Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. -Colossians 3:13-14
Before I start today, I want to ask you a question.
Do you find it easy to forgive?
Most of us would like to say yes- that we forgive others when they offend us or hurt us.
But do we really? We might have some great stories in our past about how we were able to forgive a past abuser or something horrible that someone had done.
But is forgiveness part of our daily walk?
Forgiveness is not a one time act.
Insert coin- receive peace.
It is an ongoing heart condition.
And forgiveness is tied so closely to grace in the Bible that at some points they can almost define one another.
If we want to minister to other people, we need to be in a constant, purposeful state of forgiveness.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you. This is the phrase I want you to focus on today. How did the Lord forgive us? Did he forgive all our big sins but keep stewing over the petty, little annoying stuff?
Does he hold those sins over our head, or on a list somewhere that he can pull out and use against us?
Of course the answer is no!
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
In Matthew 18, Jesus had to explain to Peter exactly how we should forgive as the Lord forgave us.
You are probably familiar with the parable of the unmerciful servant. He owes his master money- and he can’t pay. The master says, “hey, no problem. You don’t have to pay me back.”
The servant had offended his master by not paying him what he owed him. This is a picture of our standing with God. God forgives us our debt of offenses because we are in Christ. All of them- no payment required on our part.
But then what does the silly servant do?
He walks outside and finds the first guy that owes him something. The first sucker who had offended him- and he chokes him out!
What a character! Can you even imagine?
Oh wait- you mean that Jesus was saying that the guy who gets all pro-wrestler on someone was illustrating us?
Bingo! Jesus puts in nicer than I can:
Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?
This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.
To forgive as the Lord forgave requires us to practice it often and completely.
We need to remember how much we have been forgiven and apply that liberally to those around us.
Remember your huge debt full of ugly, dirty sins and secrets that God just *poof* forgave?
And how many times have you offended others? I know I have been annoying, offensive, abrasive, and downright mean at times. How much forgiveness do I deserve?
Now think about that in light of the one thing someone did to you. It seems kind of petty in comparison huh? Small coins.
Forgiving Those That Offend Us
It’s easy to say you can forgive others- quite another matter to actually practice a lifestyle of forgiveness.
And sometimes it is those little things- those small coins- that irritate us the most. They become our point of contention with a person and we can’t seem to have a joyful spirit towards them.
Whenever the person enters our mind, our immediate reaction is bitter or judgmental.
Mark 11:25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
If I have something against someone I need to search my heart and see whether I am holding back forgiveness and mercy.
To forgive means to:
- cease blame and resentment
- grant pardon from a mistake or wrongdoing
- to free someone from punishment or revenge
- to free someone from obligation or repayment
- to renounce anger towards a person
Really, all these things (blame, resentment, revenge, repayment, anger) reside inside YOU. The other person may not even be aware of your unwillingness to forgive them.
You have control over whether these things sit and fester inside you, growing and living off your thoughts.
So forgiveness is not only a choice, it is an application of the spirit-fruits of patience, kindness, love, and self-control.
I need to forgive others in the same manner and with the same quantity that God forgives me.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
In what ways do you struggle with forgiveness? I would love to hear your thoughts!