This week – forgive & forget



When it comes to forgiveness, forgiven people forgive people (like Hurt people hurt people)

– the state of forgiveness (being forgiven) is the mostly liberating, most freeing thing


it means to cancel a debt (borrowed from the finance world)


– makes it sound simple, hey?


– and yet there is so much we get wrong about forgiveness



Common misunderstandings around forgiveness:

  1. It means to go on as if nothing ever happened

pretending all is ok

  1. Forgiveness means a fresh start

– which would mean you can’t make decisions based on past events if you’ve forgiven

– you might have a hard time forgiving someone cause you don’t want a fresh start

– or you might think you’ve been forgiven, so you can no do whatever you want

  1. Forgiveness forgets it ever happened

– not just pretending somehow, but completely forgetting

– this can also be a barrier to forgiving someone

  1. Justifying, rationalising, or explaining away their sin
  2. Acting as if there was no offense
  3. Necessarily reconciliation


Another barrier to forgiveness:

– you don’t WANT to forgive!

– you want to remind yourself what has been done to you

– or you convince yourself you SHOULDNT be forgiven for what you’ve done

– and if you can’t forget.. Then you can’t be forgiven or have forgiveness, right?


Here’s why – you can’t CHOOSE to forget!

– in fact the more you try, the more you’ll remember, because you’ll keep it top of mind.


But forgiveness is ALWAYS a choice

– can be the hardest gift to give, because we love holding on to grievances

  1. As an excuse to do/to not do something
  2. For that feeling of superiority
  3. Because we feel loss, and holding onto the hurt makes us feel like it wasn’t for nothing
  4. Because it doesn’t right the wrong
  5. A longing for revenge


– Parable of King and unforgiving servant –

Matthew 18:21-35

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”

22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.

24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.

25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.

26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’

27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’

29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’

30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.

31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.

32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.

33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’

34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.

35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”


[Luke 17:3-4 “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,

4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”]



So when we forgive:

  1. We lose our rights to/not to do something
  2. We have no feelings of superiority, because we recognise our own sin and need of forgiveness
  3. We grieve the loss, but don’t hold it against them, and don’t hold onto the pain of it
  4. We know that Jesus can restore all things
  5. Vengeance belongs to God.. In fact, not only do we give up our longing for revenge, we can pray for and seek the good of those who wrong us.


Col 3

Jer 31:34/Heb8:12/Heb 10:17

– And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor

and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’

for they shall all know me,

from the least of them to the greatest.

12For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,

and I will remember their sins no more.”

– here “remember” means ‘to return to’

– God won’t count your sin against you (Love does not count up wrongdoing 1cor 13:5)


We have a tendency to undercount our own sins, but keep a very accurate record of the offences of another against us.


– Revisit Parable of the King who brings his accounts up to date..


We are obliged to forgive – consider the Lord’s Prayer “forgive us as we forgive” – this is not a typo.. It shows how seriously God takes forgiveness.



– Avoid bitterness at all costs!

– Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

– Keller “bitterness is believing God got it wrong”



Again we see, forgiven people forgive people


– forgiveness doesn’t require you to forget.. It doesn’t require you to pretend nothing happened.. it doesn’t require you to continue relationship in the same way as before.. it doesn’t mean you

– but it does mean you don’t count that sin against them anymore, it does mean you move past the offence, it does mean you relinquish all rights to vengeance, bitterness, ill-will and superiority, and because you do – you live in the freedom not just of the forgiveness you received, but the forgiveness you give.

– in the same way that God now holds no sin against you, you do likewise (and become like Him!)



Tim Keller “Turn the other cheek does not mean you let people walk all over you. Absolutely not. Paul didn’t; he appealed to Caesar. Jesus didn’t; he protested when he was struck. ‘Hey, this is illegal,’ he said. The Bible always says you uphold justice for the sake of justice, but you let God be the judge. You give over the ultimate judgment of that person’s character to God and you go after justice without any vengefulness in your heart. You forgive.”


  1. Matthew 5:23-24 NIV

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

  1. Matthew 6:14-15 NIV

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

  1. Matthew 18: 21-22 NIV

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

  1. Luke 6:37 NIV

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

  1. Luke 17:3-4 NIV

So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says , ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

  1. Luke 23:33-34 NIV

When they came to a place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

  1. John 8:7 NIV

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”



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