The Service will also include Communion
“I cannot forgive” is an all too common phrase because forgiveness is something than seems so unnatural, defying as it does the primal instinct for revenge and retribution. But forgiveness is not “mission impossible;” although never easy, it is achievable with the following incentives:-
1 – Forgiveness is COMMANDED.
We are to forgive because God in his Word mandates us to
forgive (Ephesians 4 v 32 & Colossians 3 v 13) so that we relate to one another in exactly the same way in which he relates to us, with our forgiveness being linked to the forgiveness of others (Matthew 6 v 12.)
2 – Forgiveness is COMMENDED.
There was a time when we lived without reference to God, but then God broke into our lives (Romans 5 v 8) cancelled our debt and forgave our sin, enabling us to be – “lost in wonder love and praise” at the glory of it, just like the Apostle Paul
(1 Timothy 1 v 15) and the sinful woman (Luke 7 v 36 – 50.) Those who have been forgiven so much, need out of gratitude to forgive others.
3 – Forgiveness is CONSTRUCTIVE.
A refusal to forgive will result in us “torturing” ourselves (Matthew 18 v 34 – 35) in body, mind and spirit, because un-forgiveness is incredibly toxic and destructive, hurting the hater more than the hated. So for our own health and sense of well being we need to free ourselves from the handcuffs of hatred and the bonds of bitterness. But how?
4 – Forgiveness is CHOICE.
It is not forgetting; it is not sweeping issues under the carpet saying that they don’t matter; it is not waiting for the other person to see the folly of their ways and apologise; to forgive from the heart (Matthew 18 v 35) two steps need to be taken:-
A – Recognition.
We must be emotionally honest about what has been done to us, how much it has hurt us and how angry and bitter we feel. Painful as it is, we are to confront the reality rather than be in denial about what has happened.
B – Release.
Forgiveness is not an emotion, which means we will never “feel” like forgiving. Instead it is a decision, an act of will where we decide to forgive and then hand the matter over to God to take responsibility for discipline and punishment (Romans 12 v 19.) When we supply the willingness, God will provide the power to enable forgiveness to be released.
Challenge – Take some time out to allow the Holy Spirit to bring to mind anyone that you need to forgive. As a name surfaces, acknowledge what the person has done, as well as how it made you feel, then choose to forgive them.
Theme: “The Bondage of Bitterness, or the Freedom of Forgiveness?”
Reading: Matthew 18 v 21 – 35
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Chris Hughes