Forgiveness - Introduction
July 22, 2021
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22).
Matthew 18:21-35 is one of several places in the Gospels where our Lord teaches on the subject of forgiveness. The word ‘forgive’ means to lay aside, leave, let go, omit, put away, suffer, or yield up. While we may intellectually, even emotionally understand the meaning of the word, it is often very difficult for people to exercise true forgiveness. Scripture states:
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13).
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven (Luke 6:37).
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins (Mark 11:25).
Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends (Proverbs 17:9).
We have heard the more popular thoughts of individuals regarding forgiveness. Some are noteworthy:
“When a deep injury is done to us, we never heal until we forgive” (Nelson Mandela).
“As long as you don’t forgive, who and whatever it is will occupy a rent-free space in your mind” (Isabelle Holland).
“To err is human; to forgive, divine” (Alexander Pope).
“There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love” (Anonymous).
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude” (Martin Luther King, Jr.).
“Forgiving you is my gift to you. Moving on is my gift to myself” (Anonymous).
We will spend some time on the topic of forgiveness because (1) Jesus did, (2) we need to truly understand it, (3) we need to lovingly express it, and (4) we need to humbly accept it for ourselves.
“Thank You, Father in heaven, that You have loved us with an infinite love that cannot be taken away from us. Thank You that you have demonstrated Your love toward us in that while we were sinners, Jesus Christ died for us to forgive us our sins, restore fellowship with You, and guarantee us a place in Your heavenly kingdom. May we demonstrate that same kind of love toward each other. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”