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Objectives Of The Lesson
The lesson is intended to let Christians:
- Know what forgiveness is all about and realize the need to forgive.
- Appreciate the benefits of forgiveness as a way of life.
Definition Of Terms
Victim: The person(s) offended
Offender: The person(s) to be forgiven
Offense:The action/inaction which is to be forgiven. Offense can be criminal or civil.
Criminal offense: That which is considered as very serious and against the stated country. It is strictly handled according to the laws of the land and the victim as a person, may not be in the position to forgive.
Civil offense: That which strictly affects the individual(s) and may be handled by the individual(s). The victim may forgive.
Sin: Disobedience to God’s commandment.
Forgiveness: The intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding (towards) an offense – the victim lets go all negative emotions (like annoyance and vengeance) and increases an ability to wish the offender well.
Forgiveness May Include, But Is Not Limited To Words Like
Pardon: Granting freedom/amnesty to the offender.
Excusing: Not holding the offender as responsible for the action.
Condoning: Failure to see an action as wrong.
Forgetting: Removing awareness of the offense from consciousness.
Reconciliation: Restoration of a relationship.
Forgiveness arises as a result of an offense in the course of human interactions/relationships. Relationships occur in the open or in secret.
It may be in:
- The family/home
- Work places/schools
- Market places
- Community/neighbourhood etc.
Therefore, inasmuch as we interact, we are bound to offend or be offended and must necessarily forgive.
Biblically forgiveness came as a result of sin. Man sinned, came short of thee glory of God and required forgiveness. In the Old Testament, burnt offerings where animals were sacrificed by the High Priest on behalf of the people were made for the forgiveness of sins – (Blood was shed).
John 3:16 -Love caused God to send His son to come and be sacrificed for the forgiveness of sins. This was the last sacrifice (shedding of blood) for the forgiveness of sins. (Matt. 26:28). Now, for forgiveness of sins, sinners are only required to hear the Gospel, believe the gospel, confess Christ as the son of God and be baptized into the Church and from there study and practice the word of God.
Matt. 28:19-20and Mark 16:16 – We are all given a great commission.
Jesus Christ stands as our model and we as Christians must emulate him.
Importance Of Forgiveness
Jesus taught about forgiveness in sermons, parables and by examples;
Matt. 5:7 – Sermon on the Mount (The Beatitudes).
Matt. 6:12 – The Lord’s Supper.
Luke 15:11-22 – Parable of the prodigal son.
Remarkable Biblical Examples Of Forgiveness
Gen. 50: Joseph forgave the brothers who sold him to slavery.
Acts 7:59-60: Stephen prayed for forgiveness for those who were stoning him to death.
Luke 23:33-34 : Jesus Christ prayed to the father for forgiveness for those who crucified him.
Benefits of Forgiveness
To enable us love and be loved. Love and forgiveness cannot be separated because forgiveness oils the wheels of love – Matt. 22:39-40, Gal. 5:15.
If we should love our neighbours as ourselves, we must forgive them whenever they offend us.
To Earn Forgiveness
Matt. 6:14; Matt. 18:35; Matt. 11:25; Col. 3:13; Matt. 5:7.
We are sinners and if we expect forgiveness from God, we must forgive one another.
To live in peace with one another:Rom. 12:18; Mark 9:50
We should not loose our value as the salt of the earth.
Matt. 5:23-24 – Make forgiveness a priority.
To maintain goodhealth and ensure spiritual growth.
How Often To Forgive
Be ready to forgive as many times as you are offended (70×7 times)
Matt. 18:21-22 – The parable of the unforgiving servant.
Luke 17:4 – The Bible instruct us to forgive and not to judge.
Luke 6:37 – (Judge not)
John 8:4-8 – Woman caught in the act of adultery and brought to Jesus.
Forgiveness does not include a failure to rebuke/punish (where necessary). The Bible provides us with answers, inspiration and direction in this regard.
II Tim. 3:16 –“All scripture is given by the inspiration of God and is profitable for…”
Prov. 13:24 – He that spareth the rod hated his child.
The offender should ask for forgiveness (where necessary) e.g. in the parable of the prodigal son – Luke 15:11-32.
We should also always pray to God for forgiveness of our sins – John 1:9.
As Christians, we must embrace forgiveness because Christ first forgave us. As much as possible, we must try to forgive in order to be forgiven. The one who forgives enjoys an inward peace of mind and the reward for not forgiving is judgment -James 2:13.[/column]