Why Forgiveness Matters

This week we are finishing up memorizing the Lord’s prayer (Matthew  6:12-13) at Do Not Depart. Last week we focused on God's faithfulness to provide our daily bread. This week our focus turns to forgiveness, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."
 
Ray Pritchard exclaimed, “You are never more like Jesus than when you forgive those who have sinned against you.”

 Corrie Ten Boom's amazing story of forgiveness 

Why? Because extending  forgiveness to those who have wronged us is a very merciful thing to do, and Jesus is full of mercy! His abundant mercy is described well throughout Psalm 103:
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. (Psalm 103:8)

 Psalm 103:11-12 expresses just how high and wide is God’s mercy toward us.

How high: For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
How wide: As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Guarding Yourself from Unforgiveness

Please understand, forgiveness is not agreeing with a person's sin. It is simply releasing a person from their sins against you, just as God in His grace has released you from your sins against Him. To forgive anyone, we must trust God. Perhaps this is why so many people who reject the Lord balk at forgiveness. 

Forgiveness is a trust issue. It says "I trust that the Lord is executing righteousness and justice for me. He is not withholding good from me. His plans for me are for good and not for evil, to give me hope and a future. And all the while He is working this to good.

Unforgiveness says, "I'm afraid God's idea of justice for my situation will look different than the way I want this to turn out. I fear God is not going to deal with this person according to what their sins deserve, so I better take it upon myself to bring about justice. I'm not going to excuse their sin by forgiving them. They don't deserve it!" Regardless if a person deserves forgiveness, we are to forgive them. Easy to do? Not at all. But through Christ we can do all things (Phil. 4:13)--even forgive the unforgivable, like Corrie Ten Boom did. 

Jesus modeled this high standard of forgiveness in Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Freely We Have Received

We are so blessed that God does not deal with us according to our sins, or punish us according to our iniquities. (Psalm 103:10) In His great love, He is like the king in Matthew 18:23 who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  When a particular servant owed to the king more than he could ever repay, that servant begged the king to be patient with him. The king had compassion on the man and forgave his debt completely. (Matthew 18:24-27)

Like God, the king did not deal with the servant according to his sins, or punish the servant according to his iniquities. I imagine overjoyed doesn’t begin to describe the joyful relief that servant felt after having his debt wiped clean. Ironically though, despite the amazing gift of forgiveness this servant received, the Bible reports, “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.” (Matthew 18:28-30) Amazing!


May we guard ourselves from bitterness, being quick to extend to others the same grace and forgiveness that we’ve so joyfully received from our King. (Lamentations 3:22) Freely we have received. Let's now pour out that grace and mercy to others that God so freely gives us. (Matthew 10:8).


Questions for you: What are your tips for guarding against or overcoming bitterness, so that you are unhindered when forgiveness needs to be extended to others? What do you find to be the most difficult part about forgiveness?

 

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 Copyright © 2013 Brooke Espinoza.

32 comments:

  1. I vent to my heavenly Father to guard against bitterness. That's the easy part. Than i pray for the person that hurt me. I typically just want to withdraw from the relationship or the situation. You are right. it is about trusting God to handle the situation for me. Over from WFMW.

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    1. Great strategies for guarding against bitterness, Kimberly! "I vent to my heavenly Father to guard against bitterness. That's the easy part. Than I pray for the person that hurt me." What a comfort it is to go to God and be able to put all my hurts in His all loving and capable hands. God bless you immensely!

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  2. Thank you for this post. I have been struggling with forgiving someone who has wronged not just me but my entire family and while I do know that I have to forgive them I have not been able to do it. Thank you so much for these words,
    "Unforgiveness says, "I'm afraid God's idea of justice for my situation will look different than the way I want this to turn out. I fear God is not going to deal with this person according to what their sins deserve, so I better take it upon myself to bring about justice. I'm not going to excuse their sin by forgiving them. They don't deserve it!" Regardless if a person deserves forgiveness, we are to forgive them. Easy to do? Not at all. But through Christ we can do all things (Phil. 4:13)--even forgive the unforgivable, like Corrie Ten Boom did."
    They spoke directly to my heart!

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    1. So glad this spoke to your heart, Melissa! God is so faithful! God bless you immeasurably!

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  3. The only way I can find to overcome unforgiveness is to cry out, relentlessly, to the Lord God begging for His help in this matter. I can't, but He can forgive through me, I've seen it many times during my 32 years walk with Him. He alone is able sometimes for sure. Saw your link at Prowess and Pearls, thanks for sharing with us.
    Hugs ~ Mary

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    1. Amen, Mary! "The only way I can find to overcome unforgiveness is to cry out, relentlessly, to the Lord God begging for His help in this matter." I love this. Beautiful! God bless you greatly!

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  4. Freely we have received....we can do no less than give back. Thank you!

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    1. Well said, Nannette! Freely we have received....we can do no less than give back." So very true! God bless you richly!

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  5. Praise God for His mercy and grace!

    Thanks for linking up with Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday!

    Blessings~
    Jenifer

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    1. Amen, Jenifer! "Praise God for His mercy and grace!" Where would we be without them? God is so good! God bless you extraordinarily!

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  6. Your blog is an inspiration and a gift from God.

    Blessings tou you!

    Sue

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    1. Thank you, Sue, for you sweet words! So glad you were blessed! God bless you tremendously!

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  7. I wouldn't necessarily say I have tips on it, but I would say that without Christ, I probably wouldn't do it as freely as I do now! The way of the world is vengeance and payback, condemnation being the right of everyone wronged. While on the surface, that may seem healthy and "fair," it really is unhealthy and idolizing self. Yet, we can't give what we don't receive. Grace - it covers. Forgiveness - it releases. I dealt with this fiercely just last week. I was so hurt, but the forgiveness came faster than it ever has. I know for a fact it wasn't that easy on my own. With God... Oh I just love the freedom that comes with it.

    I could go on and on. :) Thank you for sharing, Brooke! Have a wonderful rest of your week, darlin!

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    1. Falen, you've described it so beautifully! And you're absolutely right. It is "idolizing self." I loved this too, "Grace - it covers. Forgiveness - it releases." So true! God bless you significantly!

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  8. Another encouraging post, Brooke! Love these thoughts on forgiveness and how it goes back to trusting the Lord more. Forgiving is one of the hardest things we do, but also one of the most beneficial, not only to the other person, but for ourselves as well.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! I totally agree, "Forgiving is one of the hardest things we do, but also one of the most beneficial, not only to the other person, but for ourselves as well." There are so many ways we are blessed we we forgive others. On the flip side, I've heard of the effects of bitterness (or unforgiveness) likened to poison. "Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for your enemy to die." Perhaps God built the benefits of forgiveness to go both ways, knowing forgiveness would be hard for us to give, so we'd be motivated to make the hard choice to forgive and avoid the poisonous consequences of unforgiveness. God bless you immeasurably!

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  9. I try to remind myself that the person didn't sin against *me*. Yes, hurt and betrayal may be one of the after effects of others choices but ultimately people's bad choices are about them and their relationship with God. (Psalm 51:4)

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    1. Great point, Alecia! "Ultimately people's bad choices are about them and their relationship with God.(Psalm 51:4)" God bless you immensely!

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  10. Thanks for this encouragement!! It is so easy to become bitter and harbor resentment against someone, but God calls us to forgive just like He forgave us! Wise words!!

    Pinned it! Thanks for sharing this with us at One Sharendipity Place this weekend!!

    Krys @thet2women.com and www.worshipingwhilewaiting.blogspot

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    1. Thanks, Krystle! So glad this blessed you! God bless you massively!

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  11. Regarding "bitterness" and the need to guard our hearts..I am learning [ at 72 yrs old] this...I never could imagine this being a problem. Now dealing w a serious illness w my husband I understand how satan can use adversity to steal our joy and contentment..

    Jonell

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    1. Jonell, that is so good that you are recognizing the tactics of the enemy so you can guard yourself from his attempts to plant seeds of bitterness. Knowing our enemy and his weapons and tactics are half the battle. God bless you immeasurably!

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  12. I listened to your video with Corrie Ten Boom. It was so powerful - when she said "I could not" - but then explains how through Him she could. Just powerful! Thank you for sharing!

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    1. I loved that video, too. Corrie Ten Boom is such an inspiration! God bless you amply!

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  13. Thank you for this. Forgiveness cam be a very difficult thing.
    Our preacher had a lesson on forgiveness yesterday, and so it's been on my heart and on my mind.
    I like your definition: "It is simply releasing a person from their sins against you, just as God in His grace has released you from your sins against Him"
    It really isn't so much about the other person as it is my own relationship with God.

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    1. I love how you put it, "It really isn't so much about the other person as it is my own relationship with God." So true! Whenever I'm offended by someone I need to remember to take the plank out of my own eye to see the speck in theirs. Humbling, but that is what forgiveness requires. God bless you massively!

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  14. Oh what a very important message this is! Forgiveness releases us to live and walk in a greater measure of God's grace!

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    1. Thanks, Rosilind! I totally agree with you, "Forgiveness releases us to live and walk in a greater measure of God's grace!" It is so freeing for both the offended, as well as the offender. God bless you abundantly!

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  15. EXCELLENT post, Brooke! Thanks for the encouragement and challenge - and for linking this up with me this week!!

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    1. Thank you, Kate! So glad this blessed you! God bless you tremendously!

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  16. Thanks so much for linking up two excellent inspiring posts! I think there's wisdom in guarding yourself against unforgiveness. We need to be more open to each other and our feelings in general I think.

    Sarah @ A Cat-Like Curiosity

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    1. Thanks, Sarah! I agree. Life is too short to hold on to grudges and harbor unforgiveness. In the long run, unforgiveness does more harm to the person who refuses to forgive, than to the person who caused the offense to begin with. God bless you extraordinarily!

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Thank you for taking the time to share. May God bless you richly!