Forgiving others must always start with God’s
forgiveness of us.
Suppose each of us was born with a tape recorder
around our necks.
And, all throughout our life, every time that we
made an unfair judgement or had a wrong thought regarding another
person that tape recorder clicked on.
And once we finished with our sin the tape
recorder clicked off.
Then we die and stand before God and He rewinds it
and replays everything that is on it.
Then He asks, “Where do you stand?”
And we might be tempted to say, “But Lord, I
helped out all of those people and I went to church every week.”
Then He will rewind the tape recorder and replay
it, and ask once again, “Where do you stand?”
Forgiveness is our only hope.
Ps. 130:3 “If Thou, LORD, shouldst
mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?”
It is not just that God must forgive
us of ALL of our sins, but that God must forgive us of each one of
If you take the smallest, most
borderline sin that you will ever commit in your life and then slice
off one millionth of the debt that you owe to God for that sin.
You are helpless to even pay off that
much even if you should throw at it every good deed and thought that
you ever had in your life.
So how then can you pay for a
lifetime of sins?
We are completely at the mercy of
And yet, God is merciful.
And yet how unlike God we can be when
someone sins against us.
When someone offends us how often do
we scheme and fume and gossip about them?
But think about this, if we make that
person pay anything at all because of their sin against us then we
are placing on them a burden that God does not place upon us.
He says, “You have committed this
great number of sins against Me all of your life.
Some of them are indeed terrible.
Yet here is My forgiveness.
It is free.
It is complete.
It is totally unconditional.
Please, just take it.”
And, you know what?
He wants us to be the same way
He wants us to be just as
unconditional in our forgiveness of others.
He wants us to be just as free
in our forgiveness of others.
He wants us to be just as
complete in our forgiveness of others.
It is far better to forgive and
forget than to hate and remember.
Before Louis XII became King of
France he suffered great indignities and cruelties at the hand of his
cousin Charles VIII.
He was slandered, thrown into prison,
kept in chains and constant fear of death.
When he succeeded his cousin to the
throne, however, his close friends and advisers urged him to seek
revenge for all these shameful atrocities.
But Louis XII would not hear to any
of these suggestions.
But then they saw him preparing a
list of all the names of men who had been guilty of crimes against
Behind each name they noticed he was
placing a red cross.
His enemies, hearing of this list and
the red cross placed behind each name by the king himself, were
filled with dread alarm.
They thought that the sign of a cross
meant they were thereby sentenced to death on the gallows.
One after the other they fled the
court and their beloved country.
But King Louis XII learning of their
flight called for a special session of the court to explain his list
of names and the little red crosses.
“Be content, and do not fear,” he
said in a most cordial tone.
“The cross which I drew by your
names is not a sign of punishment, but a pledge of forgiveness and a
seal for the sake of the crucified Savior, who upon His Cross forgave
all His enemies, prayed for them, and blotted out the handwriting
that was against them.”
We like to keep a list of people who
have offended us.
And God doesn’t mind us keeping
such a list as long we, too, have red crosses next to each name.
Four stages of Forgiveness
1) We are hurt.
Something is done to us by someone
that makes us feel like we are insignificant or worthless.
Or something very precious to us—our
feelings, our opinions or our desires—are stomped on.
There are three dimensions or aspects
to this hurt:
It is personal.
It is unfair.
It is deep.
We are going to take a look at each
of these in kind and use King Saul’s offenses against David as an
It is personal.
We can only forgive people who have
hurt us directly.
If someone hurts a friend of mine and
I am furious at him for what he did; I cannot ask God to help me to
forgive him because he has committed no sin against me.
God will not give me the grace to
forgive someone who has not hurt me personally or directly.
I may ask God to give me the power to
love that person or to trust that person, but I cannot ask God to
give me the power to forgive that person.
But if that hurt is personal then we
need to acknowledge it.
We will never be able to forgive if
we deny the pain.
1 Samuel 18:7-11.
8 Then Saul became very angry, for
this saying displeased him; and he said, "They have ascribed to
David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what
more can he have but the kingdom?"
9 And Saul looked at David with
suspicion from that day on.
Saul became jealous of David because
the people were praising David instead of him.
It is unfair.
It is when we are hurtfully wronged
by a person we trusted to treat us right.
Let’s look again at David.
10 Now it came about on the next day
that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in
the midst of the house, while David was playing the harp with his
hand, as usual; and a spear was in Saul's hand.
11 And Saul hurled the spear for he
thought, "I will pin David to the wall." But David escaped
from his presence twice.
He was ministering to Saul and
calming Saul’s spirit by playing the harp but then Saul turned
against him and tried to kill him in a fit of jealousy.
This was unfair.
Now if David committed adultery with
Saul’s wife and then Saul threw David out of his job then that
would be fair.
If we deserve the hurt because of
something that we did then we cannot forgive because it was not
If I break someone’s trust by
gossiping about them with information that they told to me in secret
then I cannot forgive them if I am hurt because they won’t tell me
any more about themselves.
But if we are hurt unfairly—even if
they didn’t actually mean to hurt us—then we must forgive them.
People may hurt us by accident.
They may hurt us as a spillover
of their other problems and we just happen to be there at the wrong
Or they may hurt us
But in all cases we must forgive.
We are hurt deeply.
This is in distinction to annoyances,
slights, disappointments, or coming in second.
These kinds of things we just need to
swallow or shrug off.
Other people have the right to
not make us the center of their world every time that we are near to
Other people are allowed to fail
and to make mistakes.
And other people are allowed to
choose to spend more time with other friends or to drop us as a
boyfriend or a girlfriend in order to date someone that they feel
more compatible with.
We must be careful not to turn every
hurt or disappointment into a crisis of forgiveness.
Sometimes we just need to grow up or
not be so self-centered.
But there are hurts that are deep.
An example might be disloyalty.
Say you’ve helped someone out time
after time and were always there when they needed you, but then, for
some unexplained reason, they start treating you like a dog—like
you mean nothing to them anymore.
This is wrong and hurts deeply.
Or maybe it goes one step further and
they betray you.
They turn against you and
deliberately say things to hurt you.
Or they try to turn others against
This is wrong and hurts deeply.
We can’t turn misdemeanors into
But we also cannot trivialize that
which has dug itself deep into our hearts.
We may try and blow it off by being
glib about it or by ignoring it, but we will not forgive until we are
honest with ourselves about it.
Saul tried a number of times and in a
number of ways to kill David.
And you can’t get much a much
deeper hurt than trying to kill someone.
David ultimately acknowledged Saul’s
hatred of him and how it affected him.
So the key here is to realize that
these hurts are personal, unfair, and deep.
We shouldn’t go nuts every time
that someone does something that we don’t like.
But we must deal with offenses that
do require forgiveness.
We hate or are bitter.
How does this hatred or bitterness
We may recall over and over
again the event or events that hurt us.
Or we start reviewing every
lousy thing that they ever did to us or to other people.
Or we wish for terrible things
to happen to them or maybe even plot them out ourselves. We hope
that the boss dies in a car crash.
Or we try to destroy their
character behind their backs.
In this stage, we begin by being mad.
But then it can become hatred and it
grows and deepens because we don’t do anything about it.
And then eventually we become that
hatred or bitterness by letting it rule over our lives.
The bitterness no longer belongs to
us, we belong to the bitterness.
Once sin gets into our lives it
doesn’t stay for a while and then decide that it has done enough
damage and then it just goes away on its own.
But it always leaves clawing and
It never just fades away.
The elderly woman lay crumpled in the
hospital bed speaking to the night nurse.
“I’ll never forgive him.
I told him that I would never forgive
She told of how her younger brother
had approached her last night while she was in this hospital bed and
accused her of taking more than her share of the family heirlooms
following their mother’s death.
He spoke of various items ending with
“the berry spoon.”
He nearly shouted out, “I want that
For 40 years he had demanded the
berry spoon and for 40 years she insisted that it was hers.
And for 40 years they never spoke.
Now she was defending herself to the
nurse, “It’s my spoon.
It was given to me.
He’s wrong and I’ll never forgive
Here was an elderly woman with only a
few weeks to live and the only remaining family tie is broken because
of a berry spoon.
Do you have any berry spoons in your
Are there any people, perhaps family
members, perhaps friends, that you have broken fellowship with
because no one was gracious enough to forgive first?
Luke 11:21-22, “When a
strong man, fully armed, guards his own homestead, his possessions
are undisturbed; but when someone stronger than he attacks him and
overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had
relied, and distributes his plunder.”
In this example there are three
players—the house, the strong man and the stronger man.
We are the house.
The strong man is our sin or Satan.
It comes into our lives and plunders
us and steals good things from us and doesn’t give them back.
These things may be our joy, our
patience, our faith, our love.
The third player is the Holy Spirit.
Only He can overcome the sin in our
Sin is stronger than we are.
The only thing that can defeat sin is
Forgiveness is greater than we are.
The only thing that can give us the
power to forgive is God.
1 Samuel 24:3-5.
3 And he came to the sheepfolds on
the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself.
Now David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses of the cave.
4 And the men of David said to him,
"Behold, this is the day of which the LORD said to you, 'Behold;
I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him
as it seems good to you.'" Then David arose and cut off the edge
of Saul's robe secretly.
5 And it came about afterward that
David's conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of
David didn’t exactly rage out of
control, but he did assault Saul and humiliate him.
That is the second stage: we are
The first step in forgiving is
to recognize that God has greatly and abundantly and completely
Any godly character that we can ever
exhibit must radiate from God’s character.
You can go to a bunch of seminars on
how to do evangelism and hear a bunch of rah-rah sermons on reaching
And you may help out with a few
outreaches and pass out some tracts.
But until you see God’s burning
desire for the lost, it will never burn in your own heart.
You may have the technique, but you
won’t have the heart.
And so it is with forgiveness.
You must first see how abundantly God
has forgiven you before you will be able to forgive others.
Secondly, we need to pray.
This takes realizing that we cannot
do it on our own--that we lack the power, and that we lack the
5 And the apostles said to the Lord,
"Increase our faith!"
The apostles are asking Jesus to
increase their faith. But for what?
Was it to move a mountain?
Was it to reach the world with
Was it to heal someone who is
terribly sick or maybe even to raise the dead?
What was this incredibly great task
that Jesus was asking them to do that they were forced to cry out,
“Increase our faith?”
3 "Be on your guard! If your
brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
4 "And if he sins against you
seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I
repent,' forgive him."
Their request was in the context of
Jesus just told them that no matter
how many times someone offends you, you need to forgive each and
And they said, “But we can’t do
this! It’s impossible! So give us more faith so that we can do
But notice Jesus’ response. Luke
6 And the Lord said, "If you
had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree,
'Be uprooted and be planted in the sea'; and it would obey you.
The tree that is mentioned here is
probably the black mulberry.
The rabbis thought that its roots
could remain in the ground for 600 years.
Clearly, this is something that has
dug itself down deep and would be hard to move.
So you have this large, deeply rooted
tree and Jesus is saying that in order to remove it completely and
cast it into the sea you would need what?
No, we just need something as small
as a mustard seed.
What Jesus is emphasizing here is
that in order to effect miracles, our faith does not have to be
great, it just has to be genuine and to have its foundation in a
When we struggle with forgiving
someone--let’s face it—the problem is not that we don’t have
enough faith to forgive them.
The problem is that we don’t have
any faith to forgive them.
The main reason may be because we
don’t want to.
We want to see them suffer for
what they did.
We want them to feel the same
hurt that they made us to feel.
We want to give them the message
that if they hurt me then they will feel pain also, so they better
think twice about hurting me again.
But let’s be truthful, if someone
hurts me and then I make them suffer for it to the point where I feel
satisfied that they know what it feels like then I can’t forgive
Because forgiveness involves
releasing someone from a debt.
But if I make them pay off that debt
then there is nothing left to forgive.
Let’s lets not kid ourselves and
confuse forgiveness with justice or to somehow try and mix the two
Let’s not think that if someone
hurts us, that we can grab them by the neck and shake them real hard
and then let go and say, “I forgive you, brother” that we are
being noble and Christ-like.
Forgiveness means graciously
releasing them from a debt; not making them do penance first.
By back to our illustration in Luke
Just like this mulberry tree, hurt
can dig its roots deep into our lives.
And it may even feel like those roots
have been there for 600 years.
And it may feel that there is nothing
that we can do to extract those roots from out of our heart and from
out of our thoughts.
But Jesus says that it only takes the
smallest amount of faith to do this.
And you know what?
This gives hope.
We can, by the grace of God, forgive
anyone; no matter how deep, no matter how long it has been there.
We need to pray, “God, give me the
desire to forgive. God, give me the power to forgive.”
We can forgive others the way that
God forgives us.
The key is that we must want to
You know what’s interesting about
this example? The mulberry tree is cast into the sea.
In Micah 7:19 it says, “He will
again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot.
Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
But then Jesus continues this
teaching with a very interesting and what seems to be unrelated
7 "But which of you, having a
slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in
from the field, 'Come immediately and sit down to eat'?
8 "But will he not say to him,
'Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and
serve me until I have eaten and drunk; and afterward you will eat and
9 "He does not thank the slave
because he did the things which were commanded, does he?
10 "So you too, when you do all
the things which are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy slaves; we
have done only that which we ought to have done.'"
What is Jesus talking about here?
He is saying that we don’t need to
become a spiritual giant in order to forgive someone, even if that
person has hurt us badly.
We just need to use what little faith
we already have to believe God.
To believe God that He wants to give
us the desire and the power in order to forgive that person.
And how do we get to that point?
By obeying God in other areas.
Notice that this story doesn’t even
say anything about forgiveness.
It is about serving.
It is about doing those basic things
that God wants us to do.
It is not even talking about doing
The servant in this story is not out
there raising people from the dead or preaching the Gospel to
thousands of people.
He is out there doing that which is
He is plowing or tending sheep.
He then comes in and serves a meal
and clothes himself properly.
Not terribly difficult things to do.
Psalm 111:10. “The fear of
the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all
those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.”
You see, God does not make forgiving
others to be hard.
But He is saying that if you don’t
have the faith to obey God in even the simple basic commands then
don’t expect to have the faith to do something like forgive another
Then how can you expect to be able to
A key to forgiving someone is not for
us to psyche ourselves up until we think that we have convinced
ourselves that we should forgive that person.
It is not weighing the reasons for
and the reasons against.
The key is in believing God to do the
work in our own hearts and to believe His strength and His power.
We will struggle with forgiveness so
long as we leave God out of the picture and try and accomplish this
on our own.
This next point may not apply in
every situation but it is something to think about.
We need to see the deeper truth about
the people who have hurt us; a truth that blinds us what they really
We need to separate the action from
the person if that is possible.
This truth is that those who hurt us
are weak, needy, fallible human beings.
When someone hurts us we can too
easily make them out to be monsters in order to justify our
bitterness and our own bad attitudes.
We can make their sin to be even
greater and larger than who they are in every other area of their
If they have gossiped about us then
we can see them as nothing more than like a big, ugly rat that does
nothing else in life than to run around and tell everyone that they
meet wicked lies about us.
Before they hurt us they were a weak,
fallible human being and after they hurt us they are still a weak,
fallible human being who needs our kindness and acceptance and
support just as much after as before.
We must realize that a lack of
forgiveness will enslave us.
And this is very important to
If you cannot free people from their
wrongs then you will enslave yourself to your own painful past and
will then allow that bitterness to become your future.
You can reverse this future only by
releasing the other person from their sin against you and you can
only do that by forgiving them.
Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to
it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of
bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.”
When you are bitter and refuse to
forgive, not only will it destroy your own life, but it will also
negatively affect the lives of those around you.
In the early 1950s a Rabbi was
planning to move to America from Europe but he said that he would not
be able to go unless he did one thing first, and that was to forgive
Hitler. Because if he did not forgive Hitler then he would take
Hitler with him to America.
Forgiveness is the key that unlocks
the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hate.
It is a power that breaks the chains
of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.
Tell someone else about your
lack of forgiveness and ask them to pray for you.
But be careful not to tell or hint at
who the person is who has sinned against you.
Do not use this as an excuse to
The unforgiveness is your sin and
that is of greater importance to you than what the other person did
f) You will know that you have truly
forgiven someone when you can spontaneously wish them well.
We continue the process of forgiving by approaching that person, if
possible, and conveying our forgiveness.
Sometimes, though, it is impossible
to approach that person.
However, in most instances we can at
They need to understand the
reality of what they did to hurt you.
This does not mean going on the
It does not mean ripping them to
shreds and calling them names.
It means explaining from your
perspective why you were so hurt.
Not, “This is what you did to me!”
But, “I was hurt by what you said
or did and this is why.”
You cannot expect that person to
agree with you about every little detail.
No two people in the history of
personal misunderstandings have ever remembered their painful
experience in the same ways and in the same sequences.
So if you want total agreement and
blow for blow
insult for insult
hurt for hurt
you will never get it.
And in a lot of ways, that is not
what is really crucial.
You do not have to force them to feel
remorse for every word, every nuance, every action.
But the first step is what? —that
you to forgive them.
That is absolutely the most important
part of this whole process.
It is even more important to you than
for them to repent.
You must be truthful about what
happened and how you felt.
Don’t exaggerate it so as to make
them feel as badly as you can make them.
Make an attempt to restore the
Did David forgive Saul?
I believe so and we can look at some
scriptures that indicate this.
1 Samuel 24:21-22.
This is Saul speaking.
21 "So now swear to me by the
LORD that you will not cut off my descendants after me, and that you
will not destroy my name from my father's household."
22 And David swore to Saul. And Saul
went to his home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
David was able to wish Saul well.
1 Samuel 26:24.
This is David speaking.
24 "Now behold, as your life
was highly valued in my sight this day, so may my life be highly
valued in the sight of the LORD, and may He deliver me from all
David considered Saul to be important
as a person.
Even though Saul was a failure in
many ways as king, David did not berate him or recount all of Saul’s
failures or sins.
David did not play him out to be a
2 Samuel 1:24-25a.
24 "O daughters of Israel, weep
over Saul, Who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, Who put ornaments
of gold on your apparel.
25 "How have the mighty fallen
in the midst of the battle!”
David was sincerely grieved at Saul’s
He wasn’t glad thinking, “See, I
knew that God would get him eventually. That certainly justifies my
disdain of him.”
All too often when we have had a
conflict with someone, even after we believe that we have forgiven
him, we can still secretly hope that things will go poorly for them.
Or even be a little glad when we do
hear about something going lousy for them.
David wasn’t like that.
He found no vindication in Saul’s
Forgiveness is a funny thing: it
warms the heart and cools the sting.
Following the Civil War, Robert E.
Lee was visiting in Kentucky where one lady showed him the remains of
what had been an enormous, old tree.
This tree stood directly in front of
She bitterly cried to General Lee of
how its limbs and trunk had been shattered by Federal artillery fire.
Having poured out her anguish she
looked to the old soldier for a condemnation of the North.
Following a brief silence, Lee
responded, “Cut it down, my dear madam, and forget it.”
It is better to forgive the
injustices of the past than to allow them to take root and add
bitterness to your future.
There is always a time to forgive.
That time is always now.
Your season of bitterness is
Your season of anger and
plotting revenge is over.
Your season of chaining yourself
to this other person’s hurt or disappointment is over.
It is a new season, a fresh season, a
season is plant something new.
Do you want to forget what was
Then do what Paul did in Phillippians
3:13, “but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and
reaching forward to what lies ahead.”
Do you want to forget the past?
Then forgive; chop down that broken
tree and nurture something new and exciting.
Discover what God wants to do with
you once you’ve freed yourself from the bitterness of your past.
Live in the present and the future
and not in the past.
Seek new relationships; make new
So we have managed to fall upon God’s
mercy and grace and, by His power, we have forgiven someone.
But what does that mean?
Does that mean that we must act as
though that offense never occurred?
Must the relationship be back to
exactly the way it was before the hurtful incident?
What Forgiveness is not
Forgiveness is not necessarily
trusting that person fully or even partially.
You may share something confidential
with someone and then they blab it to others.
You can sincerely forgive that person
but that does not mean that you should be willing to share
confidential information with them again anytime soon.
Trust is earned.
You have every right to expect that
person to prove their trustworthiness before you make them your
Forgiveness is not necessarily
forgetting about the offense.
It is good to forget about it and
forgiving that person is the first step towards forgetting about it.
But forgetfulness is not a test for
When God says in Hebrews 10:17,
“And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more,”
does that mean that He forgets that they ever existed?
Does it mean that if I commit a sin
yesterday and then repent of it that God says, “What sin?”
No. It means that He forgets the debt
against us and no longer holds it against us either now or ever in
all of eternity.
But it is not wiped out of God’s
mind so that He no longer is able to remember it.
Think about the Bible.
It is full of examples of people who
sinned and then repented.
But if the Bible is truly inspired by
God, i.e., that its contents were given to men to record from God,
then how are these stories are still included?
Shouldn’t God have forgotten about
And if He forgot about them then how
could He tell people to write them down?
It is because forgiving does not
necessarily mean never remembering; it means never holding it against
that person again.
And, in a way, that is even harder.
If we are truly able to completely
forget about some offense then it isn’t so difficult to never hold
it against that person.
But if it does come to mind and we
are able to genuinely not hold that hurt against that person then we
are truly resting in the grace of God.
Of course it is good to forget but it
is not necessary to forgive.
Forgiveness is not excusing the
Excusing the sin is actually the
opposite of forgiveness because it is saying the offense really
didn’t matter, that there was nothing to forgive.
You don’t need grace to excuse; you
just need insight and understanding.
You need grace to forgive because it
was, in fact, a grievous offense.
Forgiveness is not smothering
the issue because then it will just continue to burn in our soul and
start sinking its deep roots into our hearts.
Forgiveness is not pushing the hurt
so deep that we think that we are unable to think about it.
Rather, forgiveness is truly dealing
with the offense.
It is closing the book on it; not
hiding it somewhere in the room.
Forgiveness is not accepting or
tolerating the person.
We accept people for the good that
they are; we forgive people for the bad that they do.
But why should we point this sin out
Because it will help them to overcome
the sins in their own lives that may be weighing them down.
And it may be a sin that is causing
them to have problems with other people or with God.
Love wants the other person to be
It is not necessarily being
Yes, it is good and it is the best to
be reconciled, but even if there is no reconciliation that does not
mean that forgiveness is absent.
Every effort should be made to
reconcile but sometimes that is impossible.
There may be an ex-spouse that
There may be a person who still
wants to inflict harm on you.
There may be someone who is a
But we should do what we can
Hebrews 12:14 says, “Pursue
peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will
see the Lord.”
And Romans 12:18 says, “If
possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
Notice that this verse in Romans puts
the entire onus on you.
God does not expect a 50/50 attempt.
He expects you to make the entire
But if that reasonable effort, and
note how key the word “reasonable” is, fails then you are free
from further obligation.
We are going to look at two Bible
In each one, someone was terribly
And yet, their responses were
We are going to see how this affected
their lives, their futures and how God viewed their reactions.
Simeon and Levi
34:1 Now Dinah the daughter of Leah,
whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the
2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor
the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with
her by force.
3 And he was deeply attracted to
Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly
4 So Shechem spoke to his father
Hamor, saying, "Get me this young girl for a wife."
5 Now Jacob heard that he had
defiled Dinah his daughter; but his sons were with his livestock in
the field, so Jacob kept silent until they came in.
6 Then Hamor the father of Shechem
went out to Jacob to speak with him.
7 Now the sons of Jacob came in from
the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved, and they were
very angry because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying
with Jacob's daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.
Shechem raped Dinah; a terrible act
and the sons of Jacob heard about it and were furious.
13 But Jacob's sons answered Shechem
and his father Hamor, with deceit, and spoke to them, because he had
defiled Dinah their sister.
14 And they said to them, "We
cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised,
for that would be a disgrace to us.
15 "Only on this condition will
we consent to you: if you will become like us, in that every male of
you be circumcised,
16 then we will give our daughters
to you, and we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will
live with you and become one people.
17 "But if you will not listen
to us to be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and go."
Jacob’s sons pretended to go along with Hamor in
order to trap him and get revenge.
But notice what is missing from the sons of Jacob.
They didn’t pray or cry out to
They didn’t seek counsel or
their father’s advice.
They lied or, at least, used
They schemed together about how
to get revenge. Obviously, they did not make this story up on the
fly. They sat around and planned it out.
It’s dark out and they’re all
gathered around a campfire.
One might have said, “Let’s just
go in and kill him.”
Another, “If we do that then the
whole town will come out after us and we’ll never be able to hold
them all off.”
“Then why don’t we just go in at
night and kill everyone in town while they’re sleeping.”
“And what if one person cries out?
Then what? Then the whole town will wake up and we’ll be kapooy.”
“What we need is some way to weaken
all of the men in the town.”
There is a moment of silence while
they all rub their chins and think.
Then one of them narrows his eyes and
in a low voice says, “hmmm, I think I’ve got it.”
When we are sinned against, is our
first instinct to cry out to God.
Do we seek counsel?
Or do we lie and plot revenge?
Do we think evil thoughts towards
25 Now it came about on the third
day, when they were in pain, that two of Jacob's sons, Simeon and
Levi, Dinah's brothers, each took his sword and came upon the city
unawares, and killed every male.
Simeon and Levi killed all of the
males and then stole what was left.
They punished even those who were
associated with the transgressors.
Lack of forgiveness sometimes knows
There is a saying, “My enemy’s
friends become my enemies.”
I can assure you that this saying is
Have you ever been hurt by someone
and then snubbed his or her’s friends?
This is wrong.
30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and
Levi, "You have brought trouble on me, by making me odious among
the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites;
and my men being few in number, they will gather together against me
and attack me and I shall be destroyed, I and my household."
Jacob erred in that he did not
reprove them for doing evil but for causing him trouble.
He had an attitude of consequences
being more important than righteousness.
31 But they said, "Should he
treat our sister as a harlot?"
They couldn’t get their eyes off of
They focused on the sin and not on
God’s grace and forgiveness.
They let another’s sin dictate
their own lives.
Shechem’s sin dominated
and their excuses.
And it was the justification for
their own sin.
How many times have you ever excused
your own sin because it was in response to someone else’s even
Sin is always wrong.
Throughout this story notice how many
times God’s name comes up.
They never took the situation to God.
They never even tried to rely on His
grace and power.
And the result was the ruin of their
own lives and the ruin of the lives of those around them including
their own family.
Now we jump ahead to when their
brother, Joseph, was the second in command in Egypt, but they didn’t
know that it was him.
Their youngest brother and Joseph’s
only full brother, Benjamin, was always left behind with Jacob when
the other ten brothers came to Egypt, but Joseph wanted them to bring
Benjamin the next time.
So to ensure this he took one of the
brother’s as hostage to be released when Benjamin appeared.
Notice who was selected.
24 And he [Joseph] turned away from
them and wept. But when he returned to them and spoke to them, he
took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes.
Interesting how Simeon was the one
taken and held in prison.
The one whose life was already
imprisoned by unforgiveness is now the one who was chosen to be held
in an actual prison.
Now let’s jump to the end of
Jacob’s life when he gathered all of his sons and prophesied over
Vs. 5 - 7
5 "Simeon and Levi are
brothers; Their swords are implements of violence.
6 "Let my soul not enter into
their council; Let not my glory be united with their assembly;
Because in their anger they slew men, And in their self-will they
7 "Cursed be their anger, for
it is fierce; And their wrath, for it is cruel. I will disperse them
in Jacob, And scatter them in Israel.
These are the only two brothers who
are prophesied together; all of the others are done individually.
These brothers are forever linked
because of their sin.
Some consequences of revenge and
Unforgiveness is tied to:
Two more consequences of
Now let’s look at the second
Here was a person who was also sinned
against but see how different his response was.
Vs. 18-20, 23-24
18 When they saw him from a distance
and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him
19 And they said to one another,
"Here comes this dreamer!
20 "Now then, come and let us
kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, 'A wild
beast devoured him.' Then let us see what will become of his dreams!"
23 So it came about, when Joseph
reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the
varicolored tunic that was on him;
24 and they took him and threw him
into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it.
You can see here the first stage of
hurt that we discussed earlier.
Joseph was unfairly schemed against.
He was personally hurt.
And the attack went deep.
3 Then Joseph said to his brothers,
"I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?" But his brothers
could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.
4 Then Joseph said to his brothers,
"Please come closer to me." And they came closer. And he
said, "I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.
5 "And now do not be grieved or
angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me
before you to preserve life.
Joseph put God into the middle of the
He didn’t focus on the sin; he
focused on the God who can overcome all sin.
22 "Joseph is a fruitful bough,
A fruitful bough by a spring; Its branches run over a wall.
23 "The archers bitterly
attacked him, And shot at him and harassed him;
24 But his bow remained firm, And
his arms were agile, From the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (From
there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),
25 From the God of your father who
helps you, And by the Almighty who blesses you With blessings of
heaven above, Blessings of the deep that lies beneath, Blessings of
the breasts and of the womb.
26 "The blessings of your
father Have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors Up to the utmost
bound of the everlasting hills; May they be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his
Joseph is fruitful.
And notice how many times the word
“blessings” is used.
And what is the theme of verses
When he was attacked, God stood by
him and supported him and blessed him.
Look at the contrast:
Simeon and Levi perpetrated
violence. Joseph resisted violence.
Simeon and Levi lost the council
of God. Joseph had God helping him.
Simeon and Levi lost the glory
of God. Joseph was surrounded by the Almighty.
Simeon and Levi were cursed.
Joseph was blessed five times from the heavens above, from the
depths below, and from all around him.
Simeon and Levi were scattered;
their strength was removed. Joseph was distinguished.
Who would you rather be?
The one who fumes about your
Or the one who puts God into the
center of your hurt and forgives?
What are some thoughts or
behaviors that may keep us from forgiving?
Someone has sinned against us and we
are mad and we have been mad for quite a while.
God has commanded us to forgive.
We know how much unforgiveness is
eating us up.
We know that even though being able
to forgive is impossible in ourselves we have the Holy Spirit who
gives us the power to always do what is right.
So why do we struggle so much to
Why do we cry out to Jesus like the
father whose son was demon possessed, “I believe, help me in my
We are going to quickly look at a few
reasons as to why we might not want to forgive.
You might not want to forgive
because you are angry or frustrated.
Why might you feel anger over an
It might be because you feel
that you have just been treated wrongly and that you deserve to be
treated better than that.
It might be because you feel
that you have invested a lot of time and emotion into a relationship
and now it appears that it was all a waste of time.
It might be because you have had
your hopes and dreams shattered into millions of shards of glass.
Or sometimes it might be because
it helps you to avoid self-examination.
So now you are angry.
Something bad has happened to you and
you want to make sure that everyone knows it.
The Bible clearly speaks about anger.
Notice what it says the solution is.
Psalm 37:8, “Cease from
anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret, it leads only to evildoing.”
Ecclesiastes 7:9, “Do
not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the
bosom of fools.”
This study doesn’t have the time to
look at anger in-depth but here is what God says.
The Bible is clear about anger—simply
stop being angry.
Of course that is easier to say than
But if you do what is right then your
attitudes will generally follow.
What are some ways of overcoming
being angry at this person?
When talking about him or her
make a point not to raise your voice.
Though it might be cathartic to
discuss what happened to a couple of your close friends, it is not
necessary to replay it over and over again either to those same
people or to anyone who happens to pass within ten feet of you.
When discussing the situation
don’t just talk about what happened and how awful it was but also
what can now be done to move ahead. I.e., you may start off negative
but always try to end positive.
Don’t talk about how you’re
always the victim and how everyone always steps all over you. If
there was anyone who fit that role it was Jesus and you never read
about Him complaining.
Yes, you’ve lost something but
are you going to fill that hole with bitterness or with something
positive? If you do nothing then the first will occur. The latter
will only happen if you use the situation to devise goals and create
means to accomplish those goals.
You might not want to forgive
because you want revenge.
You may want revenge because that
person has hurt you and now you want them to feel the same pain.
Destroy their belongings
Scheme against them in your mind
or wish ill against them
Commit physical, verbal, or
You may feel that the person hasn’t
paid enough yet to be forgiven.
But forgiveness, by its definition,
Otherwise, it’s not forgiveness;
1 Peter 2
20 For what credit is there if, when
you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if
when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it,
this finds favor with God.
21 For you have been called for this
purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example
for you to follow in His steps,
22 WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY
DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH;
23 and while being reviled, He did
not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but
kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;
24 and He Himself bore our sins in
His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to
righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
What is the key here?
Jesus did not respond in like
He trusted God to do what was
Yes, taking revenge makes you even
with that person; but passing by that revenge makes you more like
Revenge is the poorest victory in all
To kill a hornet after it has stung
you was never known to make the wound heal any faster.
There is no passion of the human
heart that promises so much and pays so little as that of revenge.
You might not want to forgive
because you enjoy playing the victim.
You may feel that the only way that
you’ll get attention is by being felt sorry for.
But have you ever tried
genuinely caring about someone else?
Have you ever thrown yourself
fully into helping those who are disabled or disadvantaged in some
Have you ever focused on
bringing joy into other people’s lives rather than your sorrows?
Maybe then you would also get
attention but this attention would be so much sweeter.
Of course, it is easier to complain
on and on and on; that takes hardly any effort at all.
It takes work to sacrifice for
But it is so much better.
You might not want to forgive
because you really don’t like that person and you want to keep it
You don’t trust that person
You don’t want to spend any
time with that person anymore.
You just don’t like that
So you continue to not forgive to
ensure that there will be no reconciliation or even approach by that
But realize that forgiveness doesn’t
necessarily mean that you must now be best pals or go on vacation
It doesn’t mean that you must now
trust that person explicitly.
It doesn’t mean that that person
must become a part of your life again.
But, yes, it does mean that you need
to be friendly to that person.
It does mean that you can wish them
And when this happens it means that
you have released them from their burden of payment and that benefits
you far more then it benefits them.
We just looked at only four reasons
for why a person might not want to forgive.
But those two words are oftentimes
the key of a struggle with unforgiveness—“not want.”
We can forgive, we may somewhat want
to forgive, but we don’t.
And, yes, it is true that a
particularly vile offense may take time.
It might not be that we don’t want
to forgive but that the wound is too new, we are still wobbling and
confused, or we just don’t know what hit us.
And this could be justified.
But as time goes on, the problem
anymore is not so much the original offense but the attitude that
If you are struggling to forgive then
perhaps you should dig deep enough to ask yourself “why not?”
That might go a long way.
Why should we forgive others?
Because God has forgiven us.
We must forgive for our own
Unforgiveness will take over our
Because God has so richly
forgiven us how could not return even a morsel of forgiveness to
First we are going to finish up the
section on forgiving others by looking at a passage in
21 Then Peter came and said to Him,
"Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive
him? Up to seven times?"
22 Jesus said to him, "I do not
say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
23 "For this reason the kingdom
of heaven may be compared to a certain king who wished to settle
accounts with his slaves.
24 "And when he had begun to
settle them, there was brought to him one who owed him ten thousand
25 "But since he did not have
the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his
wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made.
26 "The slave therefore falling
down, prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me,
and I will repay you everything.'
27 "And the lord of that slave
felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.
28 "But that slave went out and
found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he
seized him and began to choke him, saying, 'Pay back what you owe.'
29 "So his fellow slave fell
down and began to entreat him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I
will repay you.'
30 "He was unwilling however,
but went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was
31 "So when his fellow slaves
saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported
to their lord all that had happened.
32 "Then summoning him, his
lord said^ to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt
because you entreated me.
33 'Should you not also have had
mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?'
34 "And his lord, moved with
anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all
that was owed him.
35 "So shall My heavenly Father
also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your
A talent was worth around 15 years of
And so 10,000 talents, which is what
the first slave owed, in today’s wages, would be around 3 billion
This isn’t a literal story and so
what Jesus is saying is that this slave had an un-payable amount of
It would take 3,000 men 50 years to
earn this much.
But let’s look at in another way.
A talent weighed around 65 to 80
pounds so one man could carry one talent.
Take each of the talents that this
man owed and put them into the hands of 10,000 men and then put them
into a line.
That line would stretch to six miles
Then if that line was put in front of
the king to whom the money was owed and every four seconds a talent
was placed at his feet, it would take 11 hours for every man to pass
by the king and put down his talent.
At the end of this time the king
would have around 700,000 lbs of money in front of him.
Another slave then owed this first
slave 100 denarii.
A denarius was a coin.
So the amount that was owed could
conceivably be carried in the pockets of one man.
If he had the money, he, by himself,
could walk up to his debtor, pull out the money, and within a couple
of seconds give it to him.
That was the difference in what was
That difference was enormous.
The first slave, though he was
released from a great debt, did not forgive the second slave from his
There are several key points in this
story regarding forgiving others.
The first slave did not ask for
forgiveness; he asked for an extension of time (verse 26).
He didn’t realize that what he owed
If we have any attitude toward our
sin and God thinking that we can do something—anything—to help
pay for our sin or to do some sort-of penance, then we will struggle
in our forgiving of others.
Because if we think that we can do
something to help pay for our sin before God then we will require
others to pay us for the sin that they commit against us.
If you do not allow God to be
gracious and forgiving then how will you ever be gracious and
So what is one thing that you can do
to be able to forgive others?
It is to more deeply realize and
appreciate God’s forgiveness towards you.
And what is one way that you can do
Verbally thank God for sins that you
have committed that He has forgiven you for.
“God, even though I was
immoral, thank You that You have forgiven me.”
“God, even though I was bitter
and angry, thank You that You have forgiven me.”
“God, even though I lied and
cheated, thank You that You have forgiven me.”
“God, even though… even
though… even though…”
Bring God’s forgiveness off the
pages of the Bible and into your heart.
Take it from being mere doctrine to
applying it personally to your own life in a very concrete and
He didn’t understand the offer
of forgiveness and so he was unable to grant it.
Notice what is missing between verses
27 and 28.
There was no humility or
He goes out and meets someone who
owes him some pocket change.
Now if God’s forgiveness were on
his heart then that would have flowed out of his life when he met the
But what was on his heart? --Himself.
We must be careful not to take God
Do not trample on God’s
And really when you put it into
perspective, God’s forgiveness of us is like the distance from here
to the planet Pluto.
But our forgiveness of someone else
is like the distance from yourself to the person standing in front of
This is God’s rebuke in verse 33,
“Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I
had mercy on you?”
God gave him an ocean of forgiveness;
He only asked that this man show a drop of forgiveness to the next
To sum up this section, so why should
we forgive others?
Because God has forgiven us
Because unforgiveness will take
over our lives and make us its slave
Because forgiveness allows us to
exhibit God’s grace, power, and forgiveness in our own lives
Because God has so richly
forgiven us how could not return even a morsel of forgiveness to
Why is important to first
understand God’s forgiveness of us before we can forgive others?
Why is forgiveness so hard?
In the four stages of
forgiveness the first one is that we are hurt. What are some
examples of how we can be hurt that requires forgiveness and what
are some examples of hurt that don’t require forgiveness?
Why is it harmful to ourselves
to make every little hurt or disappointment into an episode of
The second stage is that we hate
or are bitter. What are some ways that this hatred or bitterness can
It was said that unforgiveness
can make us its slave. What does this mean and how is it true?
The third stage is that we
forgive. If the other person doesn’t repent should we forgive
anyway? Why or why not?
What are some things that we can
do that will enable us to forgive?
The fourth stage is to convey
our forgiveness. Does this have to be overtly said or are there
other ways that we can demonstrate this?
If we know that the other person
is hostile towards us should we try to convey our forgiveness
When we do convey our
forgiveness what are some things that we should avoid doing or
If we try to convey our
forgiveness and they reject us again how can we prevent becoming bitter or angry all over again?
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