As we forgive those who sin against us

So, are we up to the challenge? As we forgive those who sin against us.  2 weeks ago we heard how if we only ask, we can have our sins forgiven, that it doesn’t come with a price tag, that it’s unconditional, but in a way there is a condition, that we have to forgive others.  Our price isn’t as great as Jesus’, he had to die so that our sins may be forgiven, but we only have to utter 3 little words “I forgive you”.  Forgiveness here extends to our Church family as much as to our personal acquaintances.  Family forgiveness is as important to building a healthy and happy church as it is to building a healthy and happy home.  As we heard 2 weeks ago, the Jewish word for sin was the same as debt.  In Jewish law every 50 years, any outstanding debts had to be written off.  Any servant sold into slavery to pay off a debt was given his freedom.  There are 3 parables that deal with forgiveness or the lack of it, certainly the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18 v21-35 tells of a servant who was let off a large debt by his master who then tried to enforce a relatively small debt from a fellow servant.  In Ephesians 4 v 32 it says “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you”.

In Luke 7 v36-50 Jesus taught a self righteous and judgmental Pharisee the meaning of true repentance and forgiveness, while the man saw no sin in himself, he was quick to see a great deal of sin in the woman weeping at the feet of Jesus.

A 3rd passage is the familiar story of the prodigal son, the father freely forgave his wayward son, but we must remember that his brother would not forgive and berated his Father.

In Matthew 6 v 14-15 Jesus has added another couple of lines to the Lords prayer. “For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”.  Scary stuff!

However it is important to understand that forgiving others isn’t a reason for God to forgive us, or a device we use to earn forgiveness.  After all forgiveness is a matter of grace and mercy, not law and good works and there is no reason for God to forgive us except His great love for us.

God forgives us for the sake of His son and we must forgive others for the same reason.  In Ephesians 4 v32 it says “If we don’t (forgive), our unforgiving attitude may lead us into further sin”

Forgiveness restores our fellowship with the Lord and with His people.

Forgiving others is not easy, for many it may seem to be impossible, but it is important to remember you are not alone.  Prayer is at the heart of forgiveness.  You must pray first to God for the strength to forgive and for the knowledge of what to say.  It may be that the person who needs your forgiveness is totally oblivious to the hurt they have done, so just saying “I forgive you” will not bring any relief.  Take time to pray to God and ask for His advice.

But remember as Charles Spurgeon (a preacher in the 1880’s) said “Lost years can never be restored literally.  Time once past is gone forever… You cannot have back your time, but there is a strange and wonderful way in which God can give back to you the wasted blessings, the unripened fruit of years over which you mourned.  The fruits of wasted years may yet be yours…  All things are possible to him that believeth”

So don’t put it off any longer, maybe go home today and set some time apart so that you can pray to God.  Maybe take a piece of paper and write down all the things that have happened to you over which you still bear a hurt or a grievance.  Ask God to reveal to you anybody against whom you hold bitterness and put them on the list.  Then ask God to give you the power through His Holy Spirit to help you to forgive.  Go through each name one by one and make a decision to forgive the individuals one at a time.  Try reading Psalm 51 v1-15 out loud.  But most of all be sincere.  If you are ready to forgive, then do it, if it helps tear up the piece of paper or burn it as a symbol of that forgiveness then do.  But remember that is it, having forgiven that person in the sight of God, you can’t carry on bearing a grudge, so make sure you are ready.  What is most important is to know that you are not alone, you have the power of our Lord behind you.

 

This is the prayer from our Re:fresh service:

Dear Lord,

We have all been wronged and offended by others.
Even now we may be remembering these events, recent or not.
These thoughts cloud our hearts and minds and distract us from your way.
Lord help us in our daily lives to forgive.
Help us to forgive others with kindness and compassion,
just as you forgave us through Jesus.
Help us remember that we forgive others because you have forgiven us.

Forgiving Father Help us forgive

To be true to you Lord we know that we must forgive without conditions, those who sin against us.
Help us to be strong in forgiving whatever has happened, and regardless of whether the person is sorry, or even aware of what they have done to us.
This week each day help us to not to be: resentful
help us not to be bitter
help us not to be angry
Lord help us to remember that these reactions turn us away from your light.

Forgiving Father Help us forgive

When we think about how You have forgiven us Lord then we know that we can’t withhold this grace of forgiveness from others.
Lord we have wronged you so much more than any person could wrong us.
If you love and forgive us for so much, then how can we refuse to forgive others for so little?

Forgiving Father Help us forgive

Lord You promise that when we come to you asking for forgiveness You freely give it (1 John 1:9).
Lord help us in our daily lives to forgive others with no limits and no conditions
help us to follow your example of limitless forgiveness (Luke 17:3-4).
In doing this we turn our faces to your light
and we experience the joy of your love more fully every day.

We pray this in the name of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Amen.