Who Benefits from Forgiveness?

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A lack of forgiveness leads to a life of bitterness. When we hold on to the anger caused by someone we believe has wronged us, we build up resentment, jealousy, and spite. As someone who has felt the effects of depression, both in my own life and with loved ones, those behaviors are all too familiar. There is danger in holding onto these feelings. We need to release them and to let God take control.

So far this week in LivingItOut, we have talked about the first three steps to experiencing freedom with others through forgiveness: Admit It, Understand Its Aftermath, and Confess It All to God.

Today, we will talk about the final two steps: Forgive the Offender for My Benefit and, if the offender repents, Forgive Them for Their Benefit.

Forgiving someone is not just about them; it’s about us, too. Choosing to forgive sets us free as we start trusting God to deal with the sin issue in the other person and to heal our pain. It is NOT letting them off the hook. God is a far better arbitrator of justice than we will ever be. Let him do his thing.

If the offender repents, true healing and reconciliation occurs when we forgive them for their benefit.

Ephesians 4:32
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

What if God held onto the wrongs we had committed? Thankfully, this is not his character, but if anyone has a right to be upset, it would certainly be him. Instead of holding on to wrongs, God repeats this final step of forgiveness over and over and over.

Matthew 18:21-27  
21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”

22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!

23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.

26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.

Praise be to God who, through sending his Son to die on the cross, paid our debt in full, reconciling us to God through his selfless sacrifice.

Who do you need to forgive in order to find freedom?

Is there someone in your life that you have forgiven, but they have not repented yet? If they were to repent, could you extend forgiveness for their benefit?

Next Steps:  
Take a moment and reflect how you have benefited from forgiving others in your lifetime.

Write down the practical steps you need to take to begin down God’s path to heal from hurt.

God, thank you that you have freed me from my own life that is dominated by sin and death. Reveal to me not only who to forgive, but also how to forgive so that I can move from bitterness to freedom. I don’t want to hold on to my anger or resentment toward that person. I want to have mercy as you have mercy, and to love as you love. Amen.

This post was written by Ryan Cook. Ryan is an executive director for two Chick-fil-A restaurants in Toledo, so if you see him at church and think he looks familiar, that’s where you know him from. He is married with a son and a daughter. Follow him on Twitter @CookfilA.

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