“I Will Be A Forgiving Person”
Have any of you ever been wronged or hurt by someone? If you have you know first hand how easy it could be to stay angry and to grow bitter to a person. God definitely understands what it is like to be hurt and wronged. I believe that there are many Christians who for some reason refuse to let go of grudges that they may have against another person. Throughout the course of your life you can expect to be wronged from time to time by others. We cannot hold onto that anger and bitterness. We must forgive. Whenever we sin and mess up and then come to God in sincere repentance we expect God to forgive us, don’t we? The easy thing to do is to stay angry. We do, however, have a choice in how we will react when we are wronged. We can either choose bitterness or forgiveness.
There are many misconceptions about what Biblical forgiveness really is. Many people’s ideas of forgiveness have been shaped by the world and not by the Word; therefore there is a grave danger that many Christians are unfairly holding onto anger that they should have let go of.
Here are a few examples that I have heard people say:
“ I will forgive, but not forget.”
This is the worst misconception that I hear people say more than any other. Many people say they will forgive, but they make sure that people know that they will not ever forget! We are told to forgive, as we want to be forgiven, and the Scriptures tell us that not only does God remove our sins, but also he forgets them and he remembers them no longer. How would we like God to tell us upon our repentance that he will forgive, but not forget? I understand that we are human and we cannot help but to remember certain things and it is not easy to put events out of our minds, but we must do our best to treat people we say we forgive as if the wrong never happened, for that is exactly what God does with us. After you tell someone you forgive them and you do not let go of you anger and bitterness you are the one sinning now even if they were initially wrong.
2. The second example I have heard is:
“I have A right to be mad.”
Many people think that they have the right to be mad and to stay mad. I have especially heard this when someone really feels they have been greatly wronged. There may be no doubt that what someone did may have hurt or been wrong.
3. The third example some people say is:
“Things will never be the same.”
I have heard other people say I will forgive, but things will never be the same. There is one problem with that, the purpose of forgiveness is not just overlooking someone’s faults, but it is restoring a relationship back to the way it was before the wrong took place, it is reconciliation. This is exactly what God does with us, not only does he forgive us of our sins, but he restores our relationship to the way it was intended to be. As a matter of fact, after we wronged God and after we received His forgiveness we are placed in a better relationship than before. Some trust may have been lost. We cannot hold their wrongs over the heads and use their mistakes against them. If a person comes to you and asks you forgiveness for what they have done, we have a duty to attempt to restore that relationship that may have been damaged.
This parable that Jesus told began with a question by Peter. He asked, “How many times should I forgive a person who sins against me? Up to seven times? We may think the question was a little funny, but the thing is Peter thought he was being generous with the possibility of forgiving up to seven times. The rabbis during this time taught that you would forgive up to three times, so Peter’s suggestion of seven times was very generous for that society. Jesus though had something to say about that. He was not trying to give a limit of how many times we should forgive, but was saying that we always need to forgive.
Why is it an absolute necessity to forgive one another?
Because We Have Been Forgiven
The parable that Jesus told was rich in it’s teaching. One servant Jesus told of was brought before the king. This servant owed 10,000 talents. If this is referring to the Greek talent, the total would be somewhere in the neighborhood of seven to eight million dollars that the servant owed. The master forgave him of his great debt. That servant then went out and saw one who owed him about 100 denarii, which was a total of less than twenty dollars. He had the man put into prison for the small debt that he owed. Then when the king learned of this he was not happy because he expected that the servant should be willing to show mercy to someone else since he was shown mercy. The same should be said of us, shouldn’t it? What right do we have to hold onto anger and to hold a grudge since we have been forgiven we too should forgive others who wrong us.
The longer you harbor bad feelings in your heart the harder it is to remove them from your heart and the more hardhearted a person becomes. Some people respond by ignoring a wrong. Though this may not create the hardness of heart and the bitter feelings, I do not believe that God expects us to be doormats or to simply ignore it when someone wrongs us or sins against us. Before this whole discussion began in Matthew 18 that we have read Jesus gave his disciples some simple instructions for how to handle a problem of someone wronging them. (Last Sunday’s gospel – have a private conversation with your brother.)
Did you notice the detailed instructions? Jesus did not say ignore it; he called them to confront it and deal with the problem. An ignored problem only hides itself temporarily as is sure to resurface. He instructed them to go straight to the source of the problem and deal with it so that reconciliation could take place. Therefore, how will you respond when you are wronged? There is a necessity on our part to forgive those who wrong us.
II. The Example of Forgiveness
It almost goes without saying that Jesus is the best example of forgiveness. He not only preached it, but he also lived a life of forgiveness. Some of his last words before his death were for the Father to forgive those who were crucifying him. In all things Christ is our perfect example.
III. The Danger of Un-Forgiveness
When you read of this parable you think, how ridiculous that this man who had just had a debt removed would refuse to do the same on a lesser level with someone else. This is exactly what we do when we refuse to forgive and hold onto bitterness and a grudge. We sometimes fail to realize how greatly we wronged God and what we deserve. The forgiveness that is shown to us is so great, however, if we do not forgive we will not be forgiven.
I believe that many people are carrying around burdens upon themselves that they do not need to carry. People are bearing spiritual and emotional burdens that Jesus offers to relieve. People also are carrying around the burden of anger and bitterness that they simple should let go of. I can tell you from experience and many can validate that bitterness is a burden. When you are angry or bitter at someone you are carrying around an awful burden that is going to hurt you in every way. We are called to run the race with perseverance, but it is hard to run a race held down by a great burden. We are called to carry our cross daily, but it is hard to carry a cross when we are bogged down with bitterness and make ourselves carry that. Sadly many people put down their cross in order to carry anger and bitterness. It takes more effort to stay mad than it does to forgive. It is amazing how much time and energy one can spend nursing bitterness towards someone, and the longer we hold onto it the stronger it gets and the harder it becomes to forgive. Many people are carrying an unnecessary burden around in the sin of un-forgiveness.
Un-forgiveness can hinder you relationships with other people. We learn in Scripture that not only is God concerned with our relationship with him he wants and expects us to be in a good relationship with others.
This week let us make this our priority: Strive to remove any pockets of bitterness that is harbored in our hearts and work to reconcile our differences to repair and rebuild our relationships.