(The following is an outline of the message that was preached by Michael Larsen on March 3, 2019.)
WHAT IS REAL FORGIVENESS?
1. REMEMBERING HOW MUCH I'VE BEEN FORGIVEN.
Ephesians 4:32 tells us to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
2. RELINQUISHING MY RIGHT TO GET EVEN
Romans 12:19 says, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
3. RESPONDING TO EVIL WITH GOOD
Luke 6:27-28 "Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you." How can you tell when you've genuinely forgiven them? You can pray for God to bless them.
4. REPEATING THE PROCESS AS LONG AS NECESSARY
How long do you have to keep forgiving a person? You do it as long as the feeling of revenge keeps coming back. Peter asked that question of Jesus in Matthew 18:21-22: Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive someone who sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. The point is, you continue to forgive for as long as it takes. You have to keep forgiving that person until the pain stops and the desire to get revenge goes away.
“Why should I forgive that person who hurt me so much?”
You ought to do it for three reasons.
1. I need to be gracious to others, to forgive others who've hurt me because God has been gracious to me.
2. Because the alternative is bitterness. It always hurts you more than anybody else. Hebrews 12:15, "See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."
3. God expects you to do it. Jesus said this in Matthew 6:15, “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”