- Matthew 18:21-35 (Forgive) “up to seventy times seven”
Forgiveness is a hard topic. Though the sections in this week may be short, you will find that a softened heart to the voice of God will result in much reflection. Follow where He leads you. Spend time reflecting on your own life. And see the freeing results Christ can bring.
FORGIVE UP TO SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN…LIVING FORGIVEN
Forgiveness. It raises the hackles and furrows the brow. Though we may not like to admit it, we want grace for ourselves yet have a hard time forgiving others. We fear that forgiving gives the other person permission to do it again. It feels vulnerable, which makes it even harder to do.
Read Colossians 2:13-14. What do you learn about forgiveness?
How many of our transgressions have been forgiven?
According to this passage, what state were you in when you were forgiven?
You were forgiven before you knew you needed it. You were forgiven before you ever asked for it. “But God is perfect. And Jesus is God,” you may be proclaiming, looking for any excuse to not have to deal with this issue. Sorry, this is one you cannot avoid forever. Yes, He can forgive. But we are mere mortals. How can we so easily forgive?
First, let’s do away with the notion that forgiveness is easy.
Read Hebrews 9:21-22. What do you learn about forgiveness?
Forgiveness of our sin required a blood sacrifice to make us clean before the Holy God. But despite what our begrudging nature desires, blood is not required for us to forgive another. After all, we are neither holy nor God. Just because we don’t require blood, doesn’t mean forgiveness is easy. However, Jesus doesn’t give us an “out” based on ease. He tells us to forgive, even up to seventy times seven. So how can we possibly do that?
Read Luke 7:36-50. Note what you learn about sins and forgiveness.
So quickly we forget how much we have been forgiven. And we forget the freedom felt in the wake of such massive forgiveness.
Spend some time reflecting on all that Christ has forgiven in your life. Be still before God and ask Him to show you Who He is.
Read Galatians 5:1. What stands out to you?
Christ set us free. Who are you to hold another in bondage with your refusal to forgive? Your unforgiveness does not protect you. Instead it yokes you to the person and their offense. Instead of keeping them at a distance, your unforgiveness actually ties you right next to them, holding you both captive.
Follow the instructions from Galatians 5:1 and “…do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Your unforgiveness creates bonds in your life, and Christ already set you free! It is up to you to decide whether you want to live freed as Christ intended or if you will tire your life with bonds of your own making.
Confess areas of unforgiveness in your life.
Read Luke 23:33-34. What did Christ ask?
Christ’s killers knew they were killing him, some even knew He was innocent of the charges against Him. A couple even believed He truly was the Son of God. Yet He still asked the Father to forgive them.
If He can do that, what is standing in the way of you forgiving those who have sinned against you? If Christ can forgive, do you think you are higher than Christ?
RECIPROCATION OF FORGIVENESS
Read Matthew 6:8-15. What do you learn about forgiveness?
According to Jesus’ own words, who forgives you when you forgive others?
Ask for help forgiving those against whom you are holding a grudge.
Now ask the Father to forgive you for holding the grudge in the first place.
If God can forgive them, and He can forgive you, then you can release your grudge. Let it go, and you will experience a level of freedom you have never known.
THE REWARDS ARE BEYOND YOU
Forgiveness does more than release you from a burden you were never meant to carry. Freedom begets freedom begets freedom.
Ephesians 4:30-32. What stands out to you?
The world is watching. We claim fellowship with the Creator. We proclaim a changed life as result of follow Christ. The world wants to see what that means. When they look at your relationships and our church, which part of this Ephesians passage do they see? Be very careful how you answer the church half of that question; if you are pointing fingers at others and their unforgiveness, you’re likely part of that unforgiveness cycle as well. Root out those stems of bitterness.
Would you rather join a fellowship who is loving and forgiving? Or burdened with strife and discord? Our level of forgiveness, or lack thereof, is a clear sign to those outside the church how seriously we take the forgiveness of Christ.
“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” –Ephesians 4:32 Isn’t that the kind of church we all want?
What do you need to address personally to contribute to this positive environment?
What do you need to let go of?
What is Jesus telling you?