1. Why forgiving others is important: Because if we do not forgive, God will not forgive us. (Mat 6:14-15, 18:35; Mar 11:35)
2. What forgiving means:
2.1. To continue loving those who wrong us. (Mat 5:44; Lev 19:17-18; Pro 25:21)
- To love someone means to treat them in a righteous way (Rom 13:10 – love does no wrong to its neighbor.)
3. What forgiveness requires:
3.1. Seeking the other individual’s highest good. (1Th 5:15; 1Co 10:24)
3.2. Seeing that equity is preserved. (Deu 16:19; 1Ti 5)
- The world’s version of forgiveness (or mercy) oftentimes creates inequity.
3.3. Seeing that justice is served. (i.e. that there is punishment that fits the crime) (Psa 99:8; Exo 34:7; Jer 46:28; Deu 16:20)
- Avoiding or neglecting justice encourages evil and wrongdoing. It also increases the number of victims. (Ecc 8:11; 2Ti 3)
3.4. Establishing guilt in relation to the other person.
- It is not uncommon to think any time I am mad at someone for something they did, that I need to forgive that individual. But unless the person has truly done something sinful, what your feelings of anger toward them are indicating is not your need to forgive but your need to repent. Otherwise you turn passages like Proverbs 19:3 on their heads.
4. What forgiveness does not mean or require:
4.1. That the other individual repents or ever feel or say they are sorry. (Luk 17:1-10)
4.2. That we ever like them or have feelings of affection for them (God calls us to “hate” the wicked just as He “hates” them. Psa 26:3, 31:6, 119:13, 139:21-22 – we are to love our enemies, but they are still our enemies)
4.3. That we ever trust them (again) or restore them to their prior relationship (or position).
- Trust and restoration both require repentance and time for rebuilding what was lost through prior sinful actions. And with some sins, the damage can never be fully repaired especially as it relates to trust. (e.g. Pro 6:32-33 – Adultery is the “stain that stays.” That person’s reproach [in this sense] and therefore ability to be trusted as “above reproach” has forever been removed. Hence why a pastor that does this is permanently disqualified from that office [since the qualifications require them to be above reproach.])
- This would be true as it relates to other crimes where trust is critical. (e.g. a babysitter who molests the children, the person handling money in a business stealing, committing a crime with a gun)
- Just because I don’t trust or like someone however, does not mean I don’t have to respect or submit to them where applicable. (e.g. that individual has authority over you)
- The point not to miss: though we must forgive (continuing to genuinely love the other person), that does not mean things can always go back to the way they were.
Closing challenge: Think about how every aspect we discussed in relation to and exists in God’s forgiveness of us and the biblical view of salvation.