Freedom to Forgive Others

Carson Sutton 3.11.20

I used to think clinched fists would help me fight better, but now I know they make me weaker.
—Bob Goff

‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
—Matthew 22:37-39

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
—Colossians 3:13

In our messy, aggressive, broken world, our tendency is to form fists and fight. We want nothing to touch or offend us, and if it does, justice must be obtained at all costs. But Jesus calls us to have our “palms up,” as Goff puts it.

Palms up means you have nothing to hide and nothing to gain or lose. Palms up means you are strong enough to be vulnerable, even with your enemies. Even when you have been tremendously wronged. Jesus was palms up, to the end.

We are called to forgive, but instead of viewing forgiving others as simply a duty, let us rather view it as a freedom offered to us. Jesus often interchanged forgiving and physical healing. Both forgiveness of sins and regaining the ability to walk have the effect of healing. Forgiving others in our lives brings about healing not only for the one we are forgiving but for ourselves as well. Without clinched fists, we are able to reach into our backpacks of emotional burdens and take one weight out to continue forward on our journey.

We have freedom to forgive in light of God loving us, us loving God, and us loving others. Consider for a moment that you are in desperate need to be forgiven. You have hurt the person you love most, trust most, and admire most. Wouldn’t you want to receive the freedom forgiveness offers?

Christ forgave us on the cross in our desperation without many even asking. Now we have been charged to pass along what undeserved privilege we have been given. We are called to live a forgiven life and forgive others. In this position of a “palms up” life, we live in freedom.

DISCUSSION

  • Consider a time when they desperately needed to be forgiven for what they had done.
  • How did you feel when you were unsure if the person you hurt would forgive you?
  • How did you feel when you heard the words, “I forgive you?”
  • Does thinking about this time make you more willing to forgive someone who has hurt you?
  • Is there a specific situation/relationship in which you might take on the “palms up” approach?
  • What happens if someone who hurt you doesn’t come to you and ask for forgiveness?
  • As Jesus was on the cross, he said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do” about those who were persecuting him. Does your heart allow you to take on the same kind of forgiveness of others?
  • How might forgiveness be a healing act?
  • It is never too late to ask for forgiveness or to forgive someone else, even though it may feel awkward. This week be thinking about if there is a relationship that needs the healing power of forgiveness.

PRAYER

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