The Pathway to Forgiveness


 

Peninsula Community Church

The Pathway to Forgiveness

January 8, 2012

 

Mat 6:12 …. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Defining Forgiveness – In the writings of David Augsburger, he suggests that forgiveness requires a process of letting go. The root meaning of forgiveness in biblical terms refers to “releasing” or “letting go.” The literal meaning of forgive is “to send away” or “dismiss.”

Before we begin this study there must be an understanding that forgiveness is not dependent on the other person. In fact, I can forgive and walk in forgiveness regardless of what the other person does. Therefore, we must not confuse forgiveness with reconciliation. And yet, forgiveness does not mean that we forget or ignore the pain that the wound has caused, it simply means that we forgive so that we can deal with the issues that brought unforgiveness in a positive and genuine way.

The first step in this pathway to forgiveness is for us to realize that we all have opportunity to forgive and be forgiven and that we are all affected by both unforgiveness and forgiveness.

Theme of Forgiveness runs throughout Scripture – In this discussion we must understand that forgiveness is one of the many themes that run throughout Scripture. From cover to cover the Bible shows the way of forgiveness and it gives its readers multiple illustrations of what effective forgiveness means and how it is to be transacted in one’s life. It also shows us ultimate forgiveness as seen in the death of Christ on the Cross. You see forgiveness and the redemption of mankind has always been the goal and at the heart of Christ.

We have all experienced a need to negotiate forgiveness. Everyone one of us have been in that place where we have either wounded or hurt someone else or we have been wounded or hurt. There are no exceptions. The degree of to which you have been wounded may differ but there has been woundedness in all of us and it is that wound that requires us to forgive.

Antidotal stories – We have all been impacted by the need to forgive or be forgiven. We could share a whole list of antidotal scenarios to understand this. You may remember the story of the Amish in Nickel Mines, PA. It was in this tiny community that a man stormed into a one-room schoolhouse and shot 10 young girls, killing five of them. Since the tragedy, people around the world have been amazed and inspired by the way the Amish have expressed forgiveness toward the killer and his family. Charles Roberts was not Amish. He was the milk truck driver but the Amish collected money for the family even in the midst of their own tragedy. Donald Kraybill, is a sociologist at nearby Elizabethtown College and co-author of Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy. “I think the most powerful demonstration of the depth of Amish forgiveness was when members of the Amish community went to the killer’s burial service at the cemetery,” Kraybill says. “Several families, Amish families who had buried their own daughters just the day before were in attendance and they hugged the widow, and hugged other members of the killer’s family.”

We can also include other such times where forgiveness may have been needed in our lives:

  1. The mom who was murdered by intruders.
  2. The brother who stole money from the family.
  3. The sister’s drug problem and her abandonment of her family and children.
  4. The cutting and biting remarks of a parent.
  5. The rejection of divorce or the shame of abuse.
  6. The betrayal of a friend in whom you have confided.
  7. The wrongs and sins committed against others.

We all stand in the need to give and receive forgiveness. The reason for this is multifaceted for the following reasons.

  • We have a carnal nature. We have a propensity to sin and to hurt others. Even in the best of us there something that brings out hurt and wounds. We do not intend to. For most us we do not wake up in the morning and say “what a great day to make someone mad at me.”
  • We interact with other people who are different from us. The fact is just because we are created differently we are candidates to hurt and wound those around us and to be hurt or wounded by those we encounter.
    • We have different personalities that form and shape used determine how we respond to the issues of life.
    • We have different temperaments that cause us to react to various stimuli in totally different ways.
    • We also have a difference in the experiences that have shaped us. How we saw others respond to issues of conflict will most likely be the way we respond.
  • We live with ourselves. Too often we have not learned to forgive ourselves much less forgive others for the wrongs we have committed. James 4:1-3 says it best –What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. The problem that exists too often is that we love to use our wounds and hurts to our advantage because we feel justified in our anger toward others.
  • We cannot forget that we have an enemy who loves to bring division, hurt and pain into our lives and our relationships. 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour

     

When we walk in unforgiveness we allow others to dictate how we live.

  • We avoid others. We will change our seat in the sanctuary to avoid sitting next to the person that has hurt us. We will leave a church because of an offense.
  • We falsely transfer our hurt to others. Instead of dealing with unforgiveness we often transfer that hurt to others and in the process we end up hurting others. The fact is that hurt people hurt people.
  • We spend an inordinate
    amount of time thinking about the person and in considering ways to get even. Our focus becomes “how do we get even?” or we focus on the pain to the point that we cannot get anything else done.

But what release comes when we walk in forgiveness and release others and ourselves from the pain. Where do you hold unforgiveness today? Who controls you today because you have not released them from their failures? Remember that forgiveness is for the one forgiving and not you.

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