Monday, April 17, 2006


I like our mission at CTK a lot: “To create an authentic Christian community that effectively reaches out to unchurch people in love, acceptance and forgiveness so that they may experience the joy of salvation and a purposeful life of discipleship.” I like our mission, but I have to admit that it is hard. Some of the words in that statement are loaded. One, is the word “forgiveness.”

Early in my marriage, as Kristyn and I were about to go to sleep, I did something that wasn't in my best interests....I touched her. I think it was a timing problem, because Kristyn was almost asleep. She was in that semi-conscious stage. I don't know what got into me, but it was at that precise moment that I touched her; and as I recall she went AAAH! And what happened next really hurt.

Which brings me to the subject of forgiveness, because forgiveness is something we all need. We all poke and annoy and disturb. We all get poked and annoyed and disturbed. And the antidote for all of this is forgiveness. Forgiveness can be the cure for so much that ails us.

I'd like for you to think for a minute, and place a mental checkmark next to any of the following hurts that you may have experienced. Have you....

Been Lied to

Had a promise broken

Been neglected by grown children

Suffered violent crime against yourself or a loved one

Been treated unfairly by an employer

Seen your parents divorced

Been slandered, or falsely accused

Been divorced by a mate

Had a mate commit adultery or other sexual sin

Been rejected by parents

Been stolen from

Been cheated in a business/financial deal

Had a rebellious/wayward son or daughter

Been belittled

Suffered an alcoholic parent or mate

Been publicly humiliated

Been abused (physically, emotionally, sexually, spiritually)

If so, then you need to know something about forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not mean that we will cease to hurt. Forgiveness does not mean that we will forget. Forgiveness is not pretending that the offense did not really matter. Forgiveness is not acting as if things are just the same as before the offense. Forgiveness does not mean that we will tolerate this behavior in the future (I love C.S. Lewis’ statement that “There are some things which we can forgive, that we cannot tolerate”).

Forgiveness is letting it go. It is remembering it, but remembering it differently. It is “remembering redemptively.” Forgiveness means that this real and horrible offense will not be allowed to be “the end of the story.” It means that we will no longer allow the offense to drive a wedge between us, hurting and injuring one another, or others. It means that the power of love is greater than the power of the offense. It means there is hope for the future.

In forgiveness we release our offenders so that they are no longer bound to us. In a very real sense, we are freeing them to receive God's grace. It sets them free, and sets us free, as well. Bitterness is an acid that destroys the container in which it is kept.

When Paul wrote the church in Corinth in 2 Corinthians 2 he was speaking to some people who were having a hard time letting go of what a man in their group had done. Paul instructed the church to grant the man forgiveness for two reasons. One is for the encouragement of the sinner: “Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him (v.7,8).” The other reason is for the defeat of Satan: “When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes (v.10,11).”

Satan evidently takes a personal interest in seeing that unforgiveness is perpetuated. He distorts our thinking, and “outsmarts” us on this one. Neil Anderson says, “Most of the ground that Satan gains in the lives of Christians is due to unforgiveness.” I agree with that.

Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive, as we did during the war. And then, to mention the subject at all is to be greeted with howls of anger. It is not that people think this too high and difficult a virtue: it is that they think it hateful and contemptible. ‘That sort of talk makes me sick,’ they say. And half of them already want to ask me, ‘I wonder how you’d feel about forgiving the Gestapo if you were a Pole or a Jew?’ So do I. I wonder very much. - C.S. Lewis, Learning in War-Time

Here is a small group study on forgiveness....

Matthew 18:21-35
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. "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. "The servant fell on his knees before him. `Be patient with me,' he begged, `and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. `Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, `Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. "Then the master called the servant in. `You wicked servant,' he said, `I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

1. To whom do you say “I’m sorry” the most?

2. Do you tend to be more like the master who forgave (v. 27) or the servant who wouldn’t forgive (v. 30)?

3. When you get hurt in relationships, what do you usually do?

q have it out with the person

q sulk for three days

q withdraw into myself

q cry on someone’s shoulder

q try to look at it from the other person’s point of view

q watch reruns all night

q complain to God

q other: ____________________

4. Is there someone you are working on forgiving?

5. How can we support each other in prayer?

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