Forgiving grace (part I)

(The following is an outline of the sermon preached by Michael Larsen on Feb 24, 2019.)

If you've been forgiven by God, He wants you to forgive others. Jesus said it like this in Matthew 10:8 " Freely you have received, freely give.” Whatever you've been given by God you are to offer to others. 

What is forgiveness really? How do we give forgiveness to other people? Today we're going to look at what forgiveness isn't. The Bible says there are five things that forgiveness is not. 

1. Forgiveness is not conditional.

In other words, real forgiveness is not something you earn. It is not something you deserve. 

2. It isn't minimizing the seriousness of the offense.

Real forgiveness is not saying, "It's no big deal. It really didn't hurt. Don't worry about it. There's a difference between being wronged and being wounded. Wounds are unintentional. Wrongs are intentional. Wounds require is acceptance. If someone hurts you intentionally, you've been seriously wronged, that's what you need to forgive. 

3. Forgiveness is not resuming a relationship without change.

Forgiveness is not the same thing as reconciliation. They're two different issues. 

Forgiveness is instant, but trust has to be rebuilt over time. It takes more than forgiveness for reconciliation. Three other things. If you want to have a restored relationship with someone, first comes forgiveness--that's your part if you've been hurt. But on their part it takes three other things: 1) repentance, demonstrating genuine repentance, 2) restitution where and when possible, 3) rebuilding trust. Rebuilding trust takes time. 

4. Real forgiveness is not forgetting what happened.

The only way you forget something is by replacing it with something else. There's something far better than forgetting. It's remembering and realizing the sovereign grace of God is working. As it says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

5. Forgiveness isn't my right when I wasn't the one that was hurt. 

Only the victim can pronounce forgiveness to the person who has offended them. If you weren't hurt, it's not your place to proclaim the forgiveness. There are consequences for our sin that are separate from forgiveness. 

Next time we’ll look at what real forgiveness is and how to offer it.