The How and Why of Forgiveness and Reconciliation

When ever you talk about forgiveness, there are hundreds of "What If" Questions. "What about this situation?" "What about this?" I could never answer all these questions in a sermon. For two weeks, we've studied Matthew 18:15-37, which cover both confronting sin and forgiving sin. I could spend a month preaching on each section and never come close to teaching the full depth and breadth of God's wisdom in these verses. So to augment what I taught, I'm urging, no I'm begging, you to read the following articles by Timothy Keller. 

Tim Keller defines forgiveness this way, "Forgiveness means giving up the right to seek repayment from the one who harmed you." And he goes on to teach that forgiveness means absorbing the debt yourself through a series of payments. What I want to add to yesterday's sermon is this. Some wrongs done to you are the spiritual equivalent of stealing a pack of gum, it doesn't take much payment to forgive. BUT other sins done against you are the spiritual equivalent of burning your whole house down. These big things like divorce, adultery, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional trauma, neglect, or murder take a mortgage worth of forgiveness payments over years and years to forgive. That is ok. Forgiveness is not instantaneous, it is a repeated decision to absorb the cost rather than seek revenge. 




IF YOU'RE ONLY GOING TO READ ONE ARTICLE, READ THIS ONE FIRST! It is a polished version of the stuff in the other article, though they each have their respective strengths. This article is the most helpful thing I've read on forgiveness. It skillfully relates the disciplines of confronting sin and forgiving sin. It answers most questions about, "Well what about this?" "What if he did this?" 

Article: Forgiveness and Reconciliation


Gospel Forgiveness

NOTE: If you're only going to read one of these articles, READ THE OTHER ONE. 

I'm guessing this was originally an outline for a class, Tim Keller taught for Married Couples. While the whole document is awesome for improving our communication and intimacy in marriage, the stuff on Forgiveness and Reconciliation starts on page 10, Session 3. The article gives a great theological explanation of forgiveness and reconciliation, and then a very practical how to guide for how do it in a marriage. 

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – August 8-15

The center column holds the main text for each day, while the right column includes secondary texts.

Basic Tips:1.) Use a translation you can understand. If new to the Bible, try the NIrV or The Message, which are both available online. 2.) Use a kids Bible with kids. 3.) Keep a pencil and notebook around to write down questions, observations, and conclusions. 4.) Have fun. Use your imagination and your brain.

Matt 18.21-35 - Reading Plan -  Aug 6-13.2016 - A Beautiful Mess - The Forgiving Church

Questions to Guide You:

n this series, “A Beautiful Mess”, we learn the Church is full of people that are simultaneously sinners and saints. This week, we’ll see that in church, we’re going to get hurt. People will sin against us, and we will have to forgive more times than we ever thought possible. This is how we learn grace.

  • “Brother or sister” refers specifically to fellow Christians, so why does Peter ask, “How many times,” if no one hurts one another in church? What does the huge number “7 times 7” or “77 times” tell us about the number of times we’ll have to forgive?
  • Can you think of times, when people in church hurt you? When you hurt them or disappointed them or neglected them? Where you forgiven?
  • How do we process the anger that comes with being hurt according to James 1:19-20?
  • Neh 9 is a prayer of confession, cataloguing Israel’s sin? How many times does God forgive Israel in Neh 9? How does God practice James 1:19-20 in his relationship with humans? How would you respond if you were God? When would you have given up?
  • Who does the King represent? The debtors? Why does the first servant extort the next? What would have prevented this? How are we like the first servant?
  • How does our awareness of God’s forgiveness impact our ability to forgive? How much has God forgiven you? Try to think about the ways God has spared you from consequences?
  • In Luke 7, Jesus says, “Whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Why is this? How can we remind ourselves of our great debts so that we can be more willing to forgive others.
  • In Matt 18 and Luke 7, we see the true nature of forgiveness. When the debt is “forgiven” it is really paid by the king. Forgiveness means I will pay the consequences of your mistake. I will bear the cost, and I will not force you to pay the price. How is forgiving another human for lying, cheating, etc. like paying another’s debt?
  • Write Jeremiah 50:20 out? Where has the record of our guilt and debt gone? How does Jesus pay the debt that was mine to pay?

If you are new to reading the Bible and would benefit from a brief orientation, download this How To Use This Book. If you want dig a deeper into the Bible, download this Guide to Inductive Bible Study.