Understanding The Bible
"The Freedom of Forgiveness"

The Freedom of Forgiveness
Edited notes from: Augsburger, David, “The Freedom of Forgiveness (Seventy Times Seven),” The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, 1970

I.    Forgiveness is COSTLY (outrageously costly)
The question to be asked:  "Why Should I Forgive?"

Matthew 6:12 and Matthew 18:21-35
Verses for "The Kingdom," but reveal the essential nature of God where forgiveness is concerned.  "An unforgiving heart is unforgivable," says Jesus.  The man or woman who refuses to forgive cuts themselves off from the forgiveness and mercy of God.

A.    Repayment is impossible
So few sins can be paid for - and seldom does the victim possess the power or the advantage to demand payment.  Repayment is too often IMPOSSIBLE.

B.    Revenge is impotent
Pay back in kind - get even - but, to get even, is to make yourself even with your enemy.  You drag yourself down to their level, or below.  Revenge boomerangs.  "The man or woman who seeks revenge is like a man who shoots himself in order to hurt their enemy with the gun's recoil."  "Revenge is the most worthless weapon in the world.  It ruins the avenger while more firmly confirming the enemy in his wrong.  It initiates an endless flight down the bottomless stairway of reprisals and ruthless retaliation."

C.    Hate is impractical
You can nurse a grudge until it becomes full grown hate:  horns, hooves, tail and all.  But what do you gain?  In hatred everybody looses!

It will cost you your:
Friends, customers, patients, clients, husband, wife, children, your disposition, increased blood pressure, nervous breakdown, coronary, ...

Hate is only Slow Suicide.

D.    Peaceful co-existence can't be afforded
Don't hate and Don't love?
Live and Let live?
You can't afford the luxury of an unforgiving heart.
Only if you have no need for forgiveness yourself do you dare hesitate to forgive another.

We all need constant forgiveness, don't we?  The forgiveness of our fellow man and the forgiveness of God.  These two go hand in hand. The man who refuses forgiveness to his brother cuts himself off from the forgiveness of others.  What is your relationship to God -- Forgive and be forgiven?  The same is true of Love.  "The man who loves God must also love his neighbor."  The love of God and the love of man are interlocking and indivisible.  Forgiveness may seem impossible -- if you have become alien to God's love and forgiveness. God's forgiveness gives a man the freedom to love and live creatively, because he is a new creation.

Basis of Forgiveness by the Christian:  What Jesus Christ has accomplished upon the Cross and through Resurrection.  Incorporated in this accomplishment is the staggering difference between the debt I owed God and the Price Jesus paid in my behalf.  The contrast to our debt to God compared with others we may owe:  Immeasurable!  Nothing men can do to us can in any way compare with what we have done to God.



II.    Forgiveness is RARE (extremely rare)
The question to be asked:  "How Much Should I Forgive?"
There is no forgiveness in the cheap little game of looking the other way.  It is not pretending evil is not evil, hurt is not hurt.  Nor is it just forgetting.  You forget when you truly forgive, but not the other way around -- that's like trying to pass the final exam as an entrance requirement to a course.  You can try, but its like an insomniac trying to quiet the racing mind, they only make it race the more.  The one who struggles to forget, sears their mind with the memories of hurt. "Oh, its nothing,"  how basically dishonest.

Forgiveness involves TOTAL, COMPLETE, forgiveness.  It must be part of one's character.

Things that Forgiveness is NOT:
    1.    Looking The Other Way
    2.    Trying to Forget
    3.    Saying, "Oh, It Was Nothing."

Real forgiveness is the willingness to suffer and accept undeserved suffering; suffering that rightly belongs to the one who wronged you. Forgiveness for the Christian must be absolute, Again based upon the finished work of Jesus Christ.  The evil presented in the original act against you, and the resulting hurt are real.  The act of forgiveness must first begin with the realization that the offence was real and that the Forgiving Power of Christ is Absolute.


III.    Forgiveness is HARD (sometimes very hard)
The question to be asked:  "Am I  Willing To Forgive?"
Forgiveness denies the self that denies its rights.  It repudiates open revenge.  It refuses those little schemes to "get back."  Instead it chooses to hurt and suffer, the hardest choice in the universe, to accept undeserved suffering.  Suffering that could have been avoided, suffering that rightfully belongs to the one who's wronged you.

Are you willing to:
    1.    Suffer Undeservedly?
    2.    Accept Undeserved Suffering (suffering that rightly belongs to the one who wronged you)?


IV.    Forgiveness is COSTLY (Absolutely Costly)
Are you ready to PAY THE PRICE.
The one who chooses to FORGIVE, pays a tremendous price -- The Price Of The Evil That Is Forgiven!
(If I break a priceless heirloom which you treasure, and you forgive me, you bear the loss and I go free!)  (If I ruin you reputation and you forgive me, you fully accept the consequences of my actions and I go free!)

    1.    You bear YOUR OWN ANGER at the sin of another.
    2.    You bear YOUR OWN WRATH at the sin of another.

V.     Forgiveness is SUBSTITUTIONAL (an example of the Work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross, for you)
The question to be asked:  "Who Really Bears The Cost Of Forgiveness ?"
"All forgiveness, human and divine, is in its very nature substitutional.."

    1.    No one has ever forgiven another except he/she bears the penalty of the other's sin against him/her.
    2.    Jesus Christ Perfectly expresses Substitutional Forgiveness.  Jesus Christ substituted Himself for us, bearing His own wrath, His own indignation at our sin.  That's what forgiveness costs.  The cross shows us how hard it is to forgive. God paid the immeasurable cost of your forgiveness.  How can you hesitate to pay the infinitely smaller cost of forgiving your brother or sister, or your enemy.
    3.    What must I forgive:
            The trivial
            The petty
            The small
            The thoughtless
            The cruel
            The immense
            The evil

The price of forgiving is high.  There are no cheap reductions, no bargain pardons.

The cost:
Colossians 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."

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

You must forgive as Christ forgave you.  You must bear the cost of forgiving, just as God did for you. "God paid the immeasurable cost of your forgiveness ... how can you hesitate to pay the infinitely smaller cost of forgiving your brother, or your enemy?

What must I forgive?
The small, the trivial, the thoughtless mistakes ...
Everything, there are no exemptions.