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PATH TO SERENITY - FORGIVENESS
MATTHEW 5:3–12 Beatitudes
7Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
7Blessed (happy, [j]to be envied, and [k]spiritually prosperous--[l]with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy!
9Blessed (enjoying [p]enviable happiness, [q]spiritually prosperous--[r]with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the makers and [s]maintainers of peace, for they shall be called the sons of God!
FOCUS – ON RELATIONSHIPS
"We must evaluate all our relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt us and make amends for harm we’ve done to others."
THIS LESSON WILL ANSWER 4 QUESTIONS
Who do I need to forgive? What do I need to forgive? What do I need to be forgiven of? How do I forgive?
LifeCare Handout … (see below)
Why don’t we forgive?
What it is not
What it is
4 necessary ways to practice forgiveness
1. God to us
2. Us to others
3. Us to God
4. Us to Us/ Ourselves
Steps.. (see below from LifeCare handout)
Matthew 6 – after the Lord’s prayer.. forgive us our debts / trespasses as we forgive debtors (or their debts)
6:15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
If you do not forgive (6:14–15). This is not a threat, but a warning. Forgiveness is like a coin: It is a single unit with two sides. The attitude which enables us to accept forgiveness is the same attitude which compels us to extend it. If we are unable to forgive others, our hardness will prevent us from accepting God’s forgiveness.
He was not teaching that believers earned God’s forgiveness by forgiving others; for this would be contrary to God’s free grace and mercy. However, if we have truly experienced God’s forgiveness, then we will have a readiness to forgive others (Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13). Our Lord illustrated this principle in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matt. 18:21–35). 
Why Don’t We Forgive? We believe….
A. that a mark of spiritual maturity is to forgive quickly. “I’m defective, not spiritual enough, a failure – so why try?”
B. that if we still remember the event/offense, we haven’t forgiven.
C. that if we forgive, we are condoning evil.
D. Forget how much we’ve been forgiven by God through Christ
E. We confuse forgiveness with reconciliation
· Forgiveness is unilateral – I do it within myself – don’t need the other person
· Reconciliation is bilateral - it requires both people to be in the process
· I must forgive – reconciliation is optional
Read Acts:15:36-41………Paul & Mark, Paul and Barnabas about Mark. eventually they did reconcile and ministered together again.
What it is not
· Above: not to be confused with reconciliation
· Forgiveness is not politeness or tactfulness
· Not Diplomacy – negotiation, peacekeeping, mediation
· Not passive non-response (ignore it)
· Does not mean we must tolerate sin - be a doormat to another’s continual sin. “You can forgive almost anything, but if you tolerate everything someone does to you, you will make matters between you worse. Sometimes there comes a time when you must say to another – I cannot forgive you while this continues. It must stop or I must get out so that I can begin to forgive. We must be intolerant of evil whether it happens to us or someone else! From: Lewis Smedes…Forgiving the Hurts You Don’t Deserve
· Withholding it does not punish the other person; actually, it punishes us.
· Not an act that happens instantaneously
What it is
· A process – God forgives in a single swoosh! But…we are finite, temporal creatures for whom almost everything takes time.
· A deliberate act of the will – purposeful, calculated, planned, considered, intended
· A full pardon - cancellation – let off, absolve Romans 12:19
· A substitutional act – surrogate, alternate, replacement
· Obedience to God’s Word – Agreement, submission, compliance
· An act of love – Divine love
· It is the key to freedom
The Process of Forgiveness - Steps
1. Ask the lord to reveal the names of the persons who offended you and the specific wrongs you suffered.
2. Face the hurt and the hate. If you are going to forgive from your heart, you must let God search the depths of your hear and let all the ugliness out.
Note: If the word or topic of forgiveness triggers fear or panic in you, it may not be the right time for you to work on this. You may have to stay right here on Step #2 for awhile – grieve the losses. Deal with the memories, the feelings.
3. Acknowledge the significance of the cross. It is the cross of Christ that makes forgiveness morally right. Remember it’s significance for your own sin and forgiveness.
4. Decide that you will not retaliate by using the information about the offender’s sin against them. (Luke 6:27-34)
5. Make the decision to forgive. Conscious choice to let the other person off the hook for specific wrongs suffered. Remember this is about letting go of 'debt'.
6. Take the list to God and pray the following as He leads: “I forgive _____(name) for ______(specifically--every remembered pain)”.
7. Destroy the list or do something symbolic (write a letter) that will remind you of the step you took to forgive. Remember: your forgiveness is between you and God unless the offender has asked for your forgiveness. Or……confrontation is involved.
8. Do not expect that your decision to forgive will result in major changes in the other person. Instead, pray for them. Matthew 5:44
9. Try to understand the people you have forgiven. They may have been victims also. (don’t excuse the behavior – this minimizes the act – the depth of forgiveness). Try to see the good in them. Note: understanding them is not always a precursor to forgiving as some believe.
10.Thank God for the lessons you have learned and the maturity
you have gained by going through this process. Freedom is
the result of forgiveness in you. In time, you will be
able to think about the people who offended you without feeling hurt or anger.
11.When appropriate, accept your part of the blame for the
offenses you suffered. Confess your failure to God and to others (1John 1:9) and realize that if someone has something against you, you must go to that person (Matthew 5:23-26) – remember amends lesson.
Caution: Can be used as a quick fix – a band-aid for wounds that need to heal.
Forgiveness, or what passes for it, can do more harm than good. – it can actually be used as a form of manipulation/control. You may use it to protect yourself from abandonment – apologizing, etc. for the slightest discomfort in a relationship (“Will you forgive me?”). This is an attempt to control the person’s distance and calm your own fears. Pseudo-forgiveness could allow you to pretend that “everything is all better now” without any need for real change. Conflicts, sins, disagreements, faults, and failures cannot be wiped away by one swipe of the forgiveness rag. It only buys you more time, until the next, and the next, and the next. When change is needed in a relationship, forgiving and seeking forgiveness does not by itself produce the change. It acknowledges the need for change BUT, it doesn’t produce the change. Painful and progressive change over time is required – this is repentance. When change is required, false forgiveness is a cheap dysfunctional substitute. – Refer to prior comments about needing to not allow people to continue to harm – use boundaries.
Mark Twain said: “forgiveness is the fragrance that the flower leaves on the heel of the one who crushed it”.
Completed Forgiveness: When your feelings/rage have been transformed into a desire for the person’s blessing and their change. When you can see the person who harmed you and not feel all you felt before. When you are more concerned about the person’s well-being and where he/she will spend eternity than about the wrong that was done to you.
PATH TO SERENITY
'BLESSED/HAPPY ARE THE MERCIFUL' 'BLESSED/HAPPY ARE THE PEACEMAKERS' -- FORGIVENESS
1. Were there any surprises for you about what forgiveness is and what it not? Explain
2. What are the four areas we get to practice forgiveness in?
3. Which is currently harder for you? Receiving from God, Giving it to Others, Self, God?
4. Are there people in your life God is calling you to forgive but not necessarily reconcile with? Why? Share.