Accompanying Bob Deffinbaugh sermon: The Fundamentals of Forgiveness
Here is Deffinbaugh's definition of forgiveness:
forgiveness is a conscious decision on the part of the offended party to release the offender from the penalty and guilt of the offense committed. This release not only frees the offender from guilt and punishment, but it also frees the forgiver of anger and bitterness.
Forgiveness does not gloss over or minimize sin.
Forgiveness is not free - the penalty of sin must still be paid.
forgiveness is the decision on the part of the offended to suffer the penalty due the offender.Forgiveness is not earned.
We learn a few lessons about forgiveness from Joseph in this chapter.
Forgiveness should be granted quickly - the sooner reconciliation is achieved the better for all involved.
Forgiveness should be dealt with privately when possible. We do not need to expose the sin to as many people as possible, but rather as few (and as many) as is necessary to truly deal with the issue. Joseph didn't publicly broadcast his brother's sins to Pharaoh, which means Pharaoh didn't have to overcome any feelings of anger towards them, and there restoration was made much easier than it would have been. How tempting it can be to broadcast the sins of others, often under the guise of "needing to vent". How much wiser it would be to consider restoration and reconciliation above retribution and proclamation of our own innocence or victimization.
Forgiveness should be given freely and unconditionally, sacrificially, and permanently.
However, forgiveness does not remove all consequences of the sin. Forgiveness also seeks the correction and restoration of the sinner.
Perhaps the best analogy comes from the dealing of God in the life of the disobedient saint. Since all the sins of the Christian, past, present, and future, are forgiven at Calvary, God will not punish the saint who is forgiven once for all. But there is still the need for discipline and correction. The forgiveness of our sins assures us that God is rightly related to us, but discipline causes us to draw more closely to him.
This does mean that forgiveness is easy - far from it! We know we need to forgive, but how?
First, we need to recognize that forgiveness is commanded, it is not optional.
Second, we need to remind ourselves of our own sin and the forgiveness we have received from God.
Third, we need to recognize God's sovereignty involved in the offense committed against us. Suffering is always allowed in our lives for our good and for His glory.
Fourth, we need to battle the natural response of offended pride, and rather submit to a humble attitude.
Fifth, we need to meditate on the biblical definition of love, not as an emotion, but as a decision and an act of the will.
And lastly, that we can only forgive through His strength, not our own.
Monday's scripture focus: Genesis 46:1-47:12
Sunday's passage: Nehemiah 1-2
Monday's passage: Nehemiah 3-4, Psalm 138, 2 Corinthians 10