Forgive to Live

Written by Karen

        Does the Bible provide any means whereby we can judge ourselves as to whether or not we´re truly in the faith? (We don´t forgive in order for God to save us, please don't misunderstand the two)

Key Text: Matthew 6:12
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors

        When we strive against all thoughts of revenge, when we will not do our enemies mischief, but wish well to them, grieve at their calamities, pray for them, seek reconciliation with them, and show ourselves ready on all occasions to relieve them. Thomas Watson

This quote can be directly related to Romans 12

1. When we strive against all thoughts of revenge.

Rom. 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

2. When we will not do our enemies mischief

Ro 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

3. But wish well to them

Ro 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not

4. Grieve at their calamities

Ro 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

5. Pray for them

Ro 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer

6. Seek reconciliation with them

Ro 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

7. And show ourselves ready on all occasions to relieve (come to their aid) them

Ro 12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head

These elements of forgiveness that Watson included in his definition are deeply rooted in Scripture.
Don´t seek revenge
Don´t return evil for evil
Wish your enemies well (it can be friend, family. Etc)
Grieve at their misfortunes
Pray for them
Seek reconciliation over a matte of disagreement
Meet your enemy's need with generosity

What if this is not our definition of forgiveness?

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15

Matthew 18:21-35Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

        What is the message in these verses? One who is truly born again will have a spirit of forgiveness within him.

Joh 15:5
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing

        The believer is in Christ, and Christ is in the believer. That which flows out of the believer is a result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.It´s impossible to be truly born again and not have the spirit of forgiveness. It may not be completely developed, but it must be there. Thus, whether one has a forgiving spirit or not is a test of whether or not one is genuinely born again. This may be one of the best tests of the validity and sufficiency of our faith. We must forgive to live.

A lesson from Corrie ten Boom:


        IT WAS IN A CHURCH in Munich where I was speaking in 1947 that I saw him-a balding heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat, the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones.
Memories of the concentration camp came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister's frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment of skin.

        Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland. This man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent.
Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: "A fine message, fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say,, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!"
It was the first time since my release that I had been face to face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

        "You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk, " he was saying. "I was a guard therre. But since that time, " he went on, "I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein-" again the hand came out-"will you forgive me?"

        And I stood there-and could not. Betsie had died in that place- could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

        It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.
For I had to do it-I knew that. The message that God forgives has has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. "If you do not forgive men their trespasses," Jesus says, "neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses."

        Still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. "Jesus, help me!" I prayed silently. "I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling."
And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this jealing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. "I forgive you, brother!" I cried. "With all my heart!"
For a long moment we grasped each other's hands, the former guard and former prisoner. I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then.


Adolph Coors IV (yes from the Coors beer name)

        On February 9, 1960, Adolph Coors III was kidnapped and held for ransom. Seven months later his body was found on a remote hillside. He had been shot to death. Adolph Coors IV, then fifteen years old, lost not only his father but his best friend. For years young Coors hated Joseph Corbett, the man who was sentenced to life for the slaying. Then in 1975 Ad Coors became a Christian. While he divested himself of his interest in the family beer business, he could not divest himself of the hatred that consumed him. Resentment seethed within him and blighted his growth in faith. He prayed to God for help because he realized how his hatred for Corbett was alienating him from God and other persons. The day came, however, when claiming the Spirit's presence, Ad Coors visited the maximum security unit of Colorado's Canon City penitentiary and tried to talk with Corbett. Corbett refused to see him. Coors left a Bible inscribed with this message: I'm here to see you today and I'm sorry that we could not meet. As a Christian I am summoned by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to forgive. I do forgive you, and I ask you to forgive me for the hatred I've held in my heart for you." Later Coors confessed, "I have a love for that man that only Jesus Christ could have put in my heart."

        We are not required to feel good about bad things. If someone hurts a member of your family, you are not going to feel good. Neither should you let it destroy you by not giving it to the Lord. Vengeance is His to execute.

1Pe 2:23
Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously

Eph 4:26
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath

Ro 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord


        To forgive doesn´t mean to excuse the wrong. This is a common misconception. Look at how God deals with us. On the one hand, He forgets our sin; on the other He chastens us and deals with us as children.

Hebrews 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

Hebrews 12:6-7 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

        If a man commits a crime and is caught, he will serve the time. We need to forgive him and pray for his restoration, but we can´t overlook the fact that his sin will bring judgment, and leave scars. We need to forgive even if the other person does not. Not only did God forgive us, but He forgave us despite the hurt to Himself. We say something like, “I know I should forgive him, but you don´t know how badly he´s hurt me; I just can´t forgive him.”

What is the Scriptural response:

Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

Col 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye

        We need to forgave as we have been forgiven. At the cross, Christ paid the price with His body and blood to make possible our forgiveness. It becomes effective only when we believe, but the atonement was completed on the cross at the greatest possible hurt to the Lord Jesus-not just His physical hurt, but that of taking upon Himself the sins of all mankind. Failure to forgive often results in deep-seated anger. And anger can eat away at us like a cancer. It strips us of our ability to function as God would have us to.

        In the case of Adolph Coors and Corrie ten Boom, the deeds were very bad. But they were freed from the slavery of anger and bitterness by surrendering them to God and trusting Him to make the wrongs right in His time. They could have easily become prisoners of their own hatred. Instead they learned that “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

Heb 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Are you and I characterized by a spirit of forgiveness in our hearts? That´s one test of the validity and sufficiency of our faith.

Baptist TOP1000 The Christian Counter The Fundamental Top 500