Scripture Text: Luke 17:1-5
Memory Verse: “Great peace have they that love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Psalm 119:165
Lesson Aim: To emphasize the importance of learning to forgive.
Forgiving does not come naturally. It is not in our human nature to forgive. Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness was radical. The apostles were so challenged by Jesus’ response in Luke 17:4 that they cried out to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” Jesus let us know that we must love even our enemies. Forgiveness is still a challenge for us today.
Jesus admonished the disciples that if a brother trespassed against you seven times in a day, and repented, to forgive him (Luke 17:4). In Matthew 18, Jesus dealt with offenses and used the parable of the two servants to emphasize the necessity of forgiving. He increased the number of times we should forgive our brother from seven to 490 reinforcing the lesson that we must forgive others if we expect God to forgive us.
It takes faith to forgive. It requires a special trust in God to pray for those who have hurt us. However, we are instructed to be willing to forgive and love unreservedly (which is what forgiveness is), if we want to experience the blessings of God’s love.
When we ask forgiveness and accept with faith that it has been given, our sin is gone. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalms 103:12) This renewal of the spirit is the miracle of forgiveness and faith. When we are forgiven, our spirit is renewed and made whole and perfect again. God is faithful to forgive us; therefore we must be faithful to forgive others.
“Forgiveness is not making excuses or explaining why someone did what they did to you. Forgiveness is not forgetting about the offense and believing that time will heal the hurt. Forgiveness is not asking the Lord to forgive you for being angry and enraged at the person who hurt you. And forgiveness is not denying you were hurt or down playing your wound in light of what other people have suffered. Forgiveness is recognizing that you are hurt and what the person did to you was wrong. As an act of your will you choose to forgive their offense, cancelling the debt they owe you, just as God the Father cancelled your debt through faith in Jesus Christ.”1
The key to maintaining an attitude of forgiveness is preparation. You do not want to wait until you are in a confrontation or conflict then try to feel forgiving. Begin to build a forgiving attitude into your daily walk. Build it into your prayer routine and not only ask God to forgive you of your errors, but to give you a heart of love to forgive others.
Make a decision at the beginning of every day to forgive others the same way the Lord has forgiven you. As you ask God to forgive you of your sins, prepare yourself to forgive others. Make up your mind in advance and choose to live in a spirit of forgiveness. Decree and declare forgiveness as a matter of fact. Then claim the help of the Holy Spirit and obey.
Interact with God’s Word:
- What assurance do we have that God will forgive us of our sins? 1 John 1:9; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Micah 7:18-19
- Consider the parable of the two servants in Matthew 18:23-35. How does it relate to the 21st Century?
- What impact does unforgiveness have on our prayers? Matthew 5:20-26; Mark 11:24-26; 1 Peter 3:7
- Read the disciples’ response to Jesus in Luke 17:1-5. Why do you think they responded that way?
- What should we do daily in order to maintain a forgiving attitude?