Lesson Text: Matt. 18:21-35, Mark 11:25-26, Matt. 5:22-26, Matthew 5:39-4, Matt. 6:9-12, Luke 17:3-5, 2 Cor. 2: 7-10
As humans there is no way we will live together without offending one another. There are some offences that seem to be so grievous and we think ‘I can’t forget this one’ but this morning Jesus is saying to you ‘LET GO’.
What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a compassionate feeling that supports a willingness to forgive. It is also an act of excusing a mistake or an offence.
There are three perspectives from which I look at forgiveness:

1. God-to-man
2. Man-to-man
3. Self
Today we will lay emphasis on forgiving others (man-to-man) 
Why should I forgive?
Besides saying that forgiveness is important, I want to mention two practical reasons why forgiveness is important.
First, forgiveness is important because God’s forgiveness of us is dependent on our forgiving others. Look at what the Bible has to say about this concept:
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mk 11:25-26 NKJV)
The second reason forgiveness is important is because our spiritual freedom depends on our forgiving others. Whenever you harbor unforgiveness in your heart you will be in bondage. You will not have freedom when you try to worship. 
“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Mt. 5:22-23 NKJV)
Unforgiveness hinders worship.
Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it makes you free.
Forgiveness acknowledges that there was a wrong committed.
Some people are quick to discount the idea of forgiveness because they think it’s a type of pretending that nothing happened – “It’s no big deal,” “Oh, don’t worry about it,” etc.
Actually, that’s not true at all. When you honestly confront the idea of forgiveness, that very act puts you in a place where you are acknowledging that a wrong was done – something that’s bad enough to need forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not acting as if a wrong was not important. Forgiveness is confrontation. Forgiveness requires admitting that a serious wrong was done against you.
Forgiveness changes your status from victim to victor.
When someone does something hurtful to us, we are the victim of their meanness or their thoughtlessness. We sometimes believe that there is nothing we can do about our victim status, but that’s not true.
When we forgive, we are no longer powerless; we are no longer the ones who have merely been acted upon. When we forgive, we boldly stand and say, “You will not dictate the way I respond; you will not dictate who I am.”
See Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:39-41.
“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil:but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”
The forgiving nature of those actions takes power away from the one who would dictate our actions.
Forgiveness makes sense for people who have needed, do need, and will need forgiveness.
We like to focus on the immediate situation and dwell on the wrong done to us. We often devise harsh and merciless responses to those who hurt us. But if we look at the bigger picture, we are not the only ones to whom wrong has been done, we also are often the ones who have done wrong to others.
We had best consider the parable that Jesus told in Matt. 18:21-35.
Forgiveness is not Jesus’ suggestion.
Matthew 18:21-35 and numerous other passages make it clear that forgiveness is Jesus’ command.
Consider a couple of biblical examples.
Example: In Genesis chapters 40-50 we find the story of a man named Joseph. Joseph was the eleventh of twelve children. While he was still a boy Joseph was sold as a slave. He was carried away against his will and spent many years living in a foreign land. When that story played itself out Joseph had the last laugh. He turned out to be a powerful political leader and his brothers stood before him seeking his help. When they realized his identity they were stricken with fear. Joseph displayed a God sized character in that situation. He said “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Gen. 50:19-21 NKJV)”
Joseph displayed a remarkable ability to forgive his brothers in spite of years of pain and hurt.
Example: Another example of forgiveness is found in the life of David, who became the king of Israel. At one point David was hunted by Saul, his adversary, as if he were a wild animal. On several occasions David could have secretly killed his adversary but he did not. He chose, rather, to forgive. Listen to what he said
“The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.” (I Sam. 24:6 NKJV
The ultimate example of forgiveness is Jesus Christ. As he hung on the cross he prayed a prayer of forgiveness, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Lk. 23:34)
Acknowledge that you have been seriously hurt.
The starting point in pursuing forgiveness is to admit that you’ve really been hurt. We like to pretend like what he said didn’t really bother us or what she did didn’t even move us, but until we are willing to admit that we were hurt by them, we’re not in a place where we can begin to pursue forgiveness.
At this point, as we hurt, we are likely to find some hatred in our heart. Hatred, of course, is never a good thing, but we must be careful that we don’t try to get rid of it by covering it up. When we find that hate in our heart, that’s simply a sign that we need to forgive.
Surrender your right to get even.
Few would dispute our right to get even. The rule of the world is ‘do unto others as they’ve done unto you.’
When we choose to forgive, though, we choose to lay aside our right to extract our revenge. In the moment of making that decision, we are doing a couple of things: 1. We are leaving ultimate justice and vengeance to God, and 2. We are deliberately choosing for ourselves the path of forgiveness. 
This is the first step down a different path. 
Acknowledging that we have been hurt gets in the right place to begin, but surrendering our right to get even is the first step down the path.
Some would argue that choosing such a path is inevitably going to make us a patsy – we’re yielding all our power and are going to end up as a doormat. I believe, though, that there is a power that is unleashed in this decision that cannot come from any other source.
Search for the real person beneath the evil mask.
When we have been wronged, we like to caricature our wrongdoer. We emphasize all the bad things about them, we twist anything that looks remotely good, we are quick to impugn their every motive, and we see them only and always in one way.
The process of forgiveness requires that we begin to look for the real person behind the caricature we’ve created in our minds. We begin to see that they have not only hurt, they have been hurt. We begin to see that they are weak, needy, and fallible. We begin to find reasons for our hearts to turn toward mercy instead of malice. 
This doesn’t mean we grant them victim status and excuse all their wrong – we’re forgiving, not excusing. It does mean that we begin to try to treat them as another participant in this messy thing called life.
What is our motivation for doing this? As our passage points out, we are doing for them what God did for us. God could have simply seen our sin and said, “I’ve seen enough, that’s all I need to know about them.” But God looked beyond our sin and saw something worth loving. And that’s what we’ve been called to do as well.
Desire that good things would happen to your wrongdoer.
In the process of forgiveness, we move from dreaming of bad things befalling them towards hoping for good things in their life.
At this point, it might be helpful to address a related question: does forgiving mean there’s no punishment? 
The answer to that is, No, forgiving does not necessarily mean there should not be punishment. 
If possible, enjoy the healed relationship.
Sometimes the other person can’t join you in moving towards reconciliation (for example, in forgiving a parent now passed on).
For reconciliation to happen, they must understand the pain that they’ve caused you and must be sorrowful over it.
But when they are, make sure you enjoy the healing and the renewed relationship that can only come through forgiveness.

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