• Matt Beaney

#612 (31/5/22) WHAT IS FORGIVENESS?



‘Love…keeps no record of wrongs.’ (1 Corinthians 13:5)

When we say that love keeps no record of wrong - it means that love forgives. We must ensure that we understand what forgiveness means. Forgiveness is not to sweep things under the carpet in avoidance of conflict. Forgive (aphiémi) means to send away and leave alone. When we forgive we ‘give’ the sin of others against us to God. We leave judgement to Him. We are acting like God who sends our sin away onto Christ.


Forgiveness is not the avoidance of justice. Sin must always be paid for. If we are Christians, we have no condemnation in Christ Jesus because He took the wages of sin, which is death, for us. When we forgive others, we are trusting God to judge according to His perfect justice and we release the person from any debt to us; there is sin-debt but it is only with God.


Forgiveness can be compared to wiping the slate clean: in the past, a debt was sometimes recorded in chalk on a piece of slate; when the debt was paid, the records was wiped away; the person still has a debt toward God, but, as far as we are concerned, the debt they owe us has been paid - the slate is clean! Tim Keller described it:

‘Forgiveness means refusing to make them pay for what they did. However to refrain from lashing out at someone when you want to do so with all your being is agony. It is a form of suffering. You not only suffer the original loss of happiness, reputation and opportunity, but now you forgo the consolation of inflicting the same on them. You are absorbing the debt, taking the cost of it completely on yourself instead of taking it out on the other person. It hurts terribly. Many people would say it feels like a kind of death.’ (Tim Keller, The Reason for God)

RESPONSE

Let’s be aware that to forgive is to let God be God. It's to trust that He is the judge. He is good. He is compassionate. We can trust Him to deal with our hurt perfectly. Forgiveness is to ‘give away’ our right to judge to God. Forgiveness is to set the person free from their sin-debt to us.

 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY

1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

 

2. Icebreaker

Do you have any encouragements to share from how God has been speaking to you from His word recently?

 

3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group


On Sunday, we continued with our series 'Becoming Love' from the book of 1 Corinthians, looking at the next aspect of love.


Please read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7


Last week we looked at how 'Love…is not easily angered…’. This week, we are considering the next attribute of Christian love: ‘Love…keeps no record of wrongs.’


True love -Christian love (Apapé) - keeps no record of wrongs. The word ‘keeps no record…’ (logizomai) means to account and reckon. Like a man counting his money, one who keeps a record of wrongs counts up his past hurts. A hoarder is someone who keeps hold of things in case it comes in handy only to find that his life is a mess; likewise, we are all tempted to hoard how people have hurt us and it just damages and corrupts our lives and relationships.


Forgiveness (aphiémi) is to send away and leave alone. When we forgive we ‘give’ the sin of others against us to God. We leave judgement to Him. We are acting like God who sends our sin away onto Christ.


Forgiveness can be compared to wiping the slate clean: in the past, a debt was sometimes recorded in chalk on a piece of slate; when the debt was paid, the records was wiped away. Someone explained forgiveness as:

'Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me. - Anonymous'

This is what God does to us in justification and it's what we need to do for others who sin against us.


Like the returning prodigal son in Luke 15, we deserve nothing, however, the Father welcomes us home, declaring: "Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him..." Our Father forgives us. We now have a choice: we can be like the Father and be quick to forgive; alternatively, we can be like the older brother in the story who kept a record of wrongs saying: "When this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!"



Discussion questions

i) Did you feel that God spoke to you from any particular aspect of Sunday's message?

ii) What is forgiveness?

iii) This section on love is about the correct use of spiritual gifts; how will keeping no record of wrongs help us to have a church in which the gifts of the Spirit are used healthily?

iv) When is it right to forgive secretly - between you and God, and when is it right to go to a person to ask for forgiveness or confront them about how they have hurt you?


SIV - What effect will the avoidance of unforgiveness have on our witness?

SIV - Do you have any encouraging stories of sharing your faith with your friends?

SIV - How do you plan to 'serve, invest and invite' into your friendships?

SIV - Let's pray for the Spirit to lead us in reaching our community.










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