During the Holidays, it is time again to spend time with family. And who has hurt us or disappointed us in the past if it isn’t family. Maybe your family is from another world where life is perfect and is without disfunction, or maybe you are like the rest of us that deal with the inevitable hurt and bitterness that can exist within a family.
When hurts are not healed with love,
When family members take sides against each other,
When we care more about being right than reaching out to another in love and mercy,
When it just isn’t worth forgiving and trying to reconcile with them anymore,
When the bitterness has taken hold in a situation and hearts are hardened to a point of a military stand off –
Where is the peace? Where is the love?
So we pray, and we hold out hope.
Forgiveness is not only about others, but also about our own spiritual growth. Love and forgiveness cannot be separated. If we choose to live out the love of God as the purpose of our life, then forgiving is an option that cannot be avoided.
#1 Because we are sinners we should forgive others
Matthew 6:14-15 NIV
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Colossians 3:13 NIV
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
#2 We should be ready to forgive over and over again
Matthew 18: 21-22 NIV
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
#3 We forgive to avoid making others be overwhelmed
2 corinthians 2:5-8 NIV
If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.
#4 If we have Christ’s love in us, Love will lead to forgiving others
1 corinthians 13:4 – 6 NIV
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
#5 Not forgiving others keeps us from coming to God
Matthew 5:23-24 NIV
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”
#6 We are called to forgive others rather than judge others
Luke 6:37 NIV
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
John 8:7 NIV
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
#7 Stephen provides a remarkable example of the forgiveness of a Christ follower
Acts 7:59-60 NIV
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
#8 Jesus is our Model
Luke 23:33-34 NIV
When they came to a place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
#9 Jesus commanded us to forgive with an open heart
Luke 17:3-4 NIV
So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says , ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
#10 Even if they are our enemy, that isn’t an excuse to not show them love and kindness
Romans 12:20 NIV
On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
I believe that your life will be blessed through forgiving others. Would you like to choose to forgive for the benefit of others? Maybe your decision can bring an opportunity of redemption for them? Maybe it can bring an opportunity of spiritual growth for us as well.