Rev. Dr. A. A. Obe (JP)
October 30, 2022
TEXT: Matthew 6:9-15; 26:69-75; 27:3-10; Ruth 1:20-21
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.
71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.
72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.
73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.
74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.
75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.
8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.
9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
10 And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.
19 So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?
20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
21 I went out full and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?
WHAT IS FORGIVENESS?
1. Generally, forgiveness is a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance towards a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness
2. Biblically, forgiveness itself is defined as the letting go of sin. In the Bible, this includes forgiving everyone, every time, of everything, as an act of obedience and gratefulness to God. It acknowledges the sacrifice God made through His Son Jesus who died to restore the relationship between God and man.
3. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. Rather, forgiveness means letting go of the pain the incident is causing us. We forgive to give ourselves peace of mind, and in hopes that one day someone will return the favour if we ever offend them.
Having understood forgiveness then what is unforgiveness?
1. Unforgiveness is a state of emotional and mental distress that results from a delayed response in forgiving an offender. It is characterized by indignation, bitterness, and a demand for punishment or restitution.
2. Unforgiveness creates a domino effect that negatively impacts every part of one’s life, including our emotions, thoughts, behaviours, body, spirit, and relationships. With unforgiveness, time does not heal all wounds; in fact, time further worsens and infects emotional pain.
3. Unforgiveness is like carrying around a huge weight. The longer we carry a grudge, the heavier the burden becomes. In the absence of a timely response, the roots of unforgiveness only go deeper, further entangling us. In summary, feeding on unforgiveness is toxic.
4. Unforgiveness creates an emotional storm of distress in which feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, insecurity, and fear surface.
5. Unforgiveness also creates a hardened heart. The hardened heart feels anger, resentment, bitterness, and hatred toward the offender.
Unforgiveness is worse than cancer. It kills both spiritually and physically.
What does forgiving yourself mean?
Forgiving yourself means letting go of the feelings and emotions associated with what went wrong. You let go of any resentment or anger. It may be easier to do this when forgiving others, but many find it hard to do this when it is for yourself. But you have to do it so that you will have peace of mind and your relationship with God will be cordial.
As believers, our relationship with God is restored, but what about our relationship with our fellow human beings? The Bible states that when someone hurts us, we are under an obligation to God to forgive that person. Jesus is very clear on this point.
Refusing to forgive is a sin. If we receive forgiveness from God, we must give it to others who hurt us. We cannot hold grudges or seek revenge. We are to trust God for justice and forgive the person who offended us. That does not mean we must forget the offense, however; usually, that’s beyond our power. Forgiveness means releasing the other from blame, leaving the event in God’s hands, and moving on. Having done this, we must also let go of that resentment from our heart. Matthew 6:14-15
Why we must forgive?
1. Because God Forgave You
This is the one you’re probably already familiar with. The first reason why we should forgive others is simply because God forgave us. He is so full of love and ready to forgive when we sincerely ask, so we should too. I know most of the time it’s far from easy, but the more we condition ourselves spiritually and become closer to the Lord, the easier it becomes. Colossians 3:13 (13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.)
2. Forgiveness Frees You From Bitterness.
Forgiveness is essential if we want to keep our peace and prevent the poison of bitterness taking root in our hearts. Whenever you hold resentment towards someone and withhold forgiveness, it opens a door to the enemy of your soul to poison you with bitterness, insecurity and even barricade you from blessings that the Lord wants to give you. Ephesians 4:31-32 (31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.)
3. Man’s Revenge Is Not God’s Justice
If you’ve ever been hurt by someone and have felt the sting of betrayal, rejection or flat out pain of whatever happened, then the thought of revenge may have crossed your mind. It’s only natural to want justice for yourself, but most of the time the world’s way of “settling the score” is not the will of the Lord. In short, man’s revenge is not God’s justice. Proverbs 20:22 (22 Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.)
Three major acts of forgiveness in the bible
1. Joseph forgave his treacherous brothers. Genesis 45:4-7
2. Jesus forgave those that crucified Him. Luke 24:24
3. Stephen forgave those that murdered him in cold blood. Acts 7:59-60
Why we find it difficult to forgive ourselves
1. Unwillingness: You can’t believe that you’ve done it, so you can’t acknowledge it. Forgiving yourself means that you are acknowledging your sense of responsibility, which makes your actions real.
2. Guilt: There’s that voice in your head that keeps on repeating the mistakes you’ve done. You can’t get over your misdeeds because that voice, which is your conscience, keeps taunting you.
3. Overthinking: You keep on thinking about what will happen next, without even trying to forgive yourself.
4. Fear: Fear of what people may say how they will see you.
Note: When we make mistakes, we fall in to a particular sin(s), or we commit an offense. Even if we have confessed and make restitution, yet we discover the guilt or shame is still hunting us. This may mean after praying and God forgave us, we have not forgiven ourselves.
What to do to forgive ourselves:
Having a clear definition of forgiveness, and what it means to you, is an important first step. Your definition could stem from your religious beliefs, family, or personal ideas. When you define what forgiveness is, make sure you are also clear on what it is not. If you believe that forgiveness releases you from responsibility, or means that you are not at fault, it will feel like you are letting yourself off the hook. Understanding forgiveness as forgetting, or moving on as if nothing happened will keep you stuck in shame or denial. This is why it is important to have a clear definition of forgiveness. Perhaps forgiveness can be defined as a decision to acknowledge that you are flawed and made poor choices that have caused harm. But instead of continuing to punish yourself and wallow in shame, you are choosing to treat yourself with compassion and understanding so you can learn from this experience, accept responsibility for your actions, and grow in ways that will encourage effective change.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
In order to forgive yourself, you need to acknowledge your feelings, not deny them. Set aside time to focus on your feelings without judgment. Name your emotions and allow yourself to experience what you feel. You can feel anything you need to feel and these feelings don’t have to define your responses. This might be difficult, but you will not be able to let go of your feelings of guilt and shame until you acknowledge them, feel them, and allow yourself to work through them. It is normal to experience remorse when you have caused pain for someone else. Acknowledging these feelings enables you to gain a deeper understanding of what occurred.
Acknowledge What You Did
You can’t really learn from your mistakes unless you are able to acknowledge them. Acknowledging what happened and taking responsibility for your part in it allows you to gain insight into why it happened. Put judgment aside and look at what actually occurred and your role in the situation. When you learn the lessons related to what you did, you can also take steps to avoid doing it again. Living in denial keeps you from owning up to your mistakes and learning from them. Likewise, replaying the incident over and over again keeps the focus on what went wrong, instead of on what you learned. If you can acknowledge what behaviours and actions lead to the problem, you can take the steps necessary to make effective changes.
If your actions caused someone else harm, apologize. A heartfelt apology to someone you have hurt can go a long way towards self-forgiveness. It will probably be difficult to truly forgive yourself if you still feel as though you need to make amends with someone else. While you can’t anticipate how your apology will be received, saying sorry to the injured party can help you let it go sooner and find forgiveness for yourself. If you hurt someone else and are unable to apologize to them, writing down what you would like to say can keep you from ruminating on it. You can write out an apology to yourself as well. For an apology to seem sincere, you need to admit what you did wrong, explain why you regret it, acknowledge the pain you have caused, and describe what you plan to do differently in the future to ensure it is unlikely to happen again.
Focus On What You Learned
It is much easier to learn important lessons when things go wrong, then when they go right. If you can focus on the learning experience and what you will do differently going forward, you may find self-forgiveness more appropriate. When you know what you did and the consequences, you can make a different choice going forward. Sometimes this type of lesson is learned most effectively when you mess up. It is normal to get caught up in what you did wrong, but you may not learn much from this if it is your only focus. By focusing on what adjustments you need to make going forward, you can grow from the experience. When you can view it as a hard lesson learned, you may be able to start forgiving yourself.
Make Meaningful Changes
In order to forgive yourself, you may need to make some changes. Acknowledging that your actions caused a problem is only the first step. You also need to change your behaviour. If you continue the problematic behaviour, you are not taking responsibility for what you did. Only changing the behaviour can lead to the possibility of a better outcome. For example, if you are continuously late for work and feel bad about this, you can change this by leaving your house earlier. If making a behavioural change won’t help the situation, you can make a meaningful change in a different way. You could volunteer, share your story with others, or work to devise a future solution. Paying it forward is a good way to shift your focus from what you did wrong to what you are doing about it.
Just as you show compassion for others, you can show compassion for yourself. Continuously beating yourself up about something that has already happened and can’t be undone reinforces the negative. This can lead to a troubling self-perception that you are a damaged person who is not worthy of grace. Instead, you can treat yourself with kindness and acceptance. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to your best friend. Recognize that making a mistake does not make you a mistake. Even though you are probably harder on yourself than you are on anyone else, the way you treat yourself is a choice. Choosing to treat yourself with compassion and understanding can help you practice forgiveness for both others, and yourself.
PLEASE NOTE THIS BIBLE PASSAGES
Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Daniel 9:9 “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.”
Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more …”
Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’”
Micah 7:18-19 “18Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. 19You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
Hebrews 10:17 “Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
Jeremiah 31:34 “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
If you have confessed, prayed and fully repent of that sin or mistakes and God has forgiven you, then please forgive yourself
REV. DR A. A OBE