May 13, 2019

Growth Indicator 2 – Forgiveness

Preamble:

Forgiveness is not a choice to a Christian that you can decide to give or withhold. It is a necessity, as important as preaching the gospel. This is because Jesus taught it in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:12). He also re-emphasised that as a parable (Matt. 18:21-35); just because people may forget the sermon but they most likely will remember the story. However, beyond clarifying Peter’s confusion, I believe the essence of giving the parable was for emphasis. In Luk. 17:3-4, we read that “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins [c]against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns [d]to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”

Therefore, issue of forgiveness is so important in the Christian faith forgiveness is a by product of love, which is the foundation of our faith. The level of your growth a child of God, is also measured your ability to forgive.

 

What is Forgiveness?

Forgiveness is giving up the right to hurt back at those who hurt you. Forgiveness is eliminating the negativity that results from hurt by letting go of emotional baggage. It allows you to move on without anger of seeking revenge. It is possible to fake forgiveness; however, this will not stand the test of time.  Genuine forgiveness does not build up a defence. It is pardon with no restrictions, no limitation, no defence and no demands. When have genuinely forgiven, though you still see the scar, but you no longer feels the pain inflicted on your previously. Ability to forgive is one way to demonstrate your strength and growth in the faith. It is not a sign of weakness.

 

What is the standard?

Forgiveness from God is a gift

One of the things Jesus died for is to empower us to forgive. This was His first request on the cross “father forgive them for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34); but it is up to you to use it and walk in it. No human being by himself can pay the debt of sin to God. Therefore, if you have received forgiveness undeservedly, you must also give forgiveness to the underserving. Learnings from the Matt 18:21-35 are very important.

 

Forgiveness is a command

Forgiveness is not a request, it is an instruction from God. Col. 3:13 says, “as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive”. The more of it you give, the more you also receive and vise versa. Forgiveness from God is conditional to our forgiveness to people around us. Unforgiveness blocks the flow of God’s forgiveness into your life. Luke 6:37 says, “forgive, and you will be forgiven”. Matt 6:15 goes on to say, “but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matt. 6:12 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

Let God be the judge in the matter. Don’t take His place. Anytime you are holding on to an issue in un-forgiveness, you are trying to say to God that you don’t trust Him enough to handle to issue.

Forgive everyone requiring forgiveness from you – Your spouse, your parent, neighbour, in-laws, colleagues, and ultimately FORGIVE YOUR YOURSELF! You don’t have to keep carrying the guilt that God has forgiving you around in pain and fear. Trust God’s simple word about forgiving you.

 

What is at stake (if you refuse to forgive)

Your earthly life:

An unforgiven person is considered wicked by God according to Matt. 18:32 where Jesus referred to the unforgiving servant as being wicked. Isaiah 48:22 confirms that there is no peace for the wicked. The peace and joy of the unforgiven come under a siege with impact on his health life. The truth is that unforgiveness keeps you captive of yourself.

Your eternal life:

If you are servicing, giving, praising, but fails to forgive anyone who has hurt you, it is a waste to your spiritual investment. Reading from Heb. 12:14, holiness must be accompanied with the pursuit of peace to have an assurance of heaven.

 

What is the solution (How to forgive genuinely)?

Be the first to take the initiative to reach out/deal with it.

The word of God encourages us in Heb. 12:14 to follow peace with all men. Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness spring up and cause trouble, and by this many become defiled, Heb. 12:15. You have to develop the courage to be the first to reach out for a conversation. Don’t deny and say all is well when nothing at all is well. You must be the first to take the bold step to forgive without demanding apology. If apology comes along the way, consider it as a bonus, but not necessarily a condition for forgiveness.

 

Crucify the flesh, nail the “I” in you to the cross!

Gal. 5:24 “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”. There is a desire in the flesh that constantly demands for revenge to fight back. Stop reviewing and analysing the offence or the bad they have done to you. The real solution comes when you stop magnifying the issue and start magnifying God’s word in your heart. When you stop meditating on the pain but start focusing on the grace of God to forgive and let go!

Gal. 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”. If this is a true description of you, why should you still allow the old nature, the “I” who was dead at salvation to still instigate revenge or unforgiveness in you?

As I conclude this, I encourage you to meditate on Rom. 14:19 “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may [a]edify another”

You are blessed!

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Message by: Pastor Segun Koleoso
Text: Matt. 6:12, 14-15; Matt. 18: 21-35
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