The Art of Forgiveness (01)
The Art of Forgiveness (part 1)
Matthew 6:14-15: For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
There is no more foundational pursuit in living as a Christian than receiving and conveying forgiveness. This is the most direct transaction of our faith in Jesus. The necessity of practicing the art of forgiveness is plainly taught by Christ (Mt. 5:23, 6:14, 18:1-35). His death was to provide the just basis for our forgiveness and to empower us to forgive others. Through this giving of ourselves because of Christ’s giving of Himself, we provide a deeply spiritual sacrifice for others. We have been forgiven so much, how could we not be enabled to forgive others? Moreover, we are warned by Jesus that if we do not forgive, God will not forgive us (Mt. 6:14, 18:35). When we take initiative in the process of reconciliation, this empowers us to be ready to forgive and to pursue peace with the right spirit (Eph. 4:32). This short series will build on this foundation and aim to provide very simple lessons in wisdom to empower us to walk in this forgiveness.
1) We must actively renew our minds in the foundation of forgiveness. The key is having a genuine understanding of Christ’s work, life, death, resurrection, ascension. Then knowing that is for you. Can you verbalize this in biblical and theological terms?
2) We must become responsible for our own identity in Christ. This requires the steadfastness of putting on the thick skin, even the armor, of acceptance with God. This means that we impute offenses to others much less than if we depend upon our view of self, from the acceptance and approval of others. Is this the basis for your handling offenses?
3) We must take the initiative to seek forgiveness from those who we have legitimately offended. In this way, we take responsibility for a clear conscience with others. In doing this, we show that our approval before God is more important than what others think of us. When we are troubled, we can act to have clear conscience or a seared conscience. Is your conscience clear or troubled or seared?
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more