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What Fuels Forgiveness?

God’s Forgiveness of us!

Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, their faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing….
                   Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven,
                       whose sins are covered.
                   Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.
Romans 4

Your forgiveness of others is fueled by constantly pumping into your soul the grace God has covered your sin.

Louis Z – “God could forgive him for all the rotten things he had done in his life…he ought to forgive those who had done him wrong”


What does Forgiveness Entail?

We see this answer in vs. 27. “Pity, Forgiveness and Release”

  • Pity: This is such a weak word in the English language. In the Greek it is a very strong & important word (plus fun to say) “Splagchnizomai” which means deep internal compassion. We might say, Your heart goes out to them. To have “Pity” on someone requires you to do the internal work of reminding yourself of how much you have in common. Don’t you find this so challenging in Forgiveness. So often when someone has wronged you, you don’t want to work to identify with them; you want explode in anger and choke them. 

Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back–in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.”– Frederick Buechner

Pity means that to make your heart go out to someone is to deliberately work at seeing yourself as not that different than the other person.

  • Forgiveness: You don’t pay. The King tells the servant you don’t have to pay, I will absorb the loss. When someone offends you & you extend forgiveness you are saying: “I’m not going to make you pay”.But is the offense then simply forgotten? NO! By forgiving them you are not holding the debt against them but you are holding the debt – you are left dealing with the deficit.

    Think of it like damage to your car: Let’s say, after Iron Leadership I get mad at you and decide to run into your car and I create a $1000 dent. If you choose to forgive me, then I walk away. Has the dent disappeared? No. You are left holding the $1000 dent.  When you forgive it doesn’t automatically make the dent go away. NOT – forgive and forget! Forgiveness means you bear the dent and you pay for the emotional damages.

    Don’t you find this so challenging in Forgiveness

    Let’s be honest; One of the burdens of forgiveness is I don’t want to pay for someone else’s mistakes/sin. I prefer acting like the Unforgiving Servant and choke payment out of people.

    Jesus says “Come unto me, all who are heavy burden” Burdened by carrying the dents other people have created! When we come before the Lord in prayer, we fully acknowledge that in our pain we prefer choking the debt out of people who have hurt us, but we will not; we will follow the example of King Jesus, and act like a servant AND  Jesus promises to help us to bear that cost.

  • Released – means to “let it go, let it die.”
    Corrie ten Boom likened forgiveness to letting go of a rope attached to a big bell. When you let go of the rope the bell keeps ringing. Momentum is still at work. However, if you keep your hands off the rope, the bell will begin to slow and eventually stop. It is like that with forgiveness. When you decide to forgive, the old feelings of unforgiveness may continue to assert themselves. But as you affirm your decision to forgive, that unforgiving spirit will begin to slow and will eventually be still. Forgiveness is letting go of the “rope”.How do you let go of the rope?
    By not continuing to bringing it to mind, re-living it and rolling it over,  having an argument in my mind. This is part of the 70 x 7 principle: Each time the person or situation comes to mind, you say I’ve extended forgiveness, I’m not going to allow this to control my life. For some pain this may take a few moments to kill; others use all 490.I am not going to take pleasure in the other person experiencing pain. Even though they deserve it! If you do this, Lewis says “These are the little marks or twists on the inside of your soul which in the long run will turn you into a hellish creature.” Instead, you are going to wish for their good. Lewis says “This does not mean feeling fond of them or saying that they are nice when they are not-  but wishing their good means hoping that they may, in this world or another, one day be cured.”

    I’m not going to keep giving it oxygen by bringing it up in conversation. This is like feeding oxygen to the flame of anger. I keep it alive but keeping to bring it up. I allow it to have a life & control over me. If I keep it active in conversation, then I have not Forgiven.

    Forest fires actually burn above and below ground. According to my friend who was in the Forestry Business. You may put out the flame which can be seen but underground there may still be a fire that is consuming the organic material underneath the forest like hot coals spreading under your feet.

“These kinds of underground fires can last for months and must be carefully watched for a long time because they can jump trenches, spring up and continue to consume a forest. What needs to happen is the area to be completely flooded.”

Forgiveness doesn’t mean there are no consequences

If someone works for me is discovered stealing, I will work to simultaneously Forgive them & Fire them. Forgiveness &  Consequences are not competing concepts.  

Do I forgive someone who is Unrepentant?

What if they are not asking for forgiveness? Yes you should extend Forgiveness. Keep in mind that forgiveness is not the same thing as reconciliation. So, you should extend forgiveness even if the other person is uninterested. If you don’t, then you live in a prison the other person built. You should let go of the rope even with people who are not repentant.


  1. What does Leadership have to do with Forgiveness? Is forgiveness an important leadership characteristic? Why/Why not? 
  2. When you consider the topic of Forgiveness for yourself, what comes to mind? 
  3. Talk about these three requirements of Forgiveness. 
    • Pity: Requires you to do the internal work of reminding yourself of how much you have in common, compassion. 
    • Forgive: You pay for the dent made by others. 
    • Release: Letting go of the rope of anger or bitterness. Not bringing it up in your mind or conversation – flooding the field so there are no hot coals remaining.


Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips

Pastor, Christ Community Church

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