This past Sunday at Centennial Baptist Church we began a new teaching series called “No Longer Bound: Living in the Freedom of Forgiveness.” We learned several important truths regarding God’s teaching, that we are to forgive other people when they wrong us. Ephesians 4:32 teaches us, “Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Allow me to hit the highlights real quick … Forgiveness is the promise never to bring up that sin against that person again – not to God, not to the person who committed it and not to anyone else.

Forgiveness is the deliberate decision to do away with it and move on. Forgiveness is an act of our will, not a feeling. Our forgiveness of others is to be patterned after God’s forgiveness of us. Psalm 103:12, “As far as east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Forgiveness is a choice. Forgiveness is a choice that can only flow out of a relationship with Jesus Christ. You might say, “I could never do that. I could never forgive them.” That is a true statement.

You never could, but God can do it through you, by His work of grace in your life. Nothing about forgiveness is easy, but everything about forgiveness is right. Forgiveness is necessary. Being unforgiving is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Forgiving is necessary for your health and well-being. You are not responsible for the other person(s). You are responsible for yourself and your actions. Wounded people wound people, but forgiven people forgive people. How do we make the choice to forgive someone? First, acknowledge the hurt and ask God to give you the strength to forgive.

You must release the person. I know what you are thinking, “But I don’t want to let them off the hook and get away with something.” We are not to exact judgment. They are not on our hook after all. If they have sinned they are on God’s hook. You must forgive them and turn it over to the Lord. Leave the justice and discipline up to God. Second, let the offense go. This is not to say that you pretend as if you were not hurt or nothing happened. Rather, it is the choice not to be defined by your hurts, but to be defined by the healing of God’s grace in your life.

How do we know if we have forgiven someone? Let me be brief. Resolve not to keep bringing it up. Refuse to hold a grudge. Relinquish the claim for repayment. Resist the temptation to retaliate. This is just a snapshot of what God is teaching us in the first lesson of forgiveness. We will continue the teaching series this Sunday at 10:30 a.m., as we consider the reasons that being forgiving is even a big deal.