1. In this series we have seen how The Way Of Christ is...
a. The way to God c. The way to truth e. The way of joy g. The way of unity
b. The way to life d. The way of love f. The way of peace h. The way of prayer
2. The Way Of Christ is also the way of forgiveness...
a. When Jesus taught how to pray, He stressed the need to forgive
b. Time and again, by precept and example, Jesus taught forgiveness
3. What does it mean to forgive...?
a. The Greek word is aphiemi
b. Literally: to send away, to give up, keep no longer - Thayer
c. To give up resentment against or the desire to punish; stop being angry with; pardon - Webster
[Let’s first look more closely at why The Way of Christ is...]
I. THE WAY OF FORGIVENESS
A. TAUGHT BY PRECEPT...
1. By Jesus, in His sayings
a. Teaching on prayer - Mt 6:14-15; Mk 11:25-26
b. Instructing His disciples - Mt 18:21-22; Lk 17:3-4
c. The parable of the unforgiving servant - Mt 18:23-35
2. By Paul, in his epistles
a. To the Ephesians - Ep 4:32
b. To the Colossians - Col 3:13
-- For those forgiven or seeking forgiveness, forgiving others is necessary!
B. TAUGHT BY EXAMPLE...
1. By Jesus, as He was being crucified
a. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” - Lk 23:34
b. In calling upon God to forgive, Jesus showed His willingness to forgive
2. By Stephen, as he was being stoned
a. “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” - Ac 7:60
b. In calling upon Jesus to forgive, Stephen showed His willingness to forgive
-- Our Lord and His first martyr exemplify the spirit of forgiveness!
[The Way Of Christ is the way of forgiveness. But forgiving others is not human nature: “To err is
human, but to forgive is divine” (Alexander Pope). How can we be partakers of this divine nature..?]
II. THE PRACTICE OF FORGIVENESS
A. DEVELOPING FORGIVENESS...
Mark A. Copeland
The Way Of Christ 24
1. It helps to remember why we must forgive:
a. We cannot be forgiven by God unless we forgive others - Mt 6:14-15
b. The unforgiving person will be punished without mercy! - Mt 18:35; Jm 2:13
c. Vengeance belongs to God, not us; our duty is to show mercy - Ro 12:19-21
2. It helps to remember as we try to forgive:
a. Sins against us pale in comparison to our sins against God - Mt 18:23-34
b. We are called to follow the example of Christ - Ep 4:32; 5:1-2
c. Those who injure us need sympathy and love, which we owe them - Ro 13:8
3. It helps to remember practical reasons to forgive (from the Mayo Clinic website):
a. Healthier relationships
b. Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
c. Less stress and hostility
d. Lower blood pressure
e. Fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety and chronic pain
f. Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse
-- The spirit and willingness to forgive increases as we grow in Christ
B. EXPRESSING FORGIVENESS...
1. We should forgive when others ask for it
a. Whenever a brother repents - Lk 17:3
b. Whenever a brother says “I repent” - Lk 17:4
2. Can we forgive those who have not asked for it, or repented?
a. It is true that God requires repentance before forgiveness - Ac 2:38; 3:19; 17:30
b. But we are not God; God is the only true Judge - Jm 4:11-12
c. God is perfect, He knows the hearts of men; we are prone to misread and misjudge
d. Ultimately it is God who forgives the guilt of sin; we can only give up grudges
e. Harboring grudges hurts ourselves, making us embittered (“judges with grudges”)
f. We are to forgive as we pray, not necessarily wait until one repents - Mk 11:25-26
g. Jesus and Stephen forgave others who had yet to repent - Lk 23:34; Ac 7:60
3. What about, “I’ll forgive, but not forget”?
a. “I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive.
Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note - torn in two, and burned up, so that it never
can be shown against one.” - Henry Ward Beecher
b. Forgiveness is the letting go of resentment; remembering is not letting go!
-- Knowing my own imperfections, I prefer to err on the side of being too forgiving
1. We have considered why it is important to forgive others...
a. To receive forgiveness from God
b. To follow the example of Christ and His early disciples
2. This simply confirms what we studied previously...
a. The Way Of Christ is the way to life, love, joy, and peace
b. A path where forgiveness is both received and extended by those who are on it
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him,
that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not
forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” - Mk 11:25-26