In Part 1 of this blog series we looked at Exodus 8 and how Pharaoh waited a day to have Moses ask God to get rid of the frogs. Carrying unforgiveness around in your heart is like carrying a bunch of frogs around with you. Forgiveness allows us to get rid of these frogs. If you did not read Part 1 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 2, I shared a bit about my personal story and my journey to learn what real forgiveness was. If you did not read Part 2 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 3, I discussed the ideas of admitting we need help, taking responsibility for our own happiness, stop putting it off, and turning your mess into your message. If you did not read Part 3 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 4, I discussed the two major turning points in my life and how one of those turning points involved true forgiveness. If you did not read Part 4 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 5, I discussed some reasons why we fake forgiveness. If you did not read Part 5 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 6, I discussed some of the things that forgiveness is not. If you did not read Part 6 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 7, I discussed what forgiveness is. If you did not read Part 7 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 8, I discussed some ways you can know that you have forgiven someone. If you did not read Part 8 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 9, we looked at the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 and discussed the importance Jesus puts on forgiveness. If you did not read Part 9 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 10, we looked at the parable of the unmerciful servant, found in Matthew 18. We discussed the idea of how we should forgive others like God has forgiven us. If you did not read Part 10 of this blog series, you can read it here.
John 8:1-11 (NIV)
8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
The woman in this parable was caught in the act of adultery. She had sinned and clearly was in the wrong here. The Pharisees brought the woman before Jesus and told Jesus that the Law of Moses said that such a woman should be stoned. They then asked Jesus what they should do. Jesus gave a very unusual response. He said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” What Jesus was saying was that if you have ever sinned, then it is not your place to pass judgment on another person who has sinned. If they were sinless, they would have a right to throw stones at this woman who committed adultery, but since each one of them had sins of their own that they had committed, they should not judge this woman and throw stones at this woman. There was only One who had never sinned and could throw stones at her because He had never sinned Himself. That person was Jesus. Jesus is saying that people do not have the right to judge the sins of others. Only God can do that. Jesus had the right to pass judgment on this woman, but He chose instead to forgive this woman. He chose forgiveness over just punishment. This woman deserved to be stoned, but Jesus chose not to do that.
We all deserve death and we are in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Jesus chose to forgive this woman. Jesus knew that He was soon going to die for her sin and for the sins of all of us as well. Through Jesus’ forgiveness, the woman had an opportunity to repent of her sins and accept Jesus’ forgiveness. We all have that opportunity as well. If Jesus, who never sinned, can forgive, each of us can forgive too. Each of us is like this woman who committed this sin.
This is a great model for us to follow. People will do things wrong to us. They will do things that they deserve to be punished for. Since we sin too, it is not our place to judge those wrong actions done towards us. Only God can judge these people. What we can do though is to choose to forgive the person who has done us wrong, just as Jesus did with the woman who committed adultery.
Notice that Jesus did not say that what she did was right. He told her to go and to stop sinning. He did not justify what she had done, but instead forgave her for doing it. Just because you forgive someone does not mean that you are justifying what they did or saying that it was OK. Instead, you are choosing to forgive the wrong that was done to you.
Here is another verse in which Jesus speaks directly towards us forgiving.
Mark 11:25 (NIV)
25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
Jesus is telling us here that when we are praying to God, we need to free our hearts from any unforgiveness we have towards anyone else. If we hold on to unforgiveness in our hearts, God will not fully forgive us. It is saying that since God forgave our sins, we need to forgive the sins of others.
Here is yet another short verse that deals with blessing others who do you wrong.
Romans 12:14 (NIV)
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Jesus is asking us to go even a step further than simply forgiving someone who does us wrong. He is asking us to bless that person. When people openly and purposefully do things to hurt us, we should bless them. We are instructed not to curse back at the person, which would be my first inclination. To bless and forgive are the actions Jesus would take and we are called to model that behavior. Through blessing those who persecute us, we get blessed by God in the process. When you look at it like that, it does not seem like such a bad deal after all.