As we Forgive

We have all been hurt by people in our experiences, and if this is not true for you, then it is only a matter of time until somebody hurts you. It is just life, and it is evidence of the fallen human nature within all of us. At times, it may seem impossible to forgive them for the pain they’ve caused; but as Christians, we are called to forgive them as God forgave us through Christ.

The central message of the Gospel is one of forgiveness, and yet there are many Christians who harbour bitterness and grudges, resentment and even hatred towards those who have offended, hurt or wronged them.

In today’s Sermon, entitled “AS WE FORGIVE …”

I want to look at the Nature of Forgiveness, Gods Standard for Forgiveness, the effects of Unforgiveness, and how to Overcome

an Unforgiving Spirit. While most Christians in the English speaking world, regularly use the term, or word “unforgiveness” the more accurate word in English is “unforgivingness” but for the purpose of my sermon, I shall use the shorter more commonly used term.

(After all this is not an English Lesson)

So then, let us consider in the first place, …

The Nature of Forgiveness

True forgiveness is about giving up all “rights” to retaliate against the person who has wronged you, and letting God handle it. Followers of Jesus Christ should not try to make people pay for the wrong that has been done against them.

Unforgiveness is a wilful choice to hold on to hurt, anger, and hostility. In essence, we are denying the cross, which was the ultimate sacrifice for all sin and wrongdoing. When our Blessed Lord Jesus hung on the Cross at Calvary with blood pouring from his body, the spittle of the soldiers on his cheeks, the mocking of the bystanders in his ears, the crown of thorns on his brow, and the ache of the nails in his hands and feet, he said in the middle of it all – “Father forgive them …”! If in all of that pain, HE could forgive, why can’t we? If then as professing followers of Jesus we are unwilling to do the same, then we actually deny His sacrifice as being sufficient for all wrong-doing?

Many fail to understand that Refusing to Forgive is a sin. Such folk will say in words that they have forgiven those who hurt them, but usually their actions deny such words. The Bible makes it very clear just how God views the unforgiving spirit and the uncharitable hostility that usually accompanies it.

Consider for a moment what I am calling, …

God’s Standard for Forgiveness

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus shows us the importance of forgiving (Matt 6:12). “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” or “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” … Its the same thing, and it is a most serious statement of the standard God demands. Jesus went on to say “if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you”! (Matt 6:14)

When the Lord told Peter that he should forgive 70 times 7, He didn’t literally mean we should forgive someone up to 490 times.

He was not suggesting that we make a tally or count of such forgiving grace, and on the 491st time, we throw such grace away? What Jesus meant is that we should not keep count. The Bible shows us that God the Father will deal strictly with those who do not show forgiveness to people who wrong them.

My dear friends, I know how hard it is to forgive and forget, indeed I recon that the forgiving is often more easy

than the forgetting? Yet if we haven’t forgotten, it is likely that we haven’t forgiven? Unforgivness is an enemy, and as many Christians have proved to their regret, it can be, if entertained at all, a very powerful enemy. Is there is an unforgiving spirit lurking in the recesses of your memory, and if so then you may be surprised at what I am going to say next.

Let me share with you some of …

The Effects of Unforgiveness

First of all – it will have an impact on our whole personality.

It can rob us of the “peace” of God that rests on our lives.

It will effect our relationships with others.

The bitterness caused by unforgivingness will result in others not wanting to be around us. We may become impatient, intolerant and even spiteful. We may lose many of those who we value as friends. Often unforgivness shows us up in our true colours. It reveals the “other side” – the fallen side of our nature, the old man, the carnal man, the empty man. For such unforgivingness quenches the work of the Holy Spirit, and it is a grief to our Saviour. God cannot flow through a man or woman who has a blocked up channel, and nothing blocks the channel of grace like bitterness and resentment fuelled by an unforgiving spirit. It will also have a destructive effect

on our health and general well-being.—Bitterness can lead to heightened stress in our lives. It may impact not only our mental health, but our physical health as well, as with increased blood pressure. The stress levels will impact our hearts, our digestive system and all our healthy bodily functions. It can result in skin rashes and related external evidences, it can even produce the poisons in our bodies that can lead to cancerous tumours. I know about these things and have made exhaustive studies of most psychosomatic conditions over the last 30 years of Pastoral Counselling and Therapy.

From my experience I have concluded that the vast majority of Cancer Patients in hospitals today, are there because of stress related conditions.

But there is an even greater tragedy associated with the unforgiving Spirit, it is the impact it has on our spiritual life and our relationship with God. Bitterness and anger will hinder our prayers, and we will know that such praying is only reaching the ceiling, and not Heaven. It will rob us of any of our joy and peace in the time of worship, and we will remain sour faced and distant from the “joy unspeakable and full of glory”. Time spent in the Word of God, the Bible, will be limited and may be even neglected and pushed to one side. We will have no appetite for the things of the Holy Spirit, for He is quenched and grieved and we will know it!

We may fool most of the people some of the time, and some of the people most of the time, but we cannot fool all of the people all of the time… and we certainly cannot fool God.

So then, with all of these negative consequences of Unforgiveness, what can we do, what does the Bible say about

Overcoming Unforgiveness?

For that we need to turn to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in Chapter four, and verses 26-32. Let me read what Paul says:

26 “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

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, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Eph 4: 26-32

The first thing I notice here is that there is a place given to “anger” for Paul says “be angry, and sin not” but the only way to be angry and not sin, is to be angry at nothing but sin!

Any other sort of anger is sin and in that regard the apostle

Paul says that we should not go to bed (any night) angry …

let not the sun go down upon your wrath:”

That doesn’t mean that it’s alright to be angry during daylight as long as we repent by nightfall. Rather, it is speaking of this righteous type of anger. We are never to let it rest. Don’t ever put it to bed, but keep yourself stirred up against evil and the things of the devil.

The key to distinguishing between a righteous anger and a carnal anger is to discern our motives and the object of our anger. Godly anger should be directed at the devil with no consideration of self. But if we are angry with people, it’s carnal

and if our motivation is self-serving, then it’s wrong.

One thing that will keep you from proper rest and sleep is an unforgiving attitude, and an unsurrendered temper. You will need to get on your knees before God, acknowledge that you have an unforgiving spirit. Identify the person or persons you haven’t forgiven. and Surrender your unforgiveness to God.

The apostle Paul adds:

“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, tender-hearted, forgiving one another,

even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you”.

Ask God to give you a tender heart towards those who have hurt you. God wants the Holy Spirit to be able to create in you and me -“HIS” heart, and “HIS” nature, and when this happens, … with God’s help, you can forgive any wrong that has been done to you.

It is very interesting to note that the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith after He spoke about forgiveness. Luke 17:5

They had observed all of the wonderful miracles Jesus performed and yet these never inspired them to ask for greater faith. Truly, walking in love and forgiveness with each other takes as

much faith as any miracle we will ever believe for.

The basis of forgiveness is the love and mercy of God. It is only because God first loved and forgave us that we can also love and forgive others. If we are not walking in the forgiveness of God,

we won’t minister it to others. Have you ever thought about the fact that God forgave us (in Christ) long before we had

repented or asked for forgiveness? The gift was given more than 2000 years ago. The scriptures admonish us to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. God offered His forgiveness towards us while we were yet sinners. Therefore, forgiveness was offered to all unconditionally. But only those who receive the offered forgiveness through repentance and faith are received as

sons of God.

Likewise, we are to forgive others their trespasses, just as God has forgiven us our trespasses. We forgive whether or not the other person repents or wants our forgiveness. But we cannot restore such a person to complete relationship until there is repentance on their part. Failure to distinguish between
forgiveness and restoration with their different conditions, has caused some people to make themselves vulnerable to unscrupulous people and suffer tragic results. In marriage, we should forgive our mate for anything, even for adultery.

But if there is no true repentance on our mate’s part, it would be foolish to trust him or her in a sexually tempting situation. We should forgive a business partner for stealing from us whether or not he repents, but that doesn’t mean we ought to put ourselves in a position to let him do it again.

Complete restoration is dependent upon repentance.

Jesus always urges us to Walk in forgiveness. In Mark 11:25, He says; “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have

ought against any: that your Father also which is in

heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

There are qualifications for believing and receiving as well as restrictions for receiving answers to prayer. Unforgiveness in our hearts will keep our prayers from being answered!
We should forgive others as quickly as it takes to make the decision to pray. The Greek word for “when” here, means “whenever, as soon as, or while.” When we stand praying, we must forgive if we have ought {“anything at all, the least little part; whatsoever”} against anyone.

When we are offended or hurt, we often feel justified in

holding a grudge. Some Christians still do, and will cite the

Old Testament Scriptures to justify this? The Old Testament law expressed this when it stated, “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth” (Ex. 21:23-25). Until the offence was paid, we did not feel free to forgive. However, God dealt with all men’s offences by placing sin upon the perfect Saviour who was judged in place of every sinner of all time. To demand that others must earn our forgiveness is not Christ-like. Jesus died for every man’s sins, extending forgiveness to us all while we were yet sinners, – and we should do the same.
It is doubtful that a person who refuses to forgive has

ever experienced forgiveness for themselves?

This is comparable to the servant that Jesus talked about in Matthew 18:23-35. He was forgiven a great debt …lets say about £3 million and yet he refused to forgive his fellow servant who owed him just about £30.00. The forgiveness that we have received from the Lord is infinitely greater than any forgiveness we will ever be asked to extend to others.

Freely forgive as you have been freely forgiven.

Unforgiveness can be a lethal landmine in our lives if we don’t allow God to take care of the wrongs that are done to us.

We must be sure to forgive those who hurt us and leave

the rest to God, no matter what the situation.

Now this Final Word

The story is told of a farmer who owned an old donkey. The donkey fell into the farmer’s well. The farmer heard the donkey ‘braying’ – or – whatever mules do when they fall into wells. After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the donkey, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbours together and told them what had happened…and enlisted them to help him haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.

Initially, the donkey was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbours continued shovelling and the dirt hit his back…a thought struck him. It suddenly dawned on the donkey that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back…


This he did, blow after blow.

“Shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up!” he repeated to encourage himself.

No matter how painful the blows, or distressing the situation seemed, the old mule fought “panic” and just kept right on


You’re right! It wasn’t long before the donkey, battered and exhausted, STEPPED TRIUMPHANTLY OVER THE WALL OF THAT WELL! What had seemed like it would bury him, actually blessed him … all because of the manner in which

he handled his adversity.

THAT’S LIFE! If we face our problems and respond to them positively, and refuse to give in to panic, bitterness, or self-pity … THE ADVERSITIES THAT COME ALONG TO BURY US USUALLY HAVE WITHIN THEM THE POTENTIAL TO BENEFIT AND BLESS US!

Remember that FORGIVENESS–FAITH–PRAYER– PRAISE and HOPE … all are excellent ways to “SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP” out of the wells in which we find ourselves!

So get out of your pit today and forgive those who have caused you hurt, for Jesus sake: Amen.