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This touching base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community.
On Sunday January 24th, Rhonda and I talked about the issue of forgiveness -- our forgiveness towards those that sin against us. We focused in on how forgiveness is a “gift” God has placed in our hands to have a healthy soul, and healthy relationships.
How can forgiveness be a “hot topic”? Why is this not an easy topic for some? How have you misused it? How have you seen others misuse it?
There were three points we developed to show how forgiveness is a great gift.
A. Forgiveness is key in maintaining a healthy heart in a life that can, at times, beat you up.
I don’t think anyone would disagree that life can beat a person up. Life has a way of wounding us all and bouncing us around. If we are to maintain, or work towards, a healthy core (heart) we must make sure we use the gift God has given to us. Read through Matthew 18:15-35 and take special note of the radical statement Jesus makes in verse 22.
Notice the first scenario v. 15-20.
We talked on Sunday how the victim seeking reconciliation (where possible) has already entered into the forgiveness process. How would this reconciliation process be hindered if the victim seeking to reconcile was not working through forgiveness? Imagine them seeking reconciliation with a toxic, jaded attitude.
Notice the second scenario that sandwiches the radical statement, v.23-35.
Where can an unforgiving heart lead a person? Note v.32 – “wicked” can mean diseased and sick.
Now note the radical statement in v. 22. How does this statement influence our understanding of the two scenarios?
Here are some of the points about forgiveness that come out of this text and which we made on Sunday. Discuss, develop and add your own.
Jesus’ command for us to forgive was typical of all His commands, which were meant for our protection and health and the good of the extended Body of Christ. Many studies have been done which prove that bitterness and unforgiveness literally poison the body and that conversely, forgiveness and extending of grace is life-giving and disease-inhibiting.
- Jesus asks us to forgive 70 x7 because He knows there will be an infinite number of times we will be beat up in this life. Every offense needs to be addressed with a forgiving heart.
- Forgiveness does not mean convincing yourself that the offence of the other person was okay (v.15-20 illustrates that). There is accountability.
- Forgiveness is a choice. It is a choice we will need to make 70 x7 times. Jesus didn’t say we will feel like it 70 x 7 times.
- Forgiveness is choosing to let God be the one who exacts justice. There is a biblical way of dealing with offenses (15-20) But sometimes this process is impossible to follow and we must trust God with justice. We may not see it in this life.
B. Forgiveness is key to contributing to healthy relationships
Paul said to exercise forgiveness in relationships because he knew that “stuff” would come between people that would pollute and distort the human heart and compromise the relationship. (Col 3:13, Eph 4:32) The term “forgiveness” literally means to send away, remove, to cover.
Forgiveness in human relationships, while not on the same grand scale as God’s forgiveness, still has the same effect of sending something away. What are the various toxins that need to be “sent away” in human relationships? How does forgiveness facilitate that process?
Read Leviticus 16:21-22- This is great imagery in the Day of Atonement for how sin is sent away. What would you need to put on that goat that is damaging a current relationship?
Discuss these two statements.
“Forgiveness involves choosing to let go of bitterness, revenge, anger and judgment. This is the stuff disease is made of. If God is real and powerful, then surely He has the ability to take these toxic emotions from our hearts and replace it with peace, love and grace if we ask Him.”
“Forgiveness sometimes involves forgiving ourselves and applying the same principles to ourselves as we do for others.”
C. Forgiveness is essential in maintaining a healthy walk with God
Check out Matthew 6:14-15. This serves as an appendage to the Lord’s Prayer. On Sunday we talked about how this is not talking about losing ones salvation. God is clearly referred to as our Father and if you read the larger context it is very clear that these people are considered children of God. This has more to do with God’s discipline of His children. These verses are essentially saying that we cannot carry on business as usual with unforgiveness in our hearts. When we withhold forgiveness, we hinder our relationship with God. God, in
His love for us and wisdom, does not let us get away with it. He withholds forgiveness until we wake up to the grim realities of withholding forgiveness toward others.
Note: Only God has the right to withhold forgiveness. We are never instructed in Scripture to withhold forgiveness to teach those we love a lesson, or to withhold forgiveness until there is repentance.
Do you think God is setting a double standard?
Thought to ponder: If we withhold forgiveness until someone repents, then we are letting that person shape and determine the health of our relationship with God.
How much of one’s spiritual stagnation may have to do with unforgiveness issues?
Rhonda and I strongly believe that forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts God has placed in our hands to use. It is our prayer that you will use it 70 x 7! Stay healthy!