Bella Vista Church of Christ



Randall Caselman


Forgiving Others


“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."


  This is not just a prayer to be mouthed, but a prayer to be lived. It contains the essence of our Christianity, the basics of our faith. Read it again, see if you don't agree.


  Let's consider the phrase; "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." Jesus goes on to say, "If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sin, your Father will not forgive you your sins."


  Lewis Smedes in his book, "The Art Of Forgiving" says, every act, every act, of forgiveness must involve at least three elements:


Forgiveness is understanding the humanity of the person who has wronged us. We're not likely to forgive others until we swallow our pride understanding that they are human like us, and that we have probably done as much or worse things to others.


Forgiveness is surrendering our right and desire to get even or punish the individual who has offended us.


Forgiveness demands that we revise our feelings toward the person, and that we are now open to a new relationship based upon mutual respect for one another.


Some things we need to consider...


  Forgiveness is a personal choice. Forgiveness is not a feeling; it's an act of the will because it takes place inside of the person doing the forgiving. It's a determinate choice on our part to do what God has asked us to do. It's a choice on our part to endure the suffering of wrong, rather than seeking revenge and retribution. Listen folk, unlike reconciliation, forgiveness only takes one; that’s us. –That’s us! "Well, they haven’t asked. They haven’t apologized. They don’t deserve my forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn't depend on the behavior of the one who hurt us. We can forgive anytime we choose. Forgiveness is a gift!


• Esau forgave Jacob without being asked.

• Joseph forgave his brothers before any sign of repentance.

• David forgave Saul while he was still in pursuit of him.

• Jesus said, "forgive them, they know not what they do."

• Stephen asked God to forgive these hurling the stones killing him.


  Indeed, Genuine Biblical forgiveness is a choice we make.


  Does forgiveness demand that we forget? Obviously there's no way to purge our memory of an offense. And the deeper the hurt, the more difficult it is to keep the memory from coming to mind. We can’t just strike a delete key and our minds go blank. Forgiveness simply means we have removed the offense, the hurt, out of the picture for the future.


  How often should we be willing to forgive another? Peter asked the questions; Jesus responded with "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven." Forgiveness is unnatural in our world economy. We don't forgive, we get even. But Jesus teaches us to pardon, and to do so indefinitely. Forgiveness permits no score cards. This thought is echoed by Paul in First Corinthians 13.5 when he wrote, "Love keeps no record of wrongs suffered."


  Why should we forgive? Two reasons, 1 - Because God commands it. 2 - So that we can be forgiven. Listen as Scripture speaks: "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" Colossians 3.12-13. "When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins" Mark 11.25. "Forgive, and you will be forgiven" Luke 6.36. Is there any doubt that the Bible teaches that our forgiveness from God is directly linked to our forgiving one another? Recently I heard a preacher say without hesitation, this was not what Jesus meant. How could he say that? Read our prayer and these verses again!


  We ought to forgive because relationships are worth it. An unforgiving spirit: Causes divorce; Robs us of a close relationship with our children; Alienates us from our parents; Divides churches; Destroys friendships; And keeps us from enjoying the fellowship God created us for. I love the true story Rubel Shelly used to tell about forgiveness. A woman walked down the church aisle, confessed her sin of marital infidelity. Tears streamed down her cheek as the preacher read her statement. Then there was movement in the audience. An individual came putting their hand lovingly around her shoulder, comforting her. Hugged her closely. It was her husband. Folk, that’s forgiveness! Genuine Biblical forgiveness!


  How many people do we know today who are unhappy, joyless, even miserable, simply because they are holding a grudge; they have not, will not, have no intention of forgiving others.


—Randall Caselman