Forgiveness..the Real F word Part 2By Pastor Bobby


How Do I Forgive Others? 


Today we are continuing our series on The Real F Word, which is forgiveness, by talking about this difficult subject of—how can we forgive others?  How many of you would recognize the Lord’s Prayer?


 You’ve heard that term before, the Lord’s Prayer?  It’s found a couple of times in Scripture.  It’s found in Matthew 6 and it’s also found in Luke 11.


 It says, “Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Your name.”  What in the world does “hallowed” mean?  That means to honor God’s name.  That means God’s name is holy.  “May Your Kingdom come.  May Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.  Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our sins just as we forgive those who have sinned against us.  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever.


 SLIDE 2 Did you catch that verse in the middle of the prayer, “forgive us our sins just as we forgive” others from Luke 11:4, snuck away in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer, that little phrase, “forgive us our sins just as we forgive those who sin against us.”


  Now, why is that so hard?  I mean, it’s one thing to ask God to forgive us.

But the Bible says—just as God has forgiven us, then we also must forgive others.

 SLIDE 3 I think one of the reasons it is so hard to forgive others is because of a misunderstanding about what forgiving others really is.

SLIDE 4 here’s what forgiving others is  not—

1.      Forgiving others is not justifying their actions or dependent on a apology.  You see, if you have been harmed in the past, if you need forgiveness from someone, you don’t have to justify their actions.  You don’t have to say things like—well, they were under a lot of stress.  Or you know, they were under a lot of pressure.  Well, I certainly don’t think they meant it that way.  Forgiving others is not justifying their actions. Forgiveness sets limits on our negative self-destructing thoughts of retaliation. It does not demand reconsiliation.

2.      Forgiving others is not trusting the passage of time.  Have you heard that myth—time heals all wounds.  I’m thinking—what world are you living in?  The passage of time doesn’t make things better. Sometimes, I’ve noticed, that the passage of time comes alone.  It doesn’t bring about healing.  It doesn’t make things better, it just passes away.  So not trusting the passage of time.

3.      Forgiving others is not denying that you are hurt.  It’s not saying—oh, it didn’t hurt.  It didn’t matter.  I didn’t notice anything.  It didn’t affect me.  If you are a guy, we are really good at this.  Guys especially love to deny, we are tough, we are rugged.  We are individuals.  Nobody hurt us, I’m not hurt.  I didn’t feel a thing during that.  But you know, forgiveness, and when somebody hurts you, is like getting a splinter in your finger.  Have you ever had that?  I mean sometimes it may be really small, but if you just deny that it is there, then it is going to eventually harm your whole hand.  That little splinter can eventually harm your whole body.  So, it’s not denying that you are hurt.

4.      Forgiving others is not confronting them personally.  It’s not going to them, grabbing them by the shirt, and saying—give me an apology.  Forgiveness is not seeking revenge and getting in their face, as much as we want to do that when someone hurt us.

Forgiveness is not any of these.  What is forgiveness?  We need to know what it is before we can apply it.


SLIDE 4 American Heritage Dictionary tells us that to forgive is:

1.) To excuse for a fault or an offense; pardon

2.) To renounce anger or resentment against

3.) To absolve from payment of a debt

4.) To grant pardon without harboring resentment.

Oscar Wilde said, “Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive.”



 SLIDE 6  So what does it mean to really forgive others?  How can we forgive others just as God has forgiven us? 


As we look at this process this morning, one of the things I’m want to challenge you to do is to personalize the process.  So with that in mind, let me show you the first step in learning to forgive others and its:

  • 1.) Releasing your rights to Remember…….remember what?  I thought someone said its better to forgive and forget than to resent and remember?  True. However,

Remember how much I’ve been forgiven.

  Remember how much (with emphasis) I’ve been forgiven is kind of how that should be said.  Because the first step in forgiving others is to understand how much God has forgiven you.  How much has God forgiven you?  A lot!  He’s forgiven me a lot.  Remember a couple of weeks ago, at Easter, we talked about the Prodigal Son?

Isaiah 1:18 is such a great verse because it talks about God’s complete forgiveness.  It’s in  your outline. “Come, let us talk this over says the Lord.  No matter how deep the stain of your sin, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow.  Even if you are stained as red as crimson.  I can make you white as wool.”


 You see, before we can go further in this process of understanding how to forgive others, we must first understand how much God has forgiven us.


  We must remember we are the ones who went to God with this crimson stain on our souls and God totally forgave us.  Why?  Because God offers His forgiveness, not conditionally, but unconditionally to those who are not in fellowship with Him. That is the beginning process of forgiveness. We will find out though that for those who have begun the walk or journey of forgiveness, there are deeper levels of forgiveness.  It is so important that we remember.  That’s step number one.  You have to get this step down first because only forgiven people can forgive others.





Jesus tells a story, a parable, sometimes call the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.

 It’s in Matthew 18.  He tells the story of a king who is owed a lot of money and the king decided to call in the people who were in debt to him and make them pay.  So the first guy that the king calls is a guy who owed him millions of dollars.  So the guy who owes the millions comes before the king and the king says—you owe me millions, pay up.


 The guy says—I don’t have the money so the king says—I will throw you, your wife and your children in prison.  That’s what they did in those days.  It’s kind of like what they do these days if you have ever missed a credit card payment.  So that’s what they did.  The guy fell on his knees, the person who owed the millions and he fell on his knees before the king and he said—King, oh King, be patient with me and I will pay it all back.  First of all, he was probably telling a lie because millions of dollars in those days would have been more than the gross national product of the nation.  He certainly wouldn’t have been able to pay it back.  But look what the king did.  The king, it says, was filled with pity for him and he released him and forgave his debt.  He says—don’t worry about paying me back.  You’re free.  He had pity on him.


  Well, the man who was in debt he left the king and was walking down the street.  He sees a guy who owes him a few thousand dollars, this man goes up to him and grabs the person who owes him a few thousand by the throat and he begins to shake him.  Shaking the money out of him.  By the way, that was legal in those days, too.  If someone owed you money and you saw them on the street, you had the right to take revenge so he begins to shake him by the throat.  The guy who owed thousands fell down in front of the guy who had just been cleared of millions and this is what he says to him—dear sir, be patient with me and I will pay it back.  But his creditor wouldn’t wait and he had the man arrested and jailed and thrown into debtor’s prison, he, his wife and his children.


 Well, the word got back to the king.  The king heard what had happened and he was very upset.  The king went to the man who he had forgiven millions,

Then in Matthew 18:32-35, here’s how the story ends.  It says, “Then, the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, you evil servant I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me, shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant just as I had mercy on you?

  Then the angry king sent the man to prison until he had paid every penny.”  The story ends but Jesus continues to commentate and says, “That’s what my Heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters in your hearts.”  That’s some strong language.








How do you forgive others?  Even though it may be a bit painful, as we continue to walk through this process, I want you to personalize it.  I want you to think of someone that you need to forgive and think about how you can apply this process to that situation.  Well, the first step is to remember how much I have been forgiven.  Here’s the key to this whole process.  It’s actually step number two. 


2.) you are releasing your rights to revenge.


  Natives in Africa capture monkeys by setting up cages and placing bait inside. The bait can be anything a monkey would want, such as food or an unusual object. The monkeys are lured to the cages but are too smart to actually go inside. Instead, they reach through the bars, grab the bait, and try to pull it out. Because the object is too large to go through the bars, the only way the monkey can get away is to drop the bait. But monkeys refuse to let go. They kick and squeal but keep holding on. They stay trapped in bondage because they refuse to let go of the bait.


  • Have you grabbed Satan’s bait, which is called offenses? Satan sets his trap, using offenses as bait. If you grab the offense, you will be his prisoner as long as you hold on. Many people are incarcerated in the devil’s dungeon because they refuse to let go.
  • You must choose to let go of all past offenses and keep your hands off all future ones.

You can write this down, after you have remembered, now it’s time to release your rights to revenge.  Release the person entirely.  The person who you are thinking about in your mind, release them entirely.  What does it mean release?  It means to set them free.

 It means to no longer  hold on to the bitterness or the resentment or the BAIT.

  It means to stop playing the tapes of the incident where they harmed you over in your mind.

 It means to fully let it go.        To drop the grudge.  You see, to release a person means you don’t have to confront them, repair or even reconcile, because releasing is all about your decision.  You don’t even have to be in a conversation with the other person to release them.  You can choose to release them.  Forgiveness is always a choice.


  Forgiveness is not an emotion, it is a choice.  In this step of the process, you make the choice to forgive them.  When you make that choice, tremendous freedom is yours.  You see, a lot of you, instead of releasing a person, you are holding a grudge toward a person.  Got any grudges in your life?  I read this week that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will get sick.  Have you ever done that?  Have you ever held a grudge?  Are you ready to release that person?  Do you want to walk out of here today free and experiencing the joy that God wants to give you when you forgive others?

This process of setting someone free, of releasing them, is so key to the freedom that God wants you to experience in forgiveness. When you fully release a person, what are you doing? 

You are giving up the right to repayment.

Forgiveness means you love mercy more than justice. (Micah 6:8)

Unforgiveness means we desire to hurt the people who have wounded us. 

 It's like the little boy who was sitting on a park bench in obvious agony.  A man walking by asked him what was wrong.  The boy answered, "I'm sitting on a bumble bee."  "Then why don't you get up?" the man asked.  The boy replied, "Because I figure that I am hurting him more than he is hurting me!" 

          The healing process begins when we get up off the park bench.  God will only heal our wounds when we stop inflicting pain on the one who hurt us. 

 It’s not on the screen.  You’ll have to jot this down in your notes.  You are giving up the right to repayment.  You are releasing the right to repayment.  When somebody harms us, we think that they are now in debt to us because they harmed us and now they owe us, they have to repay us for the wrong they have done.  But when you release the person, you are releasing your right to repayment.  You are saying, that person no longer owes me anything.  I am releasing them from that debt.  Just as the king released the debt in the story of the person who owed him millions.

The right to revenge.  So when someone harms you, it is natural to get revenge.  You want to have that conversation with them.  You want to let them have it.  You really want to go at it with them, but when you fully release them, you are saying—no longer am I going to seek revenge.  You know, really, you don’t have to anyway.  Because revenge is not your job.  God says He’ll take care of that.

SLIDE 8 Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.  Dear friends, never avenge yourselves.  Leave that to God. For it is written, I will take vengeance.  I will repay those who deserve it says the Lord.”

SLIDE 9 "You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist."  --Golda Meir

"You know you have forgiven someone when he or she has harmless passage through your mind."

Rev. Karyl Huntley

“When we harbour unforgiveness and bitterness, then our Christianity is not worth no more than the wood Jesus died on”  Bobby

SLIDE 10 He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.--George Herbert





When it comes to this issue of release, you will either release them once and be done with it for the rest of your life, or you will rehearse the episode of pain for all of your life, because that’s what it’s down to.  Either release or rehearse and you have the choice.  Forgiveness is always a choice.  It’s the most difficult stage, but it’s one of the most difficult stages, but it’s one of the big steps.  So once you take the big step of releasing them, if you look on the back of your notes, now  you are ready for number three.

  • SLIDE 11
  • 3.) Receive your right to Recognize

Now you are ready to recognize God’s purpose in the process.



An old Roman proverb says, "When the pilot does not know for what port he is headed, no wind is the right wind." But if you know where you’re going, & you can catch the wind in your sails, then not even the storms can deter you.


 “The wiseman is the one who recognizes the purpose in every problem and accepts it as a process” PBS


You know, the reality is that this has to be step number three.  You can’t recognize God’s purpose in the process until you first release the person.  If you try to do it in reverse, it just leads to confusion.

  Some of you have tried that.  Some of you have said—God, if you will just show me your purpose for this pain or this hurt, then I will be able to release them.  But the way it works is, God says—no, you have to release them first.


  You have to take the action that you can take first, and it’s only after you release someone that then you will have the freedom to understand my purpose.  Because when you are holding a grudge, you are separating yourself from God and He can’t speak to you properly.  When you release that person, you not only release them, but you have opened the doors between you and God, so now He can teach you.

 So  now He can show you His purpose for this pain.  You know there is a verse that’s not in your outline, but it’s perhaps one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible when it comes to this area.  It’s in Romans 8:28.


 You have probably heard this but is often abused when something goes wrong because a lot of people think this verse says—all things are good.  Actually what this verse says is, “God works all things together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.”  This verse is very important on this point of understanding God’s purpose in the process.



If you go all the back to the first book in the Bible, the Book of Genesis.  You find that over the last three chapters of that book, 47-50, you find that God is teaching us a story of how He can bring good out of evil.  It’s the story of Joseph.


 When Joseph is just a child, not even a teenager, he is out in the desert playing with his brothers and a band of thieves come along and the brothers have this sinful idea of selling their brother into slavery.  That’s what they do.  They take the brother, they give him to the thieves and they take the money and they pocket it.  Then when they get back home to dad, they say—oh, dad, you aren’t going to believe this.  Our young brother, Joseph, fell into a well, and he’s dead.  Bad situation.

  As things would happen, Joseph eventually goes from bad to worse, and he ends up in this pit, in this prison.  There in the prison he begins to have these dreams.  Because he’s a person who understands some of the supernatural things in the world during that day, he begins his rise to power and out of that bad situation, some good things begin to happen in Joseph’s life.

 While we aren’t told it directly in Scripture, over the course of time, Joseph begins to free his brothers.  He lets go of the grudge toward his brothers.  Because of that new freedom he has experienced, he continues to rise and rise and rise until in the country next door to where his family lives, he is the right hand man of the governor.  Well, as fate would have it, in this long story toward the end of the Book of Genesis, the next door nation fell into hard times and a famine came into the land and they decided to send some emissaries from that nation to the nation that had plenty of food and guess who they sent?  They sent Joseph’s brothers.

 Now imagine the story if you will, from the neighboring country, Joseph’s brothers come over to beg for food and they are now sitting before the right hand man of the governor, who is their little brother.  He recognizes them.  He has released them.  But it takes them a while for them to recognize him, but when they do, something very interesting happens in Chapter 50 of Genesis.

 Look at what Joseph says to them, “But Joseph told them, don’t be afraid of me.”  Well, they should have been.  He was the right hand man.  He could have taken their lives there and then.  It says, “Don’t be afraid of me.  Am I God?  To judge and punish you?  As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil.  He brought me to the high position that I have today so that I can save the lives of many people.”  Would you underline the phrase “God turned it into good”.  It doesn’t say—God called it good.  It doesn’t say—God named it good.  It says—God turned it into good.


 And that’s the miracle of forgiveness.  When you and I release another person, in that bad situation, we can still recognize God’s purpose and He will take something bad and turn it into good.  Joseph recognized that.




One of the things that this book taught me as it took us through the Scriptural understanding of forgiveness, is that forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same.  Have you ever heard that?  Forgive, forget, restore?  They are all different things.  Forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same. 

You know, there are times when you should not reconcile.  There are times when you should not reestablish the relationship.  For example, don’t reestablish the relationship if it is going to lead to additional personal harm.  So you were harmed by this person once, you try to go and reestablish a relationship, you get harmed again.  Don’t do that.  Don’t reestablish the relationship if there less than 25% chance of restoration.  You say—that’s kind of vague.  25%.  That’s the freedom that God gives you.  He gives you the choice to decide.  He never says you have to reestablish the relationship.  You get to use your own wisdom to decide.  Don’t reestablish the relationship if the other person is unaware that they have harmed you.  How many times has that happened in your life?  It’s happened in my life.  Somebody comes along and harms me and they walk away blissfully unaware.  They don’t even know that they have harmed me.  I would actually cause more pain to them if I went and reestablished the relationship.  So it’s more of a personal issue for me.  Then, don’t reestablish the relationship if you expect an apology.

 We go to reestablish a relationship with someone who has harmed us and we have this tape in our mind of how we think it’s going to play out.  We are all going to hug and the person is going to fall and say—I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.  That only happens in movies.  It doesn’t happen in real life.  So if you think you are going to get an apology, don’t even try.  But if you can, if it is possible, God is so interested in relationships that, if it can happen, then do it.  The ball is on your side and you can let go, then do it.  But you see, whether you can reestablish the relationship or not, you must release them, and you must look for God’s purpose in that.  Then the Bible says if you can’t reestablish the relationship, what you can do is you can begin to act toward that person in good ways. 

Let me explain.  Romans 12:21.  As a matter of fact, go ahead and find your place there and then let’s read this verse out loud together from Romans 12:21.  It says, join with me, “Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing” evil.  No.  That’s what we wanted to hear, right?  I mean, two wrongs make a right.  First take evil and conquer evil with evil.  You came down on me, I’ll come down on you even harder.  That’s not what the Bible says.  Let’s read it again, this time I’ll try to get it right.  Here we go, “Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.”  What does that mean?  It means, even if you can’t reestablish the relationship, that’s the ultimate good, reestablish the relationship, but if you can’t, you can still act in a good way toward that person.  You may have to do this privately.  Not publicly, but privately.  You begin to change the way you think and you think good thoughts about that person.  You begin to pray, not God’s vengeance, but God’s blessing on that person.  You begin to look for ways  you might be able to act in a positive way toward that person.   You may decide to stop talking about the situation.  Say—I’m gong to let it go because I have assassinated this person’s character enough and now I am going to act in a good way toward them and just drop it.  Listen, Biblically, it is okay not to restore the relationship.  Let’s say that  your best friend, for example, has an affair with your spouse.  That would be an injustice.  That would be a painful thing.  It would be a serious breach.  According to the Bible, you are required to forgive that person.  Your best friend has an affair with your spouse, you are required, Biblically, to forgive your friend.  But you are not required, Biblically, to remain friends.  Doesn’t mean that you are still going to hang out on Saturday nights.  That’s over.  The breach has happened.  Forgiveness, yes.  Reconciliation, only if possible.

  You see, if you have forgiven the offender, you have released the person, if you are following the process that we are talking about today, then you should feel no guilt and no shame that the relationship hasn’t been fully restored.  It’s okay not to restore the relationship and there are even times when we just shouldn’t.  Look at this next verse, Romans 12:18.  “Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible.”  The first says two interesting things.  First, “do your part”.  What does that mean?  It means, it’s up to you to decide.  You do your part.  You can’t force the other person to release  you, but you can do your part by releasing them.  You can’t force the other person to discover God’s purpose, but you can do your part in discovering God’s purpose.  Do your part.  Do the side of the equation that you can.  And then it says, “as much as possible”.  If possible.  It’s not possible, skip this step and move on to number five.





5.) Receive your right to Repeat

Repeat the process.  Have you ever read the back of a shampoo bottle?  It’s kind of funny what it says, it says, wash, rinse, repeat.  Same process, you know.  This process of forgiveness is the same way.  You are going to go through this process for the rest of your life. You know, maybe in Matthew 18:21, just before Jesus told that story about the king and the million dollar debt, and all that, just before that happened, Peter came to Jesus and maybe there had been some grudges between the disciples and maybe there had been some hard feelings among the disciples, and Peter, who I love, comes to Jesus and says, “Jesus, how many times do we have to forgive another person?” 

In that day, the law said seven times.  The law also said, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”  But nonetheless, Jesus got rid of that too.  The law said seven times and Jesus said this.  Now, let me tell you this, let me give you a new law, look in your notes, Matthew 18:22, “No, Jesus replied.  Seventy times seven.”  Now, listen, some of you engineer-types, you just added that up and said 490.  I’ve got it.  Oh, I understand.  490 times.  I’ve got it.  That’s not what Jesus was talking about.  What was Jesus saying?

 He was saying—how many times should you forgive others?  How many times do you want God to forgive you?  That’s the answer.   How many times do you want God to forgive you?  Listen, there are things in my life that I have done wrong thousands of times and had to go to God to forgive me.  What if I went to Him and He said—Nelson, I’m sorry.  You are out of luck.  That’s 491.  End of story.  But He doesn’t do that. 

Instead, no matter how many times I go to God, whenever I ask God for forgiveness, He forgives me every time.  Every time.  So when we are hurt by other people and we go to God and say—God, how many times do I have to forgive them?  Seventy times seven in God’s math is not 490.  It’s every time.  Every time.

But you must understand that some of the strongest theological teaching in the Bible is around this principle that our forgiveness by God is somehow connected to our forgiveness to others.

This is one of four times when Scripture gives this statement.  Matthew 6:14-15.  Jesus said, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your Heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive our sins.”  Strong language.  This is a big issue.  God desires what’s best for you.  And God says that the only way that you can experience His best is to forgive others.  Because when it comes to forgiving others, forgiveness is a choice.  It’s not an emotion.  It’s a choice.  Today you have a choice.  You have a choice. On one side of the equation you can choose to hold on to your grudges.  You can choose to hold on to your desire for revenge, and you can let bitterness run wild in your life.  Bitterness can be the choice that you choose.  God will not force you.  It’s up to you.






"Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work" (Prov. 24:29).

 Corrupt nature thirsts for retaliation, but grace must suppress it.

 If someone has slandered us, that does not warrant us to slander him. "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city" (Prov. 16:32):