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In this message we’ll look at issues of forgiveness. In God’s kingdom, forgiving others is not optional. “Oh, I’ll never forgive them.” “After what they said and did, no way.” Christ followers have been called to a new way of living. We must forgive. We’ll look at issues of forgiveness: Why forgive? How do we forgive? Do we have to forget? How do I know if I’ve really forgiven someone?

Scriptures – Mt 18:21-35, Ephesians 4:32, Job 21:23-25

Mt 18:26-27 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.”

The rabbis in Jesus day taught that you had to forgive a person up to three times. When Peter brought up the topic of forgiveness with Jesus in Matthew 18 he doubled that number and added one. Matt. 18:21-35 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” (vs. 21).

In essence he wants to be recognized for his compassion and generosity. Jesus responds with an answer that surprised everyone. Jesus answered, “…Not seven times but 77 times!” (vs 22). Jesus teaching on forgiveness is that it’s to be constant and consistent. You must learn to forgive because God has forgiven you, because resentment makes you miserable and not forgiving someone leads to resentment, and because you will need forgiveness in the future.

Are you struggling to forgive someone? Explain. How has holding onto the hurt helped you? When you do something wrong do you want others to forgive you? Explain. God has forgiven you of your sin are you struggling to forgive yourself? How would you respond to the three tests below?

There are three simple tests you can take to recognize whether you are dealing with issues of forgiveness.
1.The blame test: Do you blame anybody else in the world for your unhappiness? Who are you blaming? That is an indication of resentment. Life would be so much better if… Blame is an indication of bitterness. You need to let it go.
2.Have you been keeping score? Is there a mental balance in your mind that every time they do “something” you say “They owe me one”? You need to let it go.
3.Do you ever find yourself reacting toward someone, not because of what they’ve done, but because they remind you of somebody else you resent? You need to let it go.

Dear Lord, thank you for forgiving me of my sin. Your grace and patience is truly amazing. Help me to forgive those who have sinned against me and release the hurts to you. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.