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5th May 2013
How many times should you forgive someone who sins against you? Nowhere is the gospel more powerfully demonstrated than in our forgiveness at the cross, and when we respond to this by forgiving others. Forgiveness is counter-cultural as it usually doesn't come naturally. When we forgive, it marks us out!
Forgiveness is about releasing someone from what they did or failed to do and letting go of any feelings of bitterness, anger and revenge towards them. It's a choice, not a feeling. Forgiveness isn't forgetting or tolerating sin. Rather, it is making a decision to leave the person who has offended you with God and trust His wisdom and justice, instead of allowing your life to become wrapped around what has happened.
For Christians, there are three key reasons why we should forgive others. Firstly, God requires it of us – even when Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, forgiving others was a central part of it. Secondly, because we have been forgiven so much by God. The parable in Matthew 18:21-35 is an illustration of the vast debt we have been forgiven.
"We have received mercy so boundless, so extravagant, so lavish, so unmerited, so undeserved, so total, so complete, so unspeakably costly, we should be undone forever." (Irene Brooks)
Forgiveness is not easy. It wasn't easy for the Father to forgive us, and it's not easy for us to forgive others. But to choose to forgive from the heart is to catch a glimpse of the Father's heart and reflect it towards others.
Thirdly, forgiving others is essential to our freedom. Throughout the Bible, how we treat others and how we relate to God are linked. We can't have a sweet relationship with the Father while at the same time spitting bullet with His children.
Unforgiveness imprisons us and opens up an opportunity for Satan. But when we forgive, we find release and liberty – the hold of bitterness and anger is broken and we walk free from what happened. We forgive others because we look to Jesus, not to the person's offence against us. Forgiveness can melt the sinner's heart in a way that bitterness and revenge never can.
Paul mentioned two videos that are powerful examples of Christians forgiving those who have sinned against them. You can watch the videos here: http://vimeo.com/19677132 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iY8iWJ5h5aM.
To download the 'life application' questions and sermon, click here.
Posted by Paul Mann