One More Thought

I like it when I buy something that comes with a handy little instruction manual; and the fewer the steps, the more I like it. Actually, if it’s written using simple language anyone can understand, it’s even better yet! But the best manuals are the ones that include pictures. Then, I really have hope that I can put things together and make it work.

This is Pastor Tom with One More Thought from our current series, A Call to Freedom (Philemon vv.17-25). Like you, I believe the Bible is the instruction manual for life. If you take time to read Matthew 18:21-35, I think you’ll agree it’s one of the best “pictures” in God’s instruction manual of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is at the heart of the Gospel. That’s why building bridges and not walls is so important. We need to be people who desire reconciliation in our own lives, and also in the lives of fellow believers. So, here are some basic steps you can take to pursue reconciliation with someone who has hurt you.

5 Steps to Forgiveness – What to do when you’ve been hurt

  1. Confess Your Forgiveness To God

Forgiveness begins in the heart and is first and foremost a matter between you and God. It is an attitude and a commitment to obedience. “And whenever you stand praying, forgive…” (Mark 11:25) Then, regardless of the outcome, as you move through the next four steps, there is no un-forgiveness in your heart to hinder your prayers and grieve the Holy Spirit.

  1. Forgive The Offender Despite The Risk

God’s forgiveness is our model. Ps. 103:12, Is. 38:17 and Jer. 31:34 teach us that we are to put the sin/offense behind us, as far as the east is from the west…and remember it no more. This may seem risky because the offender is likely to fail again, perhaps in the same area. However, Eph. 4:32 says we should forgive them as Christ has forgiven us.

  1. Cancel The Debt Once And For All

This is hard because it means that we relinquish the right to “collect” for the pain or hurt (debt) they have caused and we release our bitterness or any perceived right to exact vengeance. (Rom. 12:19-21) In canceling the debt, we promise not to talk to others about it, not to bring it up to the offender or use it against them, and not to dwell on it or keep thinking about it.

  1. Evaluate Whether You Should Go To The Offender

Take time to reflect and evaluate how best to bring about the reconciliation of a broken relationship through the act of forgiveness. 1 Peter 4:8 says that “…love covers a multitude of sins.” Some offenses are easily resolved as love covers the sin and forgiveness from your heart is all that is needed to move on. However, if the offense has broken your relationship and fellowship with the offender, then reconciliation is needed. First, go to the person and verbally offer them the forgiveness that you have already in your heart committed before God to give them. If they repent, the relationship can be resumed. If they don’t, take a fellow believer with you to get the matter resolved. If they still don’t repent (and they are a believer), God instructs us to bring it to the church (Matt. 18:15-17). If they still don’t change, you have forgiven them from your heart before God in prayer satisfying His command to forgive, however, the relationship cannot be resumed.

  1. Rely On God For Wisdom And Strength To Obey

 “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with all men.” (Rom. 12:18) We cannot control the choices made by others, but we can choose to obey and forgive as we have been forgiven, thus, reflecting the image of our Saviour. Ask God to give you the strength needed and rely on the Holy Spirit to direct your steps. (Phil. 4:13) God is a God of reconciliation and He doesn’t want any broken relationships.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then may the picture of our obedience in the area of forgiveness shout this truth – God’s way works!

Application Questions for Reflection:

  1. First, a personal question. Do you currently have any un-reconciled or broken relationships? If so, are you wiling to put these five steps into action? If not, why not?
  2. Our study has revealed that it is our responsibility to help others be reconciled. Has God been asking you to help mend a broken relationship? How could these 5-Steps help those you love?
  3. Read Matthew 18:21-35. What is the main point of The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant? The ESV Study Bible says, “Someone who does not grant forgiveness to others shows that his own heart has not experienced God’s forgiveness.” Do you agree with that?

 

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