Forgiving Our Enemies
A. We are to love our enemy and do good to them. (Luke 6:35, 37; Prov. 25:21-22; Ex. 23:4,5)
B. We are not to rejoice in their downfall. (Prov. 24:27)
C. We are to bless them. (Rom. 12:14-21)
D. We are not to seek revenge.
F. We are to forgive our debtors as Christ forgave
us. (Mt. 6:12-15)
Forgiving Our Brothers & Sisters in Christ
A. We are to forgive our brother.
(John 20:23) (I don’t understand this totally.)
A. Payment has to be made for the sins we commit against God.
“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.” (Matthew 21-35)Conclusion
I believe the issue of forgiveness is relationship. We cannot be in relationship with another when there is unrepentance and/or unforgiveness between us.
Christ holds forgiveness out to us with outstretched arms. He does not harbor any ill feelings, resentment, or bitterness toward us. He does not seek to see us punished, yet his forgiveness is not ours until we repent. Repentance, I believe, is not only being truly sorry for sins committed against God, but also involves the decision to turn from those sins and live as he would have us to live.
If we followed his example, we would be ready and willing to forgive, guarding against resentment and bitterness lest they take root in our hearts. When the one who has wronged us repents, we would be ready to extend the forgiveness that has already taken place inside. I also believe forgiveness is a process and doesn’t necessarily happen all at once. Christ knows our hearts, therefore, knows if we are truly repentant. We don’t know people’s hearts, so we can only judge by their changed behavior, etc.
The issue of forgiveness does not override, or wipe out the wrong-doers’s responsibility for his/her actions, nor does it take away the consequences. I do believe if we have forgiven, we will no longer desire to see the person punished on our behalf, and yet there are circumstances when corrective measures must be sought in order to protect others. I believe we can be truly forgiving, and at the same time seek to see someone put in prison. I find no scripture to support letting offenders off the hook when serious offenses have been committed. When Christ forgives us, we escape the penalty of death for our sins, but we usually still pay the consequences for that sin.
There is a difference in scripture between our enemy and our brother concerning accountability and forgiveness. Again, I believe this is due to the fact that those who don’t believe are not bound by the law of Christ nor understand it; they are not in continual relationship with us, but do need our example of forgiveness. Our brother is someone we do want fellowship with, however (or should want fellowship). Also, in regards to our enemies, there is the knowledge that God will take care of them, and who can better serve justice than He.
I believe we have erred in the church today by telling each other to forgive, yet, not requiring each other to repent. Both must be taught and practiced in order for there to be true fellowship with one another.
Christ doesn’t take forgiveness lightly, and I don’t believe he expects us to either. He gave his life that we might be forgiven. Our sin had to be atoned for. We can more easily forgive our brother when we realize what it took for us to receive God’s forgiveness.
Our forgiveness toward others must not be taken lightly, either. If it is, it becomes cheap forgiveness.
If unforgiveness rules your heart and you still want to keep it that way, I would strongly advise you to read again the parable of the servant who was forgiven but didn’t forgive. He was forgiven what today would be millions of dollars. There was no way he could repay it in his lifetime. And his master forgave his debt and set him free. What did he do, he went to another servant who owed him a couple bucks and demanded payment. He had the man thrown in prison because he couldn’t pay. To look at this in terms of your life, you have to be in touch with what God forgave you for. He forgave every single one of your sins for your entire lifetime, including the fact that his son had to suffer and die for your sins. What a slap in his face to turn around and refuse to forgive another one of his children after what he did for you.
by Annie Nelson
forgiveness graphic by: