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Forgiven to Forgive

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We are reminded that God graciously forgives us completely, fully, and consistently. We are encouraged to forgive and restore our neighbors.

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Incredible Grace

I was drawn to these particular verses because they deal with the topic of forgiveness. It is something that I struggled with growing up. Confession time . . . as a high schooler I have a list of people who had wronged me. How messed up is that??? I am happy to say that God has done a work in my life and through his strength and power I forgive.
With that said, I was at place before God dealt with me on this forgiveness issues that I truly felt some people didn’t deserve forgiveness. Has anyone here ever felt that way, don’t raise your hands :) Is there someone in your life that you can't forgive? Why do you think that is? And then on the flip side Have you ever known anyone who really messed up and was forgiven and completely restored to their community?
This passage deals with that “flip side” this story was first highlighted in 1st Corinthians when a man had sinned, and Paul recommended that the church be very firm in their punishment of him. Fast forward to this passage. The man who sinned repented, and Paul now is encouraging for a complete acceptance of him back into the fellowship of this congregation.
I love that this guy did something awful, but he was forgiven, not only forgiven but accepted back into full fellowship with his community.
I love stories of forgiveness. I was reminded of a story in October 2006, after a long shift at the fire department, 20-year-old Matt Swatzell fell asleep while driving and crashed into another vehicle. He awoke to "the most God awful sound" he had ever heard, realizing he had crashed into June Fitzgerald, who was pregnant and with her 19-month-old daughter Faith. Faith survived the crash, but June and her unborn child did not. Fitzgerald's husband, a full-time pastor, asked for the man's diminished sentence, saying, "You forgive as you've been forgiven." He meets with Swatzell regularly, and their friendship continues years later.
Or Anita, the wife of a slain Chemistry teacher "Anita Smith and her husband Ronnie moved to Libya because, "We saw the suffering of the Libyan people, but we also saw your hope, and we wanted to partner with you to build a better future," Anita said Ronnie was a chemistry teacher in a Benghazi school.” On Dec. 5, 2013, Ronnie was shot and killed by a gunman during his morning run. Anita addressed her husband's attacker in her letter, saying, "I love you and forgive you. How could I not? For Jesus taught us to 'love our enemies — not to kill them or seek revenge."
And this story only a couple of years old, the brother of the man who was shot in his apartment by a cop. Brandt Jean told her, "I love you as a person, and I don't wish anything bad on you," the 18-year-old assured Amber Guyger. The former Dallas cop was convicted for shooting Botham Jean as he ate ice cream in his own home.
Honestly, when hearing these stories, my gut-level reaction is could I forgive if I were in their shoes . . . As a Christian, the answer is yes, but my flesh, the part that we have to die to daily, isn't so sure. Could I forgive the way these people forgave?
Resentment is an awful feeling. You feel like you are in bondage to it. The moment you are reminded of the wrong done against you, it will instantly steal your joy and peace. If you are happy, you will be sad if you are at peace. It makes you anxious.
Unforgiveness and the resentment rooted in it can actually lead to physical ailments.
Elevated heart rate
2. Elevated blood pressure
3. Lower immune response
4. Depression,
5. Heart disease
6. Diabetes
Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health,
1. lowering the risk of heart attack
2. improving cholesterol levels and
3. Increases sleep; and
4. reducing pain,
5. Normalizes blood pressure, and levels of
6. Minimizes anxiety, depression, and stress.
I was amazed when I saw the benefits of forgiveness. The fact is. When you forgive someone, you forgive yourself. Sometimes we blame ourselves for allowing ourselves to get hurt. Giving yourself a little grace and forgiveness goes a long way. When you forgive yourself, you allow resentment and hurt to be replaced by healing. The fact is that Forgiving gets you out of victim mode. Forgiveness is a choice that you can make, unlike the wrong that was done to you. Instead of being powerless, you have the power to do one of the most challenging things ever. And once you have forgiven, you feel accomplished. You feel free forgiveness frees you. Unforgiveness is literally like a chain. It wears you down. Take a moment and think, when you were unforgiving, how did it feel? When we forgive, we allow God to be in control, we see the world through God's eyes, and instead of resentment, we feel compassion. For those who have wrong us.

Forgiveness Ain’t Easy

But as you are well aware, forgiveness is not easy. As I told you forgiveness has a journey with me. One event that God used in helping me deal with it. Was about ten years ago. I felt someone had wronged my son and, in doing so, wronged me. And I couldn't stop being upset; I couldn't stop being resentful. It lingered . . . I eventually forgave this person because, as the Sunday school song, "Jesus loves me," says, "for the Bible tells me so," The Bible tells us, commands is to forgive.
Something I learned as I was dealing with this, I have to forgive this person every time I see them or the situation comes to my mind, until that moment when the thought of that event and person comes into my mind and doesn't create feelings of resentment. Sometimes it takes days, sometimes weeks, months, and sometimes years. But we don't stop. Peter thought he had the magic number seven. You have to forgive at least seven times. He thought that he was being pretty forgiving. In Jewish culture, anything done three times was the limit. So when he started seven, he went above and beyond. Matthew 18:21-22 - tell us it “21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Jesus basically told Peter what Jesus had been impressing on my heart, (even though had read this story numerous times) that forgiveness is continual action, we don't stop forgiving. And not only forgive but behave and treat the person in that manner. I can honestly say that the person who I was upset with resentful over and unforgiving toward I have completely forgiven and the relationship is restored.
And I am ashamed that took as long as it did to let go, and get this . . . . the person never even apologized, but God changed my heart to forgive because as the cliche goes, forgiveness us for you, not the other person. Not forgiving is like drinking poison hoping the other person will die. Un-forgiveness doesn't work. It just makes you a very unhappy person.
I can understand how adamant Paul was then about church forgiving this person. He was telling them put “your money where your mouth is ” or “put or shut up. ”[JL4] If he is truly restored bring him back into fellowship.
When you have forgiven someone, have you forgiven to the point that you can fellowship with them again? When someone is genuinely repentant as in this passage of Scripture, if you are unable or unwilling to fellowship with them, You definitely need to forgive them and if you thought you had . . . guess what you didn't,
You might have hidden it so deep that you can't feel it, but it's still there.

The Danger of Unforgiveness

Paul, in this passage, urges forgiveness. In this scenario, the man was expelled from the fellowship as discipline. The punishment was intended to restore him and not harm him(vv.7-8). In the same with you, if you have chosen to cease contact with a person as a matter of discipline, you need to restore the relationship you had with them once you know they have repented.
Secondly, he urges us to forgive because if we can't forgive each other, it will be difficult for us to accept the fact that Jesus forgave us for far worse things (vv.9-10). In our context, if we are unforgiving, how can we share how can we tell someone that Jesus loves them and died for them. If we can't forgive, how can they expect Christ to forgive? We are his representation here on earth.
And thirdly, when we live in unforgiveness, it's a breeding ground for evil. We give the devil room to work. Ephesians 4:27-32 reminds us to27 provide no opportunity for the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
For the Christian, there is no room for Unforgiveness, resentment bitterness.
The Bible warns about bitterness: "Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled" (Hebrews 12:15). The word "bitterness" comes from the Greek word "pikria." It's used in Acts 8:23 of a condition of extreme wickedness, "gall of bitterness" or "bitter gall." Romans 3:14 says it's a mouth full of cursing and bitterness. Deuteronomy 32:33 and Job 20:16 represent poisonous snakes' deadly "poison" or "venom." Doesn't that give you a crazy visual of what it is like when we live in unforgiveness.
We have to realize that if we don't forgive, according to Mark 11:25-26

Jesus’ Overwhelming Grace

Jesus said, "Whenever you stand praying if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses."
This isn't about our eternal salvation. That's secure when we put our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. This is about our being blessed or disciplined by God (Hebrews 12:7-11). God will not hear our prayers when we have unforgiveness in our life (Isaiah 59:1-2)
Romans 12:17-19 says, "Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord." Nothing that has ever been done to us can be worse than what Christ had to endure.
How did Christ endure? According to Luke 23:34 34, Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." [a] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
When we choose to live in unforgiveness, it is often the result of pride and self-righteousness.
This tells us that the issues we are dealing with are much deeper than a hurt we can't let go of. It should give us an indicator of where we are with our walk with Jesus.
I used to get upset when I got cut off in traffic. I mean angry, and everything that goes along with it. I’m glad no one was recording what was being said inside my car at these moments. I was that guy. The guy would catch up and drive next to you and give you that look and maybe a condescending head shake. I felt I had the right. This person who is not paying attention could have cost me my life. Until one day, I was getting on the freeway at 15 freeway and Ontario in Corona, and I heard a honk, and a car cut me off. The guy in the back seat of the other vehicle saluted me with one finger several times. And I am not a lip reader, but it was pretty clear what he was saying to me.
I turned to my friend, and I said, what happened? he said you cut that guy off. I said what I didn't even see him . . .
From that moment on I decided to forgive and be kind to fellow drivers. How could I expect others to forgive me if I don’t forgive them. Fact is If Christ took punishment he did not deserve, how dare I get indignant about someone cutting me off in traffic and having an unforgiving, self-righteous attitude about it. Nothing that we have been through is what Christ went through. He did it freely so that we could have eternal life with him.
You might say, Joel sounds good but I can't stop being angry; I can't stop being hurt.
Or maybe you are numb and don't feel anything. Regardless of where you find yourself let this be an encouragement to you to open that wound to deal with the hurt and put a proper bandage on it.
My first encouragement is to commit to prayer. Say Lord Joel talked about un-forgiveness, but I can't let go. Start reading the psalms. I love how David expresses his frustration and anger in that book. Thirdly talk to pastor josh, talk to your elder, talk to me. Talk to a Christian that you can trust to keep you accountable and pray with you. Then sit back and let God do all the work. Not might by might not by power but His spirit.
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