HOW TO FORGIVE.
Text: Luke 17:1-4.
Let me appreciate those of us who took last Sunday message seriously by forgiving those who have offended them and some even went ahead to seek forgiveness from those they have offended. I see a new dawn coming your way in Jesus name. While I know, that practicing forgiveness is not an easy thing, I equally know, that is the way the Lord wants us to go. It is our way to healing, restoration and turn around. We have no other option, but to follow it. Nevertheless, we must be sure we do it right. That is why as a follow up to last week’s message, I want to preach on the topic “HOW TO FORGIVE.”I believe this is an area the devil is confusing us and taking advantage of our ignorance. May we have understanding that will liberate us. Amen.
(A) UNDERSTANDING FORGIVENESS.
Let me quickly state few things that forgiveness is not. I believe,
1. Forgiveness is not Normalization of Relationship. It is good to normalize relationship, but you can still forgive without that in-case the offender is not willing to come to the table of restoration.
2. Forgiveness is not Accusation to Clear your Mind. Some believe that until they speak their minds to the offender, they cannot forgive. But you can forgive without accusing the offender.
3. Forgiveness is not Forgetfulness.This is an area many of us miss it. We think to forgive and forget must go to gather. That is not true and we all know it. Some pastors even maintained that if you have not forgotten, if means you have not forgiven using what God said in Isaiah 43:25 to support the view. But picking just a verse to develop a doctrine is not correct.(Isa.43:26-27) God himself said to the people of Israel in Num. 14:22 that the people of Israel had offended Him ten times. Actually, the Hebrew word used for remember in Isa. 43:25 is “zakar” which could also be interpreted “to mark (so as to be recognized), to mention; recount, record or think on. It has nothing to do with your memory. The question is, can you forgive and forget? The answer is yes though it may take a period of time. But the big question is must you forget before you forgive? The answer is no. According to Susanne Eller, “Forgiveness is an intentional act to let go of the burden and restrictions of bitterness, anger, rage or unresolved emotions connected to a person or event. In other words, forgiveness is surrender. It’s offering up resentment. It’s giving up the desire to punish. It’s letting go of anger. It’s getting out of the “debt collection” business.”
4. Forgiveness is not Carelessness nor Allowing the Abuse to Continue. When you forgive, you need not be careless for the abuse to be repeated. If you need to take precautionary measures, there is nothing wrong about that.
( B )STEPS TO FORGIVENESS-Luke 17:1-4.
In our today’s text, Jesus gave us practical steps to take to forgive our offenders. We are admonished to rebuke our brothers when they offend us and if they repent, forgive as many times. No limit to forgiveness. But the question is what if he does not repent? Do you then have reasons not to forgive? Matthew 18:15-17 tells us the need to involve the Church not necessarily for your sake but that your unrepentant brother. If he refuses the Church, let him be like an unbeliever. So how do you forgive an unbeliever? Clear the matter off your heart. You can forgive your offender without his co operation. Jesus did that in Luke 23:34. Forgiveness is an offer, it is meant to be taken. But if it is rejected or neglected, it does not reduce the offer unless it is taken back. Christ maintains that forgiveness is a duty. But what about you being the offender and you know it. Take steps to seek forgiveness. (Matthew. 5:23-24)
Forgiveness is sweet when the offender repents. But don’t be trapped if the devil makes the offender not to repent. Step up and forgive from your heart. The Lord has asked me to ask you today? How many people do you have on your list of unforgiveness. Some even have dead people on their list. Many of us are aware of only one unpardonable sin. But today, let me tell you from my study of the word of God, they are three. 1. Sin/Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit which many of us are aware of.(Matt. 12:31-32) 2. The Sin you refuse to confess. 3.The Sin of Unforgiveness.(Matt.6:14-15) True forgiveness is not reacting again based on the offense. It is not transfering punishments to those surrounding the offender. It is not letting the sun go down on your anger. (Ephe. 4:26) Two good members of a Church at a meeting had a very hot argument as each left the Church in anger. One of them remembering Ephe. 4:26 went to the house of the other man around 6pm knocking at the door of his offended friend who came and opened it, and seeing who it was, became stricken in astonishment and surprised. The other time then cried out, “dear brother, the sun is almost down.” To this unexpected salutation, he responded, “Come in, brother, come in” and that was how the matter was resolved. Let me close with a lesson we learnt last Sunday. The king revisited the case of the servant which he had initially forgiven with a tougher punishment and Jesus said that is how God will act if we fail to forgive. (Matthew 18:34-35) Does it mean God revisits the offenses He has forgiven? I am not sure. But I can say emphatically that unforgiveness is a major factor to many relapses of trials, afflictions, sicknesses and sorrows we see today in Christendom. (John 5:14) So, come out of that web. Don’t be trapped for any reason. Shalom.
Rev. Israel Kristilere.(PhD).