someone who really hurt you is hard. Israel deeply hurt God
by continually turning to idolatry, yet God forgave them. As
forgiven sinners, we must follow God’s example and willingly
forgive others, even when they don’t deserve it.
The Lord’s prayer is one of the best known passages
of Scripture but its message of forgiveness is largely ignored.
This model prayer of Jesus is a humbling reminder of our inadequacies
and our need for forgiveness. As forgiven sinners, we should
also respond to the wrong-doings of others with compassion
1. God expects believers to follow his example and willingly
forgive others. Is this difficult?
2. Re-read verses 14 and 15. Why is God’s forgiveness
3. A friend lies to you and you find out.
(a) Should you wait until they ask for forgiveness before
you forgive them?
(b) What should you do if they don’t repent?
(c) Is this different from the way God forgives sinners?
(d) If this friend was a believer, would you treat them
A forgiving spirit
Freedom in Christ! What does this really mean? Believers have
been set free from “slavery to sin” by forgiveness
through Jesus Christ. Accepting forgiveness from God should
deeply affect the way we view others’ sins—we
must have a forgiving spirit. In humility, we must genuinely
forgive others from our hearts, realising that none of us
deserves God’s mercy. If we do not forgive others, then
why should God forgive us? Jesus told us “Blessed are
the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”. Matthew
5:7 On the other hand, he said “in the same way you judge
others, you will be judged”. Matthew 7:2 The way we
treat others is the way God will treat us. As James wrote:
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the
law that gives freedom, because judgement without mercy
will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy
triumphs over judgement! (James 2:12–13)
Forgiveness of others is not natural; revenge feels good.
Are you struggling to forgive others? Ask God for strength to forgive. The impact of repentance and removal of guilt should change our
attitude, but learning to forgive can be a life-time process.
a believer becomes closer to God, forgiveness becomes more
natural—the old sinful nature is being replaced by a
nature. Paul understood this transformation and wrote
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the
Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces
all reffect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into
likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the
Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17–18)
Actions speak louder than words
Saying “I forgive you” is a good start to healing
a damaged relationship. If someone really has hurt you, it takes time
pain and memory to fade—it doesn’t usually happen
By following up words with actions, it makes forgiveness much
Forgiveness and kindness is particularly important if the
wrong-doer is an unbeliever and not repentant. Why is this so important? How would
you apply the following examples?
If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering
off, be sure to take it back to him. If you see the donkey
someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not
leave it there; be sure you help him with it.
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is
thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will
heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward
you. (Proverbs 25:21–22)
Commandments to forgive others
|Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13
|Matthew 18:15–35; Luke 17:3–4; 2 Corinthians 2:7–10
God’s forgiveness is conditional
Do not seek revenge
|Romans 12:19; 1 Peter 3:9
Examples of forgiveness
|Genesis 50:17–21; Numbers 12:1–13; 14:19–20; Acts 7:60
Notice that in these two passages, God tells you to look after
your enemy and your enemy’s property.
By showing mercy and love to your enemy,
you are following the example of Christ and
it may turn your enemy towards God. Actions
speak louder than words.
Can you think of other examples where actions speak louder than words?
Turning from revenge
God commands us to show mercy, not revenge. Rather than seek
revenge, be compassionate—leave revenge to God who judges
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what
is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far
as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not
take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath,
for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay”
the Lord . . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil
with good. (Romans 12:17–19,21)
God expects and requires his people to show mercy and forgive
others’ wrong-doings. This should come from the heart
of a truly repentant believer. If we do not show mercy, God
tells us he will not be merciful towards us.
1. Proverbs 17:9 says that when we have forgiven someone,
we should forget it—don’t repeat the matter. It
tempting when we are angry with someone, to hurt them
by reminding them of past sins. Can you think of some
ways to overcome this temptation?
2. (a) Read Matthew 18:21–22. Is Jesus saying that when someone
sins against us for the 78th time, we do not need to forgive them?
The NIV says we should forgive 77 times. Some
other versions say we should forgive
70 x 7 = 490 times.
(b) Think about this scenario: A friend wrongs you and you forgive them. Then they do it again. It’s
harder this time but you forgive them. A month later
they do it again and you forgive them reluctantly. If
they do it a fourth time . . . or tenth time, should you
forgive them? Does it make any difference if they are
just sorry or truly repentant?
(c) Read Matthew 5:23–24. What does this reveal about
our relationship with God?
(d) Read Matthew 18:23–35. What does the parable of
the unforgiving servant teach us about God’s forgiveness?
1. Can you think of an incident when you forgave someone
but found it really difficult? Did forgiving them have a positive
effect on the relationship? What helped you forgive them?
2. If someone wrongs us, God tells us to bless them and
not to retaliate (Matthew 5:43–48; Romans 12:17–19;
1 Peter 3:9). In a paragraph, explain why we should love our
enemy. What benefits could this have?
• The genius of discipleship by Dennis Gillett (published
by The Christadelphian, 1984). Chapter 7 has a good explanation
of God’s forgiveness and forgiving others.
is God like?
55. The law of love