What is pardon or forgiveness? Forgiveness is a deliberate act of grace not to hold something against another. The aim is to allow for both the healing of the injury and provide the possibility of the restoration of the offender. Christians are to be known as a forgiving people. Why? Because our God is a forgiving God and all our hopes rest on His forgiveness of our sins. Let us start to explore this topic together.
The pardon principle is about forgiveness.
1) What is forgiveness to you?
2) When is forgiveness easy or hard?
3) What causes it to be easy or hard?
Read Psalm 103:10–12, Isaiah 1:18-20, Isaiah 43:25, Micah 7:18–19, and Leviticus 19:17-18. Forgiveness has always been in the heart of God. These 5 passages show various aspects of forgiveness in the Old Testament. What can you learn from each one?
Read Luke 23:32-36, and Luke 7:36-50. The extent of God’s willingness to forgive is shown by Jesus’ willingness to forgive.
What do we learn from these two examples?
1) If Jesus could forgive his murderers, is it possible for us to forgive those who hurt us?
2) Imagine you were that woman at Jesus’ feet. How would you have felt before the event and afterwards?
Matthew 18:21-35. Jesus spent a lot of time talking about forgiveness. The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant is one such example.
1) How many times should we forgive?
2) Are there sins too big for us to forgive?
3) What are the implications of being forgiven?
4) Why is the forgiveness so freely given, then taken back? See verse 35 for a clue
Read Ephesians 1:3-10, and Ephesians 4:29–32. Christian forgiveness is based on what God has done for us. How do these Bible reading support and expand on this concept?
It has been my experience that people have problems forgiving others because they have a wrong understanding of what forgiveness is. For example, forgiveness does not mean we have to pretend the wrong never happened. Below is a list of 12 items that many commentators suggest are not forgiveness. Discuss as many of them as you can. Do you agree or disagree with any of them? Can you find evidence for them in the Bible?
1) Forgiveness is not based on how you feel about a person or wrongdoing.
2) Forgiveness is not based on the others' acceptance of wrongdoing.
3) Forgiveness is not pretending it never happened.
4) Forgiveness is not pretending you were not hurt.
5) Forgiveness is not a quick fix or one-off event.
6) Forgiveness is not given based on them agreeing to a set of conditions.
7) Forgiveness is not about changing the other person.
8) Forgiveness does not release them from all the consequences of their actions.
9) Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciling with the other person.
10) Forgiveness does not mean you have to trust the offender.
11) Forgiveness does not mean you justify their actions.
12) Forgiveness does not mean you have to allow the other person to continue to sin.