Passage: Ephesians 4:31-32
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.
I once attended the funeral of a man who was shot and killed for no reason, other than the shooter had wanted to impress his friends. Have you seen any tragedies that shook you to the core? What transpired next was remarkably inspiring. Watching the parents of the victim communicate forgiveness to a watching city was life changing. It was perfectly clear that Jesus was giving them this ability in the middle of their loss. Mourning was not minimized in any way, but there was a sincere expression of forgiveness and grace in spite of such a cruel attack. How would you respond if your son was murdered? God can relate to that level of pain. From the cross, Jesus asked His Father to forgive the people who killed Him. The gift of forgiveness was demonstrated by Jesus when He died on the cross to forgive you.
As you walk through relational grace, perhaps the greatest expression of your faith is a consistent loving forgiveness. So what does forgiveness look like in a relationship? Forgiveness is a decision in which you choose not to hold anything against someone. The other person may not deserve to be forgiven, but you give it as a gift. It is the decision to let go of any grudges, bitterness, or any attempt to get even. God is very clear that vengeance is His and His alone. Forgiveness can be a very difficult choice especially when you have been hurt deeply. It is also a decision that you may need to make over and over again. You might even need to forgive the same person many times in one day. But it is always the best decision. Otherwise you can get trapped in negative thoughts and actions and carry anger with you for months or years. Bitterness can trap and eventually destroy you, so don’t harbor it. Relational grace through forgiveness to others can also set you free.
What does God mean when He tells you to forgive someone?
1) Forgiveness does not mean that we forget. Don’t feel guilty if you remember the specific words or actions in which someone hurt you. The memories don’t always fade.
2) Forgiveness can be different than the healing process. God can bring healing in many ways, but healing is often a process that can take a long time. Forgiveness, though, is a decision that should be done right away.
3) Forgiveness can include distance. It may be healthy to have some space or distance from the person who hurt you, so they don’t continue to do more damage. Different types of boundaries can be a helpful for your protection.
4) Forgiveness is more than a suggestion. God says you need to forgive people just as Christ has forgiven you. This is for your own good, and it glorifies God too.
The Ability To Forgive
How do you find the power to forgive? It comes from Jesus. You can start by thinking about the cross and how Jesus paid the price for your sins. God has given you eternal and complete forgiveness through Jesus. After receiving this gift, now you need to offer that same forgiveness to other people. There have been many people in my life whom I couldn’t forgive until I came to know Jesus. Experiencing forgiveness from God carries over into your relationships with other people. Look over what the Bible says about forgiveness. Make your decision to forgive everyone who has hurt you. Both you and the people you forgive will benefit as you extend grace. This will also accelerate the healing process in your life.
1) Why is it important to realize that forgiveness is a choice?
2) Is there anyone you still need to forgive?
3) What has brought healing into your life when you have been hurt?
4) How does forgiving people bring glory to God?
Matthew 6:12-15. God expects you to forgive everyone fully.
Matthew 18:15-20. Make the decision to forgive just as God has forgiven you.
1 Peter 3:8-9. Your calling is to live in harmony and with compassion.
Mark 11:22-25. Forgive other people so that your prayers will be heard.
Gracious God, thank You that Your forgiveness is real and complete in Jesus. I accept and thank You for your mercy towards me. I want to pass this gift on to other people by forgiving other people who hurt me. I know You have something better than bitterness for my life. I choose to walk in freedom and let You handle all vengeance. I commit this to You in Jesus’ name. Amen.
For more from Pastor Jesse Bradley and Activate Media Ministries, visit www.activatelife.org