[00:00:00] Welcome. This is episode number 359 and it’s entitled “Forgiveness. Hard but Not Horrible.” You may have heard it said, “To err is human, to forgive is divine,” and in essence that is true. Every human being is going to make an error somewhere along the way and in relationships, we make errors and mistakes often and they need to be forgiven. And when we learn how to truly forgive from our hearts, it is divine. It takes divine power to truly do it. And forgiveness is divine in giving God glory, for He first forgave us. It is His forgiveness that brought about our salvation and restoration to a right relationship with Him. So forgiveness may be hard, but it’s not horrible.
Forgiveness is not pretending that it never happened or it didn’t really hurt. It’s not bottling it up inside.
[00:01:12] It’s not making excuses for the offender. It also doesn’t necessarily mean being friends with the person who caused the harm after you forgive him or her. Forgiveness is releasing the person who harmed you from any obligation to pay you back. It is an intentional decision to let go of resentment, anger or bitterness. Now let me repeat that. Forgiveness is releasing the person who harmed you from any obligation to pay you back. It is an intentional decision to let go of resentment, anger and bitterness. Now let’s look further on how forgiveness can be hard. Now I taught this in my class and you can join us with our Wednesday classes that we have. Go to the website given at the end of the podcast and you’ll find out on the website how to join us for our Wednesday studies. But we were in Luke chapter 17, and I’m not going to get into expository teaching of verses one to six, but I’m just going to touch on them real quick to say how forgiveness can be hard. So if you look at chapter 17 of the Gospel of Luke verse one, and I’m going to be looking at the New King James Version, it says then he said, talking about Jesus to his disciples, it is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come. So sometimes you don’t expect to be offended or hurt, especially by those that are close to you or those that you love or those that are in the church. But it’s impossible that we’re going to live our lives and not get offended. And then it talks about here, but woe to you through whom the offense does come. And then verse two, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than he should offend one of these little ones. Now, these little ones can be in reference to young believers, children, et cetera, et cetera. But the main point is you don’t want to be the one that’s going around offending and needing forgiveness. Now, you might say, wait a minute, Paula, I didn’t try to hurt the person. You thought that maybe you were helping, but maybe they were sensitive and you did wind up hurting them. Well, the Lord says it’s better for us to have this big, heavy stone hung around our neck and thrown into the sea than for us to be the ones that are going around offending others. So do you see how this can be hard? Some of the reasons why forgiveness can be hard then if you look at verse three, it says, take heed or watch yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. So you got to watch it. If someone hurts you and they come back and they ask forgiveness or they repent, then you have a responsibility to rebuke, to correct them and tell them what they did wrong. But then you also, if they repent, you’re supposed to forgive them. Regardless of what it may be, you have to forgive them. And I know you might say, wait a minute, Paula, that is hard. And it’s hard because maybe he doesn’t agree with the way in which he hurt you when you rebuked him. And he might say, wait a minute, I didn’t do that.
[00:04:52] And then you say, oh, yes, you did.
[00:04:55] So forgiveness can be hard even when someone comes and they repent, and maybe you correct them and forgive them, and yet they say, I didn’t do that. I don’t care what you say, something’s wrong with you. So forgiveness can be hard even in that way. So I’m laughing because I’m going through this real quick, but there’s a whole lot of scenarios that I can get into. So verse three again, take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you rebuke, correct him. And if he repents, forgive him. And then verse four says, and if he sins against you seven times in a day and seven times in a day returns to you saying, I repent, you shall forgive him. Seven is just a number that the Lord uses a lot of times for completeness or unlimited. So even if someone offends you over and over again in the same day and they ask you to forgive them, you have to forgive them. So do you see some of the reasons why forgiveness can be really hard? It can be hard when you look at these scriptures because you don’t know if they’re sincere in coming back to you and repeatedly hurting you in one day. And then you begin to say, wait a minute, there doesn’t seem to be any change. They keep doing the same thing over and over again. And what are you saying, God? If they come and ask forgiveness, I have to forgive them. What?
[00:06:24] And so then you go to verse five and the apostles say to the Lord, well, increase our faith if that’s true. This is hard. You’re going to have to increase our faith. And then in verse six, the Lord gets into the whole story about having a mustard seed of faith. And that if you just have the small amount of faith in him, not in yourself, but in him, you’ll be able to say, even to a mulberry tree that has deep roots, you can say to that tree, be rooted and planted up and it will obey you. And so basically he’s saying, it doesn’t matter how deep the offense, how deep the hurt may go if you trust in him. And if you have enough faith in him, he’ll give you the ability to forgive. So just in looking at that real quick, forgiveness can be hard. Furthermore, forgiveness is hard because, number one, you can replay the offense over and over again so much that it’s hard to enjoy your life. And then two, you can become depressed, irritable or anxious. Or three, you can experience shame and guilt for holding on to unforgiveness being a Christian. And then number four, it brings anger and bitterness into new relationships or experiences that you’re having. If you hold on to unforgiveness, it will affect other situations and other people you come in contact with. And so, number five, you can lose valuable and enriching connections with others because they don’t want to hang around you because you’re bottled up with a bunch of anger. So bitterness can be hard in so many ways.
[00:08:13] Again, forgiveness may be hard, but it’s not horrible in that we can reap good from forgiving others. The act of forgiveness frees you from the control of the person who harmed you. Sometimes forgiveness might even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one that hurt you. And forgiveness provides internal peace that allows you to focus on God and yourself and helps you to go on with life instead of being stuck in the hurt or the offense. Now, these are reasons why, although it may be hard, it’s not horrible. It ends up not being horrible because some of the benefits that come from forgiving another. Like these for example, number one, you have improved mental health when you forgive. Number two, there’s less anxiety, stress and hostility.
[00:09:16] Number three, there’s fewer symptoms of depression when you forgive. Number four, it lowers your blood pressure. Number five, you have a stronger immune system. Number six, improved heart health. Number seven, improved self esteem. And then number eight, healthier relationships.
[00:09:39] These are all common reasons why it’s good to do the hard work of forgiveness. And in addition, there are numerous spiritual benefits, such as, number one, unbroken fellowship with God by obeying his commands. Remember, the scriptures tell us that if we love him, we keep his commands, and forgiveness is a command. I just read that to you. The Lord said we’re supposed to forgive them no matter whether it’s seven times within the same day or unlimited times within the same day. If we’re going to obey his commands, we are to forgive. Now remember, it’s beneficial in that there’s unbroken fellowship with God by obeying his commands. He’s light, and we cannot walk in darkness or unforgiveness and say that we have fellowship with light. Then number two, another benefit, having inner peace, which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. And then number three, learning to see others through the eyes of Jesus. And then number four, treating others as Jesus does us. He forgave us of all of our sins, so we need to do the same for others. And then one last example.
[00:11:02] Number five, having others treat us wrongfully and still responding in the love of God is just what our savior did when they crucified him on the cross. Now, again, I could go on and on, but I think you’re seeing at this point how forgiveness may be hard, but it’s not horrible. It brings many blessings for the one who’s willing to exercise forgiveness in their life. So in life, we’re going to be given many opportunities to practice forgiveness. Now, some situations may be done quickly, while others may take time and may be a process for them to work out. But remember, forgiveness is not a suggestion by Jesus, it’s a command from Jesus. We saw that in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 17. Now, what do you do if you are the one that’s offended? I’m going to go over a few things that I covered in my class, and again, I hope that you’ll think about joining us on Wednesdays. Go at the end of this podcast to the website and see how you can join us. But let me just go over this quickly. What if you’re the one offended? Number one, if you’re the one who’s been wronged by another person. First of all, you need to forgive the offender in your heart. That’s going to keep your soul from resentment and malice. And then, number two, you go to the offender privately and you rebuke that person in love. And if they repent, then you’re told that he is to be forgiven. You are to say to them that they are forgiven. So you do the work in your heart, but then you also verbally let them know when they repent that you forgive them. And even if they sin repeatedly in the same day and they come back and repent, you should forgive them. And what if they don’t come back and repent? You might say, well, Paula, I know what the scripture says, if he repents, forgive. Well, what if they don’t come back? What if they don’t care that they hurt you? Well, then you still have to do the work of forgiveness within your own heart to set yourself free. The purpose of rebukes and other disciplinary action is not to get even or to humiliate the offender, but to restore that person to fellowship with the Lord, with you, and with anyone else that may be involved. So all rebukes should be delivered in a spirit of love, not anger or retaliation. And then last, if the private rebuke or correction doesn’t prove effective, then you should take one or two other witnesses with you in accordance with Matthew chapter 18 and have them go to be a witness to try to be reconciled. Now, what if that person doesn’t listen to all of you? Well, then the matter should go before the church, or there should be church discipline in a way that if they fail even to hear the church, then that should result, in Matthew chapter 18 and verse 17 it says church discipline, maybe even excommunication. Now, we have to be careful. I know that some churches have abused Matthew chapter 18 and done it in a wrong way. But overall, Jesus says this because he knows this is the way to not harm someone or not to get even, but to help the offender to come to a point of realizing the wrong that they have done and to restore them into fellowship. There’s no way of knowing whether a person who has offended you and repented is genuine. There’s no way of knowing that. We don’t see or know other people’s hearts, but we must accept their word if they have repented and then trust God and go on living. In the book of Colossians, it lets us know that Jesus has taken all of our sins and nailed them to the cross. So we’re released from our own sins when we receive Jesus as our Lord and savior and He gives us forgiveness. If you don’t understand what I mean by this, go to our website given at the end of the podcast and look where it talks about the idea of having Jesus as your savior. Or just go to the contact page on our website and say, “Paula, I don’t understand that podcast.” Give me a way to get in touch with you and I’ll explain this more further. But my prayer for you right now is to release the control and the power that the offending person and situation has had in your life by forgiving that person. You can do that right now by praying to Jesus and asking Him to help you. So just stop now and ask Jesus to give you the strength and the wisdom to forgive your offender. He will be faithful to answer your prayer if you’re sincere. So forgiveness is hard, but it’s not horrible. And I believe at this point you know what I mean by that. I thank the Mayo Clinic for some of the information that I’ve shared with you in this podcast. I hope that you will share this podcast with others, and then join us again next month. And don’t forget to smile. Jesus loves you!