– MATTHEW 5:38-48

Returning evil for good is demonic. Returning good for good is human. Returning
good for evil is divine.

Mat 5:44-45 (KJV) "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that
curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully
use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father
which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good,
and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."

Forgiving those who wrong us is becoming like our Father which is God’s plan
for our life. (Romans 8:29) It is supernatural and requires our yieldedness
(death to self) to the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. But as Christians
we can and should forgive after the enormous debt we have been forgiven and
at the cost it required God to forgive us. ""For God so loved the
world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall
not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

In the movie Les Miserables we see God’s mercy and grace demonstrated
through the priest who shows mercy to Jean Valjean by saying he did not steal
the silver (thus not receiving what he deserved – imprisonment) and who shows
him grace (getting more than we deserve) by giving him even more of his own
silver. "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver
or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you
from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without
blemish or defect." 1 Pet 1:18-19

Larry Ham’s testimony of God’s mercy and grace empowered him to forgive his

The following points are taken from Steps to Freedom in Christ by Neil
Forgiveness is not forgetting, although after we forgive God begins to heal
our emotions over time.

Don’t wait until you feel like forgiving a person. Forgiveness is a choice,
an act of our will to 1) "Love (agape) your enemies, 2) bless (say good
things about) them that curse you, 3) do good to them that hate you, and 4)
pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (see above).

Forgiveness is choosing to not seek revenge (even in your mind) and living
with the pain of another person’s sin (which we will do anyway) but without
the bondage of bitterness and resentment.

Forgiveness is letting the person off your hook and trusting God to rightly
deal with the person – something we cannot do. But we must not pray for God
to "get them".

Don’t wait for the person to ask for forgiveness before you forgive them. Jesus
didn’t with us.

Yet to truly forgive "from the heart" (Matthew 18:35) we must feel
the pain, the injustice, the anger and take our emotions to the Lord and ask
for His grace to heal us and set us free.

Forgiveness brings freedom and God wants us to be free – and there is no other
way to be free than to forgive.

Unforgiveness breaks fellowship with the Lord and we lose His grace and peace
and the enemy can use this to take us further into sin. Matthew 6:12, 14-15;
1 John 1: 5-10; Hebrews 12:15

Forgiveness is following the example of Jesus and becoming more like Him.
"For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering
because he is conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive
a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and
you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because
Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his
steps. 22 "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth."
23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered,
he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly."
1 Peter 2:19-23

Recommended books on forgiveness: Total Forgiveness by R.T. Kendall;
A Grace Disguised by Gerald Sittser

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