September 26, 2021
Forgiven, to Forgive
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Welcome! What a precious gift we have from the Father who forgives us our iniquities pardons us from our sin and redeems us through His Son Jesus!
1 Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
We sing praises of His sweet forgiveness and offer up thanksgiving; as we should! Oh how we should be shouting out our praises for His amazing grace poured out upon us! What freedom we have because of Christ! We are redeemed and set free from the bondage and power sin had over us before-thank You Jesus! Let us lift high the powerful name of Jesus every day and bless His name!
There is a difference as we spoke about last week when we choose to live with this gratefulness and awareness in our hearts. It’s one thing to believe in Christ as our Savior; it’s quite another to live each day in the freedom and forgiveness our Savior extends to us. Know the difference.
Choose the latter way to live because only when we live this way will we ever experience the fullness of why Christ died for us! It’s not just so we have a sweet place to go to after this life-that is a promise we cling to for sure and I can only imagine how wonderful it will be when we all get there-BUT He died so we can live here and now, as a people who are forgiven, set free and filled with His Spirit flowing through us! It’s beautiful and awesome when we get this and start living this way. As we spoke about last week, it all begins with first understanding what it means to be forgiven by our God. When we do, this is what prompts us to want to shout out praises, to glorify His name, and to look at our lives with gratefulness-for we can’t help but see the hand of God upon us. We are overwhelmed by His unfailing love.
If you are a follower of Christ, you know then, we are to follow Christ, in every way. He freely forgives out of love and compassion for others. Even on the cross, remember Jesus forgave those who mocked Him and put the nails in His hands and feet. He said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
If we are to follow Him and His example in how He loves others, why then is it such a hard thing for many of us to extend forgiveness to someone? Are we not genuinely grateful and relieved when we know we have been forgiven by our Father who loves us?
I believe the reason lies in the words we just sang about in Matthew West’s song. When we are faced with a choice to forgive someone who has wronged us we are choosing to let the love of Christ flow through us to touch that person, or we are choosing to let our fleshly nature respond. When we choose the latter, this is what Matthew West brought to light:
It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
Takes everything you have to say the word
It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge Say you’ve got a right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying set it free Forgiveness,
We are freely forgiven and we are called over and over throughout Scripture to forgive one another.
This is not from ourselves, this is from the Spirit moving in us as we set aside our pride and the many reasons we believe we are justified to withhold forgiveness, and we look to the cross.
When preparing for this message I asked God to share what He wanted us to learn or be reminded of regarding forgiving others.
He said, “Do I withhold forgiveness towards you?” To which I replied, no you never do.
“When then do you think humans harbor unforgiveness?”
I wrote we are acting in the flesh because we have been hurt, betrayed, abandoned, abused, lied to…
God said, “Haven’t all those things been done to My Son and Me?”
I said, “yes over and over again.”
“And yet I forgive.” “Yes Lord, this truth is so incredible to ponder.”
He asked, “are you made in My image or that of the enemy?” “Yours!” “Who wants you to withhold forgiveness? What does that lead to?”
I said, “The enemy does because it births bitterness, divisiveness, hate, separateness…”
“Are any of those of Me? Do any of those lead to unity and peace? Do any of those further My kingdom whose foundation is built on love and peace?”
“No Lord, none of them are of You or Your kingdom.”
We could just end the message right here, couldn’t we? Wow, that was powerful to receive!
God continued on, “Are any of those of Me? Do any of those lead to unity and peace? Do any of those further My kingdom whose foundation is built on love and peace?”
If what we are allowing to grow in our heart is not of God, does not lead to unity and peace, and doesn’t further build His kingdom-then what we are doing?
Our key scripture is in Colossians 3. I want to remind of a truth in the first 3 verses before we jump into the ones we’ll be focusing on today.
Colossians 3: 1-3 Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Did you catch this important truth?
We have talked about this many times this past year. You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. As a believer, spiritually we die to our old self- we die on that cross with Jesus, our old self is buried in the grave with Jesus; and we rise a new creation with His Spirit in us. This is the promise and the power of the Gospel. We are changed as we believe in Him! But we must remember we were bought at a price-that is very life of Jesus, given for us to be made in His image and for Him to live through us. So if our life is hidden with Christ and we are to set our minds on things that are above-that means we will do what Christ did and would do. We will love one another. We will be compassionate. We will seek to understand one another. We will strive for peace. We will forgive.
As we read further in this chapter we are told in greater detail how we are to live hidden in Christ, and how we reflect Him out in this world.
Colossians 3: 12-17 NIV
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
It’s pretty clear how we are to treat one another right and what is of the utmost importance-peace, forgiveness, unity and love.. When we choose unforgiveness and let our hearts be hardened, it not only affects the kingdom work God desires to do through each of us, but it affects our own relationship with God-dramatically.
- Unforgiveness Blocks God’s Love
When talking with God about this message He also shared,
“your heart grows cold, like stone when unforgiveness takes root and grows. This makes it difficult for My love to flow freely through you. You resist Me when your harbor unforgiveness. Guilt rises in you and you distance from Me. Unforgiveness pushes love away and that spills over into your walk with Me, your view of the world around you, your connection to My church and your willingness to be of service to Me.
Unforgiveness doesn’t allow me to bind up the wounds from your brokenness, it keeps those wounds fresh and raw.”
As Christians, our life is no longer our own; we live with Christ in us and we live to fulfill His purposes to make the Gospel known, to point the lost to Him and to glorify His name. We are grafted into the Church; the Body of Christ and we are commanded to love one another. This is not a suggestion or only for those you get along with. Oh my goodness, what an awesome testing ground and place to practice walking in the image of Christ and letting His Spirit flow through -through the Church! We get the opportunity over and over again to practice grace and extend love and forgiveness as we serve and grow in our faith together. And if we don’t, we see how quickly things unravel and the church can fall part. Any of you who have been part of a church for any number of years certainly know what I’m talking about and have seen it played out.
We must know this truth- When we withhold forgiveness against a brother or sister in Christ- we are working in direct opposition to God and His Church.
We cannot say we love God and hate a brother or sister. Unforgiveness is the seed for bitterness and hate to grow from.
Hebrews 12:15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.
When our heart is hardened, we are not opening ourselves up for God’s love to flow through us. There might be a genuine hurt you have, I’m not trying to discount those today at all or say sweep wrongs under the rug as if they never happened. God isn’t saying that either to be clear. God cares about the condition of our heart though.
When we are hurt by someone, we should bring it to God to let Him mend that hurt, and to show us the situation from His perspective. Remember everyone is flawed and broken in some way. Everyone. Hurt people-hurt others. When we don’t bring it to God, we are blocking His love from bringing healing to us and that situation.
Matthew 6: 14-15 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Proverbs 17:9 Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.
Ephesians 5:2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
- Forgiveness Shows the Riches of God’s Love
When we forgive another who has hurt us, we show God’s love for them through us. His mercy and compassion.
God said to me, “they might not deserve that forgiveness, but neither did you for your sin. Yet because of My grace, I gave it anyway. Forgiveness shows the riches of My grace. This is not of this world-which harbors grudges, writes people off and let’s hate grow. I love, restore, redeem and make all things whole.”
Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
This is our example to follow.
I love Peter as he’s learning from Jesus. He wanted to know is there a limit-like if someone continues to come against me-can I say at some point-sorry you just hit 8 times- sorry that’s it. Don’t we feel like Peter? Look at what Jesus said.
Matthew 18: 21-22 21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” 22 “No, not seven times,”
Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
Jesus then taught a parable of a king who was settling accounts with his slaves. One owed him a great deal of money but could not pay the debt. The king was going to have him and all his family sold to repay the debt. The slave fell face to the ground and begged for mercy. The king felt compassion for him, released him and forgave the debt. That same slave went out to one of his fellow slaves who owed him a much smaller amount of money and demanded payment-being harsh with him. He couldn’t pay his debt either and the man who had been forgiven by the king for his much larger debt, threw this slave in prison until he could repay what he owed. The king found out and was furious stating he had forgiven all his debt and he should have in return had mercy on his fellow slave, just as mercy had been shown to him.
This is what we do when we receive the mercy and forgiveness of our Father but withhold it from someone else.
1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
- Compassion Leads to Forgiveness
Maybe you’re thinking yeah that’s all fine and good for some people but what about those really awful people who are just so cruel, who have said such horrible things, who are so selfish…
Remember Jesus on the cross who looked upon those who drove the nails into his hands and feet, who mocked him and He said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
If we as Christians know how we are to treat one another and still we fall short, how much more will those who don’t know Jesus hurt those around them? Again, I am not condoning harmful and destructive behavior or telling you to be a doormat or go back to unsafe relationships. Not at all. God wants us to see others as He does-broken, wounded, hurting and in need of His redemptive love. The only way we’ll ever be able to see someone through this lens is if we clothe ourselves with compassion, just as Jesus does.
Look at this truth from a fresh perspective today:
John 15:5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
Apart from Me you can do nothing. There is a two-fold truth here. If someone is not in Christ-they will not behave or model the virtues of Christ. It would be foolish of us to think they would. They will model the prince of this world. For those of us who do know Jesus, we must remember how important it is to stay near to Him. He is the vine-supplying us the branches with His Love, goodness, kindness, compassion and ability to forgive others. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. Do you hear this today? Stay near to Christ and that is how we are able to forgive-for the vine will send what is needed to the branch.
I read this truth: “we cannot give what we do not have and we cannot meet where we have not been met. This change in perception allows a tangible release of pressure in our hearts. There is relief in choosing forgiveness despite how we may feel. This is the power that Jesus expressed and this same power is available for us through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.”
James 2:14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?
If we are unwilling to extend forgiveness, what good is it to say we have faith, if we are unwilling to act in it? Faith in Christ is what allows us to forgive others.
Maybe you fear what could happen again if you forgive someone’s wrong.
“We might fear we didn’t stand up for ourselves properly. We might fear the person is getting away with something or that they can just do it again. We may fear we will be taken advantage of. The source of this fear is pride. When we lay down our pride, we get closer to our true selves, that is, ourselves connected with Christ.”
We don’t have to withhold forgiveness to protect ourselves or have control over the situation. Quite the opposite-forgiving brings healing and freedom we’ll never otherwise experience.
Freedom from hate, bitterness, revenge, anxiety, fear, unrest. Forgiveness brings you to peace and allows you to truly live as a child of God that has been set free. Forgiveness allows God to bind the wounds and turn them into beautiful marks of redemption and healing.
John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.
Conclusion: Forgiveness of others is a maturing in our faith and trust in God. Trusting He sees our pain caused by another and He will care for you as only He can do. We are being transformed into the likeness of Christ. We are to reflect Christ to the world around us as His ambassadors for the Gospel. Let us look through eyes of compassion that move us to act in love. Let us forgive others as Christ has forgiven us, demonstrating the riches of God’s grace to all.
May we in turn experience freedom in Christ.
God wants you to let His Spirit flow freely to bind up every wound you have and shine light into every bit of darkness within you. He encourages us to let our mind and heart be free from the shackles of unforgiveness and filled instead with His love.
Can I encourage you today, if you have any unforgiveness towards someone, choose to forgive now and release all that you have been holding on to.
Release it into the loving arms of God. Freely be washed by His love and let all that go so you can begin to heal. He can only mend what you release to Him. If you don’t want to let it go, remember unforgiveness is a sin. Repent of that and ask God to help you forgive. Jesus has come to set the captives free, let us each choose to live free and experience the riches of His love.
Father God, we thank You for Your unfailing love towards us, for Your mercies anew each day as we fall short, for Your grace extended to us who are flawed and broken, for Your forgiveness. Thank You Lord. Thank You Jesus for modeling the way for us to extend that same forgiveness to others. It is by Your Spirit flowing in us we are able to forgive one another and let go of bitterness, anger and hate. It is through forgiving others of their wrongs, that we find freedom and healing in You Lord. Help us to forgive and let us trust in You Father to bind up the wounds others have caused us. We know You care for us and desire for us to be whole in Christ. Help us to always look to the cross and ask for Your eyes Jesus when we look upon others. Help us through Your Spirit to be moved by compassion and choose to love others as You love us. Thank You for the gift of forgiveness-both in being forgiven and choosing to forgive others. That is how we experience You more fully and that is how we reflect You to this broken world. In Your name Jesus we pray. Amen.
Final Blessing: 1 Thessalonians 3: 12-13 May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.