• Matt Beaney

#615 (3/6/22 IF YOU DO NOT FORGIVE



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

Jesus warns us about the dangers of unforgiveness:

‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.’ (Matthew 6:12-14)

Do you see the serious warning here? The point is that if we are unmerciful, we cannot be Christians. This, of course, is not about perfection; but Jesus does expect the children of God to be like Him and work at forgiving. True Christians know that God has been merciful and has forgiven them; A Christian will forgive because they know the mercy of God and have His Spirit working in them.


On one occasion after Peter had asked Jesus:

“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21)

In response, Jesus tells The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in which a servant, because he asked for mercy, was let off of a huge debt. However, this servant proceeds to demand, without mercy, the small debt of another. News of this reached the master and we read of his response:

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:32-35)

The warning for all of us is obvious I hope: If Jesus has forgiven our great debt, how can we fail to forgive others? If we fail to forgive it reveals that we are not Christians; we are warned: “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”


RESPONSE

The response is not easy. Jesus doesn’t say: “I understand that this hurt is too much to forgive, let’s brush this one under the carpet”. Jesus is resolute with us. We must forgive as we have been forgiven - or seek to do so anyway. Even up to ‘seventy times seven times’ we, like Christ, are to keep no record of wrongs. By God’s grace, may He help each of us in this high calling to be peacemakers in which there is great blessing.


 

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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