Forgiving One Another
Text: Col 3:13
A. Forgiveness is Christ-like.
Some find it hard to forgive because others have treated them unfairly.
God forgives readily even though He gets nothing but evil in return. a. God forgives us when we sin against Him (Psa 86:5). b. Christ forgave even His enemies who crucified Him (Luk 23:34).
Just as God forgives us readily, we should forgive one another readily. a. We are to forgive others just as God forgives us (Eph 4:32). b. We are to forgive others just as Christ forgives us (Col 3:13).
Forgiveness benefits the forgiver as much as, if not more, than the forgiven. a. “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” (Lewis B. Smedes) b. Illustration: Saul’s hatred for David caused him much mental stress and anguish but David had peace because he forgave Saul readily.
B. Forgiveness is conditional.
Some find it hard to forgive because others did not offer any apology.
God forgives those who repent and ask for His forgiveness. a. God’s forgiveness of those who crucified Jesus was conditional upon their repentance (Act 2:36-38). b. God’s forgiveness of His people is conditional upon their repentance and confession of sins (2Ch 7:14; 1Jo 1:9).
Just as God’s forgiveness is conditional upon the sinner’s repentance, our forgiveness of others is conditional upon their repentance. a. The onus is on the offended to actively seek the offender’s repentance, instead of passively waiting for his repentance (Mat 18:15). b. If the offender repents, the offended has an obligation to forgive the offence (Luk 17:3-4).
Forgiveness, properly practiced, results in peace and harmony in the church. a. “Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.” (Marianne Williamson) b. Illustration: Paul rebuked the Corinthian church for bringing brethren to court over perceived wrongs, instead of resolving within the church.
C. Forgiveness is compulsory.
Some find it hard to forgive because others are undeserving of their forgiveness.
God only forgives those who forgive others, much as all are undeserving of His forgiveness. a. The merciful shall obtain mercy (Mat 5:7). b. The unforgiving shall not obtain forgiveness (Mat 6:14-15; Jas 2:13).
The condition of one who is unwilling to forgive but continues to harbour hatred towards a brother. a. He is in darkness (1Jo 2:9-11). b. He is a murderer (1Jo 3:14-15). c. He is a liar (1Jo 4:20-21). d. He is of the devil (Joh 8:44).
Forgiveness is what we need but not what we deserve. a. “He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven.” (Thomas Fuller) b. Illustration: The parable of the unforgiving servant illustrates the debt of forgiveness we owe to our heavenly Father, which will not be pardoned unless we are willing to forgive our brethren.
D. Forgiveness is complete.
Some find it hard to forgive because they continue to remember the offence.
God forgives totally and eternally. a. God’s mercy is as high as heaven from earth and He removes our sins from us as far as east from west (Psa 103:11-12). b. God casts our sins into the depths of the sea (Mic 7:18-19).
Just as God forgives completely, we should forgive without bearing grudges. a. One who has forgiven will not do evil to those whom he forgives (Rom 12:19-21). b. One who has forgiven will not harbour evil towards those whom he forgives (Eph 4:31-32).
Forgiveness, properly practiced, results in love and goodwill in the church. a. “You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.” (Lewis B. Smedes) b. llustration: Joseph demonstrated his forgiveness of his brothers in sorrowing with them, comforting them and treating them kindly.