ourselves.
We’ve all been hurt by others and we all have hurt others. That’s why we all need forgiveness. Paul wrote that we are to “…forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13 NIV)
The local church is only as healthy as it’s “one anothers.”
Forgiveness means “let go, to release, to give up!” The opposite of forgiveness is to “hold an offense.” An offense is something we grab on to and are not willing to let go.
So how do we let got and forgive others? Here are three important steps towards forgiveness. Admit our own need for forgiveness.
We need forgiveness too! The Bible warns us that “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us…” (1 John 1:8).
When we pray in the Lord’s prayer, “Forgive us our debts…” we are admitting that we need God’s forgiveness just like everyone else (Matt 6:12).
It is interesting that the word “confess” in the Greek means to “agree with.” When we confess our sins we are saying to God, “You are right, I have done wrong and blown it.” So confess your sin. Admit them. By the way, you are not going to shock God – He already knows.
- Accept God’s forgiveness.
It is not enough to admit our sin, we also need to accept God’s forgiveness.
Remember, in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, when the servant’s master took pity on him, canceled his debt and he let him go. He was “let go” of around twelve million dollars of debt in today’s dollars. He never could have paid it back (Matthew 18:21-35). But that’s nothing compared to how much God has forgiven us. In fact, it cost Christ, his life in order for us to be forgiven.
In Romans 8:1 it promises this: “…there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1) That word “no” is the strongest negative in the Greek language — it means “no, never, nada, not ever!”
Any time you find somebody really judgmental, critical, and unloving, they are almost always dealing with unresolved guilt. Count on it! Without God’s forgiveness, we take it out on everyone else! When we feel unforgiven we tend to be unforgiving. However, when we know and experience God’s forgiveness, we are in the place where we can begin to forgive others.
- Commit to forgiving others.
Plan on it! Every day we need to make a willful decision that we will forgive others. When you forgive, you release the problem into God’s hands. In forgiveness, you let God deal with the offense.
One day a guy came to John Wesley and said, “I can never forgive that man!” Wesley said, “Then I hope you never sin.” Why? Because forgiveness is a two-way street.
Remember the Lord’s prayer goes on to say, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Do you realize what you’re praying when you pray that? “God, I want you to forgive me as much as I forgive everybody else.” We cannot receive what we’re unwilling to give. If we want forgiveness we have to give it. Every single day.
Before you go…
Forgiveness is the hallmark of Christianity. It should be our lifestyle. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7) We receive it and we give it. We enjoy it and we employ it. We accept it and we offer it. It is what being a Christian is all about. So who do you need to forgive today?