As we begin this study series, let's ask ourselves how we view "Forgiveness" right now. Then we'll compare our answers with our views against God's Word at the end of this series. Most of us may find that we are not dealing with forgiveness in a Biblical manner.
Forgiveness = "The act of forgiving; pardon."
Forgiving = "Disposed to forgive; merciful."
Forgive = "1. To grant pardon for or remission of (something); cease to demand the penalty for. 2. To grant freedom from penalty to (someone). 3. To cease to blame or feel resentment against. 4. To remit, as a debt. 5. To show forgiveness; grant pardon."
the above is from pg 496 in Funk & Wagnalls New International Dictionary of the English Language, Comprehensive Edition Copyright © 1984, 1982, 1977, 1973, 1971 by J.G. Ferguson Publishing CompanyStrong's # 859 a[fesiß - translated Aphesis - pronounced af'-es-is ; which is a noun, feminine in origin. This is used for the word Forgiveness in the New Testament.
Strong's # 5483 carivzomai - translated Charizomai - prounounced khar-id'-zom-ahee is a verb - something we DO!
Job, chapter 42
There are so many, many examples, but this is enough to get us started. May the Lord richly bless you as you study His Word!
One of the largest hindrances to our Christian growth is unforgiveness. I am not speaking "off the cuff" here, I am speaking from deep-rooted experience. Forgiveness is a topic that I had to walk through . . . crawl through . . . and learn about, the hard way! It is so very simple, that it is difficult! (As is most in our Christian walk!) The simplicity is this (I will share it now, and most likely many times throughout these lessons until we all understand it):
Forgiveness is an act of obedience, NOT something we necessarily "feel" like doing!
(for a wee bit of my own experience, you may visit this article)
Many of the "tools" I will be using in these lessons will be from my own struggle with unforgiveness, along with material I acquired through my Biblical Counseling Courses ( [*] credit given below). These are wonderful things the Lord allowed within my life to help me to be able to become free . . . free from the chains that hindered . . . [*] chains of unforgiveness (bitterness, anger, holding grudges, retaliation, etc.).
It would be so wonderful if I could have just shared with you that above statement and have that be that. You say "Yes!" and go on to a happy and fulfilling life totally free from unforgiveness . . . but, we are stubborn human creatures, and we need to examine thoroughly the evidence before us. Even then, sometimes, we struggle.
There are SO many aspects to forgiveness! (Forgiveness of sins - between us and the Lord; forgiveness we extend to others; forgiveness we need to seek from others; forgiveness we need to extend to ourselves; forgiveness extended to God - now, before you close the door on this particular aspect, it would be good for you to follow it through - God does NOT need to be forgiven; however, we may have anger towards Him due to certain circumstances . . . and we can free ourselves by making the choice to forgive . . . we'll get into that more, later.)
Let us take a look at three passages. What I would like for us to do is to read one at a time, perhaps several times, asking the Holy Spirit to open up the eyes of our understanding to receive all He has for us within the verses. Then, write out how it speaks to your own heart about forgiveness.
So many of us choose to live our lives based upon delusions instead of the reality of life and life circumstances as they are written out for us in God's Word! Because we've been hurt so bad, wounded so deeply that we tend to build up walls to some people, and grow distant. In other instances, we try to push things aside, convincing ourselves that "time will heal" . . . these, dear ones, are NOT truth, but delusions that the world would like us to believe.
To better help you understand what I'm saying, let me give you an example of a life conflicts without forgiveness:
Sally and Jane were friends through their growing up years. They many times changed their schedules in school to be in the same classes, and often joined the same clubs. Several times, however, Jane and Sally found themselves actually "competing" against one another in various situations. Sally would feel deeply wounded by something Jane had said; Jane would feel rejected by something that Sally did. There would be conflict, and then they would [*] "pretend" (Proverbs 13:10 & 28:25) that they were actually [*] "getting along better". Then, something else would happen . . . more conflicts would arise . . . they would then begin to [*] "tolerate" (Proverbs 14:3 & 11:2) one another. Believing that things were actually "okay". Life for the two of them would continue on, and then another conflict. Sally and Jane were both wounded, yet neither one would admit their wrong, or, ask for forgiveness. They start to realize that their relationship was [*] "just the way life is" between them. In other words, becoming [*] "resigned" (Proverbs 21:24 & 16:18) to their relationship as good/bad/good/bad . . . hanging on to their hurt, and clinging to the hope that somewhere, somehow things would truly get better, but thinking that it most likely would not. By this time; however, they had so many years invested in each other they just did not want to end their relationship. Sally and Jane went on to seperate colleges, kept in touch, and things were okay. They got together again in the summer, and low and behold another conflict. As neither one would admit their wrong to the other, they start to feel that [*] "it is just no use" to try to keep the relationship alive anymore, that nothing had changed, nor nothing will ever change it. They [*] "give up" (Proverbs 15:25 & 29:23).
Let us look up those Scripture passages, write out how they speak to conflict, and our reactions towards them:
2. How can you apply them to a situation (or situations) in your own life, with a friend, or even a spouse?
This has been a lot for one study, so we will continue next time . . . bless you in your study times. Pray this week for the Lord to open up your eyes to see and your heart to understand areas of past conflict in your life that perhaps you've been prideful about, and ask Him to soften your heart to be able to apply His Word to that (those) situation (situations).
The TRUTH is that we are to make every effort to be at peace with others (Hebrews 12:14, 13:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15), and this can not be done without the Lord's help! Let's read the following passages, in several different versions, if at all possible, and then write out how the Lord has spoken them into your heart as to "how" we are to live:
. . . a choice (to follow in the footsteps of our Savior)
. . . an act of obedience (to forgive as God, in Christ, has forgiven us & to be at peace with one another)
Write out Ephesians 4:25-5:2 in your own words, how it speaks to you.
Now, let's take an HONEST REFLECTION of our heart and answer the following questions:
As we wrapped up our last lesson, we were taking a good strong HONEST REFLECTION at our lives, and any areas of unforgiveness we may have towards others. Today I would like us to examine our heart even deeper. Let us go to that place inside where we go when we think about our broken dreams, shattered promises, changed plans.
I made a choice. After I had poured out my heart to Him, I choose to forgive Him. I choose to trust in His will in each and every one of those areas. Did He need me to do that? Again, No. Did I need me to do that? YES! I can not tell you how freeing it was, but it did not stop there . . . it was a very humbling experience and I realized that I needed to forgive myself for not being honest with Him before. For allowing the anger and bitterness to grow. For allowing satan to get a foothold. I ended up on my face before my Maker, not only forgiving Him, but asking Him to forgive me for being angry and hateful towards the things He allowed in my life. It was a time of total brokenness for me, yet completely freeing. The intimate relationship with my Savior as a result of my openness is something that I just can not describe.
During this next week, take time to seek your own heart for areas that perhaps you have hidden (become resigned to) and bring them before the Lord. Choose to forgive. Choose to be free!
[ * ] Forgiveness is a deliberate action of my will - out of dependence upon Christ-in-me - removing from the offender his (her) guilt toward me, giving this to God, and considering the offender no longer guilty toward me."
Who is the offender in your life? A parent? A spouse? A child? A neighbor? A co-worker? Perhaps it is only a face and the memory of hurt from someone you don't even remember, yet the hurt is there, just beneath the surface, ready to explode when a similar word is spoken, or action is taken towards you. What can we do to be free of this pain? Of our hurt, rejection, fear, anger?
Let us start by doing a very difficult thing. Let us go on a little "digging" expedition. Take a notebook and make a page with columns . . . title the columns
Look up Proverbs 24:17-18 & Romans 12:19 . . . what two things does the Lord tell us here about those who have hurt us?
Can we actually walk in these directions? No, humanly it is impossible, but with God ALL things are possible. There is only ONE who can truly hold a person accountable for the wrong that they have done, and that is the Lord. It is not our job or our responsibility to get even, or hold them accountable, but it IS a job for us to forgive them. What this does is free us! This is a hard concept to grasp, but dear ones, if you can grasp it, you can walk in total freedom in Christ Jesus and be at peace!
What does 1 Peter 2:23 & Matthew 5:25 tell us . . . ?
Do you realize that we are in bondage, heavy chains of bondage when we do not forgive? When each time we think of a thing done, a word said, something that causes us pain, or brings up anger within us, we are actually adding another link in the chain. That chain can become very, very long and heavy, the longer we carry unforgiveness in our hearts. So, this week, work on your list, be as specific as you can. Ask the Lord to help you remember things that are still inside, causing you pain, that you might not remember. Write them down, and next week we'll take the next step in becoming free.
Let's take a look at the list we completed during the week, after our last lesson. Some of us may have only one or two items written down, but most will have quite a few. Before we begin, I would like you to answer the following:
[ ] angry [ ] hurt [ ] resentful [ ] no different
[ ] Yes [ ] No
Jane had said some untrue things about Sally to a group that Sally had wanted to join. As a result, Sally was not allowed to join, or to even share the truth with the group. Each time she had thought about it in the passing years, she grew more and more bitter, and unable to allow herself to share anything with anyone else, afraid of being hurt again. She decided, right then and there that she wanted to be free! She contacted her pastor again and he shared with her some steps to freedom through forgiveness.
Sally hung up the phone and went to her favorite chair with her notebook. She imagined herself totally embraced by her Abba Father, and she started to cry out to Him. "Daddy, You KNOW how Jane hurt me! You SAW what she did! You heard the things she said about me! You know how hurt I was by not being able to join that group! I know that You KNOW these things, and that she will have to answer to You someday for her words, actions and deeds, but to be obedient to Your Word, I choose, this day, to forgive Jane. I give her, the words spoken, the hurt to my heart, the unforgiveness I've had in my heart, the painful memories, the bitterness I've allowed to grow, and my own fears about making new friendships to You. I place them totally in Your loving hands, and then I am going to let go. They are no longer my concern, but Yours. Abba, thank You for loving me and helping me to see these areas that I needed to give to You. Thank You for freeing me, in Jesus Name, amen."
For each thing written down on her list, she prayed through it completely. Placing the person, action, attitude, words, feelings, etc. into the Father's hands. When she was done with the list, she threw it away and called her pastor. She felt so free inside! She could now remember things, but the pain was not sharp like a knife anymore. She felt no more bitterness! The Lord had been faithful to her obedience and met her at her place of need, as He will with each one of us, as we give things over to Him.
Okay, are you ready to be free? The best way to get started is to take your list, and get into a very comfortable chair. Curl up and imagine yourself on Abba Father's lap. Then, starting with the very first item on your list, read it aloud - and, as you do, give each part of it to Him - just as Sally did with the example above. It may be painful, but it is freeing. God is faithful to His Word! As we forgive, He frees us! You don't have to do it all at once, if like me, you had a large list, or if it is too overwhelming; but, I believe you'll find that as soon as you start feeling the freedom within, you'll want to be completely free!!!! I know I sure could not wait to give ALL to Him! I spent much time in prayer asking for even more areas that I could give over to Him . . . the freedom felt so wonderful! And, to this day (years, and years after) I am still free . . . yes, I can still remember, but there is no more pain associated with it. God has even allowed me to feel and act in true Christian love from my heart towards those who once wounded me! Dear ones, He can do the same for you, in fact, He longs to!
[*] "Seeking forgiveness is the action of honestly 'seeing' the guilt another is 'holding against me' for my wrong action or attitude toward him, acknowledging it before him without excuse or explanation, and without projecting blame either toward the offended person or toward anyone else related to the incident - then humbly asking forgiveness from the person I have offended."
WHAT SEEKING FORGIVENESS IS NOT:
"Seeking forgiveness is not 'apologizing' for my wrong against another. It is not acting apologietic or shamefaced in manner toward the one whom I have offended. It is not trying to be especially nice or loving toward him / her, or in any way attempting to prove myself worthy of the other's favor. It is not 'being sorry' for what I have done."
Write out what Matthew 5:23 - 26 speak to your heart:
This means that we are to remember another's feelings towards us.
[ ] True [ ] False
This means that we are to go to that person and admit our error in wounding them.
[ ] True [ ] False
Does this say we should go and ask someone's forgiveness for thinking badly about them?
[ ] Yes [ ] No
What if we have said something about them to another, and they are not aware of it - should we ask their forgiveness (according to this scripture)?
[ ] Yes [ ] No
Why or why not?
[*] Notice that the offense to be dealt with is one that is known by the other party. If you have had jealous, or lustful, or angry thoughts or feelings toward another, but the other person is unaware of these, such things are to be confessed to God alone - not to the person against whom they wer held.
Exceptions to this procedure (where the offended is unaware) would be where there is restitution to be made; e.g., something stolen to be returned; something broken paid for; someone's name restored.
Does Matthew 5:23-26 say that I can wait to go and seek forgiveness until it is more comfortable, as long as I do it?
[ ] Yes [ ] No
What does it say about my worship?
[*] "The Process of Seeking forgiveness
A. Regarding each person from whom you need forgiveness, clearly indentify to yourself the offense committed. Write it out, including the attitude behind the offensive action.
B. Make sure you have already forgiven the other of any wrongs on his/her part toward you.
C. Think through the percise wording you will use as you ask for forgiveness.
F. Except where no other means of communication is possible, DO NOT write a letter.
Write out Matthew 5:25-26, what does it say about this?
Write out Romans 12:10 & 16, what do they speak to your heart about how we should be with others?
One more . . . what does Romans 13:8 say?
Dear ones, if we are to keep our debts clear, to put others above ourselves, to be Christ-like in our love towards others, will it not be easier to not have to walk through these steps of "seeking forgiveness" any longer? (at least not so often).
All of the things we've learned during this study can be summed up by living our lives truly as Christ desires us to do.
We are going to wrap things up by hitting a number of Scripture passages that speak directly to a true Christ-like nature. Underneath each reference, please write out the key areas that it addresses, and how it relates to your own life situations.
4-Given Ministries Prays
Join our mailing list today!