The Pathway to Forgiveness – Giving the Gift of Forgiveness

Peninsula Community Church

The Pathway to Forgiveness – The Process

The Giving of Forgiveness as a Gift

February 12, 2012


John 20:21-23 – Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

As we continue to understand the pathway to forgiveness we must come to a place where we understand that showing empathy does not in itself guarantee forgiveness but another step is requested. While empathy allows us to see the wrong done from another’s perspective it does not in itself bring healing. The next step is to give forgiveness as a gift. A gift is something that is given without any expectation of reproposity. It is given to show love and commitment.

As we take this journey there will always be a tension between doing what is right and living out the emotions that drive us. We must choose to do the right thing because it is the right thing.

There must come a time that we begin to act out forgiveness. Rather than just talk the talk we need to put our talk into action so that can actually forgive.

Let us look at two primary steps in offering forgiveness for a moment:

  • First we need to remember God’s forgiveness. How many of us really understand the vastness of God’s forgiveness for us. Do you remember the moment you received Christ or a moment where He forgave you of some sin or wrong committed. As we have discussed already we know that forgiveness is a thread that runs throughout scripture. It is very much a part of the Biblical story as any other of the vivid stories of God’s forgiveness. The story of Moses wanted to see God’s glory but what he got was a vision of God’s character. The children of Israel had rebelled and in essence denied God and rejected Moses leadership. In a moment of desperation Moses called out for God to show him his glory.
    • When Moses wanted to see God, what God revealed was His character. We see this in Exodus 34:5-7 The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
      • Merciful
      • Gracious
      • Slow to anger
      • Abounding in steadfast love
      • Forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin
      • But he does not allow sin to go unpunished
    • We are called to forgive others as God has forgiven us. Throughout the New Testament we have a connection between God’s forgiveness and our forgiveness of others.
      • Matt 6:11-15 – Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
      • Mark 11:25-26 – And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” [But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses.]
      • Luke 6:37 – “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;
      • Luke 11:3-4 – Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”
      • Colossians 3:13 – bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
      • Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
    • What does this mean? We are beginning to forgive as God has forgiven us as God has forgiven us. To whom much is given much is required. When we understand what God has done for us we cannot help but forgive others. God forgave us not because we deserved it but because he loved us and desired to see the best for us.
  • Secondly, we need to recall another’s forgiveness of us. Sometimes it is hard to imagine God’s forgiveness as it seems so distant and far from us but when we recall the power of another’s forgiveness, we can be overwhelmed and humbled. When we forgive others we find that we are stronger and freer in our relationships with others. In essence when we understand how much we have been forgiven we will want to forgive others.

Unforgiveness brings shame and hurt but we can be surprised by the act of forgiveness. The fact is God surprises us by His forgiveness and we are surprised by the effects of the forgiveness of others. We must step out by faith to give forgiveness.

True forgiveness is an altruistic gift which is an unselfish regard for another. It is giving something simply for the good of the other person. It is a love that thinks of others rather than oneself. While forgiving others positively effects you it is a gift to the other person so that whether the gift is received or not it is ok because we gave it out of the heart and for the right motivation.

  • Guilt and shame – To forgive we must push past the guilt and shame that comes from the pain we feel. Too often the shame we feel and have experienced keeps us from moving toward a process of healing. In our shame we attempt to cover up what needs to be done. If we wait for our emotions to be right we will probably never forgive others. Our guilt and shame can be a hindrance to our recovery.
  • Gratitude – When we give gifts of forgiveness and receive gifts of forgiveness we develop a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving. Many who have walked this path have made professions such as:
    • There was a giant weight lifted off of my shoulders.
    • I felt that the chains that enslaved me were cut off and that I was free.
    • Gratitude became the norm.
  • Gift There is a point were we must take a step toward forgiveness. We offer forgiveness to those who do not deserve it because it is the right thing to do. We offer the gift of forgiveness to others because it is the example that Christ gave us. We offer the gift of forgiveness because we give gifts not expecting anything in return but because it is just that a gift. A gift is a gift because we give it and do not expect anything in return. There are times when we give gifts to those that cannot give any gift back to us. This includes forgiveness as well. It will cost us but it is worth it.  

One of the most beautiful stories of forgiveness is found in the story of Les Miserables. Jean Valjean one of the key characters in the story could give forgiveness because he had received forgiveness from Monsignor Bienvenue One of the most poignant moments in the play was when Jean Valjean had the opportunity to have Inspector Javert killed but because he remembered the power of forgiveness he received for the Monsignor and instead of taking revenge he walked in forgiveness and released Javert. He every right to have him killed but he chose rather to walk in forgiveness.





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