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Forgiveness – Giving and Seeking
April 22, 2012
Forgiveness is essential to obtaining our salvation. God tells us through His son, Jesus, that if we do not forgive those who violate us, who trespass against us, then God will not forgive us our sins. We need to give forgiveness to those who do evil against us, and we should seek the forgiveness of others when we have wronged them.
Forgiveness – Giving and Seeking
by Bernie Parsons
Presented to Load church of Christ on 04-22-2012
Presented to Globe church of Christ on 04-29-2012
Last time, I spoke to you about repentance, or having a change of heart. Today I want to discuss the importance of forgiveness – both giving it, and seeking it.
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He included the following:
Matthew 6:12 "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."
The Greek word translated “forgive” means literally “to send away”. Jesus had more to say on this subject, and Matthew records the following statement:
Matthew 6:14 "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
To forgive means to send away, indicating that we put the matter away from us. It is not just an expression, nor is it an act of pretentious superiority, but the actual release of the matter. We can forgive numerous times, especially when repentance – a change of heart – is involved.
Luke 17:3 "Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
4 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."
Matthew 18:21 "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven."
Yet, forgiveness can be forgiven even when repentance is not present.
Luke 23:33 "And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
Jesus asked His father to forgive those who crucified Him. The martyr, Stephen, also asked that his murderers not be charged with their heinous crime against him.
Acts 7:59 "And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep."
It is important to harbor no bitterness in our hearts, but to put grievous matters from us.
Ephesians 4:31 "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
Colossians 3:12 "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."
The above passages show us that forgiveness is an important component of the totality of living for God. It meshes with the spirit of meekness, humility, kindness, and patience.
In the follow-up to his first letter, in which the apostle Paul urged the rebuke of a brother engaged in incestuous fornication, and upon that man’s repentance, Paul wrote:
2 Corinthians 2:5 "But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.
6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.
7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.
9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.
10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;
11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices."
Once repentance takes place, forgiveness must follow, lest we be snared by the power of Satan. Upon repentance and confession, a faithful God forgives us.
1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Not only must we give forgiveness, we must also, when appropriate, seek forgiveness.
Matthew 5:23 "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
Reconciled here comes from a Greek word meaning thoroughly experiencing change, explained as coming together through meaningful change. This indicates that both parties are amenable to reconciliation, and not just that one insists that the other is in the wrong, and must apologize.
The following passage reinforces the concept of both parties being willing to solve differences. You cannot have peace if only one party desires it, as Jesus explains. One who is not willing to work out problems mutually is not actually a follower of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 18:15 "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."
It is incumbent upon each of us to seek peace as much as lies within our own power.
Romans 12:18 "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
James shows that it is expected that we hold one another in high enough regard and with such respect that we can openly confess our faults to one another, praying for one another.
James 5:16 "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
We see that we forgive our brothers who repent, our enemies who do not repent, and seek reconciliation when both parties are open to such. Otherwise, we make peace as much as lies within us. God forgives us only when we forgive others.