Forgiving Because I'm Forgiven

Bible Book: Ephesians  4 : 29-32
Subject: Anger; Bitterness; Revenge; Forgiveness of Others

Forgiving Because I Am Forgiven

Dr. J. Mike Minnix
Ephesians 4:25-32
Ephesians 4:29-32
29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Paul is writing concerning the Christian life in contrast to the unsaved life, and he reveals that the believer is to think right, talk right and act right. One key issue in our ability to do this is our wisdom in dealing with anger, resentment and bitterness. Certainly there is a justifiable anger, for even the Lord has revealed His anger in His Word and in history. But the Christian is told to “be angry and sin not," so there must be an acceptable anger and an unacceptable anger in the Christian life. You can be assured that most anger in our lives as Christians is selfish and gives the devil a foothold in our lives.

I was plagued by sore throats for several months and I was told by a doctor that an irritated throat is susceptible to germs and infections. He told me that preachers often have a throat problem because they speak every week and shake hands with hundreds of people. Infections are to be expected. My friend, anger in the Christian life makes one susceptible to a foothold for the devil. Anger opens us up to Satan's work in our hearts. Anger and bitterness create weak spots where Satan can do his work in our hearts, minds and in our actions.

Anger is a devastating emotion. Always remember this, anger is one letter from D-anger – danger! When someone hurts us or displeases us, we tend to get angry. Then we either blow up or clam up. Dr. Jay Adams, a once noted Christian psychologist, said that 90% of all counseling sessions are due to unresolved anger. Now just think about that – 90% of all his counseling sessions were due to unresolved anger in the lives of Christians.

Three men were talking about the health of people and one of them said that the reason people were unhealthy was because they ate too much. The second man said that it was not how much you ate but what you ate that made the difference. The third wisely said that it was neither of the former two but rather the problem was not what you ate, or how much you ate, but what is "eating you" that makes the difference. Now, that is the truth!

Indeed, when something is eating at you it does affect your health and every other part of life. What are we to do when we feel mistreated? There was a father and his son talking about an ant. The father asked, "After the ant has done all his work, what happens?"  The little boy said, "Someone steps on him!" Well, you may feel that way. After all the good you try to do, someone is always stepping on you. Now, listen carefully, we are not to carry a grudge around in our heads or hearts. God said so and there are good reasons why He said it. If we act inappropriately when we feel hurt by someone, we give the devil a foothold in our lives and it can mark us for life. If we do not handle this properly, we will never be or do what God saved us to be and redeemed us to do for Him.

So what are we do to when we are hurt by someone? We are to do that which is the most difficult thing to do. We are to do that which Christ did for us. We are to forgive. If we fail to do so, we give the devil a “foothold,” a place in our lives for him to grapple with us and lead us into even deeper sin. When we hold a grudge and pet the bitterness that rises in our hearts, we grieve the Holy Spirit. In other words, we double the damage – we let the devil it and we tell the Holy Spirit to step back – no wonder this issue is addressed so forcefully in God’s Word.

Now, let’s look at our text and see what the Bible tells us that forgiving will do in our lives and those around us.

I. Forgiving Frees us from Obligation

Look at verse 32.

When a person is hurt by someone emotionally, the feeling is always to get even. In fact, we feel an obligation to do so. The desire and feeling that it is right for us to do that is registered in our brains. The trouble is that this kind of obligation will keep you from sleep, create ulcers and result in a perverted personality. In fact, it can get you killed! Many people react to a felt hurt from others by striking out against the one perceived to have caused their pain. Often, this results in even more pain and even death.

Listen, when you forgive as God intends, the obligation to get even is removed. You do not need to get even any longer, nor do need to pay someone back . You are set free.

I saw a t-shirt some time ago that read, Don't get mad, get even." That is a dangerous statement and one that goes against all that Christ did for us and taught us. We need a t-shirt that reads, "Don't get mad, forgive – that's what Jesus did!"

You might ask why we need to let someone get by with hurting us. Now follow as I read Romans 12:19,

“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

Actually, those of us who know and trust the Lord can leave vengeance to Him. If we seek to get revenge, God steps away from the situation. If we turn it over to Him, we are giving Him room to step in and deal with in His own way. And, you can be sure, His way is always best. You may never know how God dealt with it, but believe me, He will! He is God. He loves you. He will take care of matters that concern you in the best way, the right way and the divine way. Once we are able to leave things in His hands, we are freed from the obligation to do something about that which has been done to us.

Have I ever been in a situation where someone did something to hurt me? Sure I have! And, I’m sure I’ve hurt others, whether knowingly or unknowingly. We simply must learn to let go of the obligation to get even and discover that wonderful peace that comes from trusting matters to the Lord. Besides, the last thing I want in my life is for the Holy Spirit to be grieved within me!

Now, let’s look at the second thing that happens when we forgive rather than seek revenge.

II. Forgiveness Frees us from Obstruction

Forgiving does not mean that we fail to hold people responsible for their actions, especially when legal issues are involved, but rather it means to get it out of our way so we can go on to fulfill all that God has in store for us in our lives. If you do not forgive, you cannot be forgiven, thus an obstruction develops between you and God. You must forgive, in order that God may forgive you and direct your life. God cannot deal with what was done against us until we fully give it to Him.

Don’t misunderstand me. We are not to be like Jonah and sit on the hill waiting for God to strike down people that we feel abused us. No, we must truly give it to Him - only He knows what needs to be done.

I know some things done against us involve legal issues. Certainly you have a right to ask authorities to step in and deal with crimes done against, your family or those you love; however, even then we must not do so with anger. I know this is difficult! Everyone has likely been hurt by deeds or words made against us, but some actions by others are actual crimes and require that legal authorities get involved. But, most hurts we feel are not legal in nature. We need to remember that our sins crucified the Son of God. Instead of judging us, the Lord offered us a chance to repent and come to Him for full forgiveness. We need to act like our Lord. Certainly, if an act against you has legal ramifications, turn it over to legal people and let them handle it. Just don’t go around with a bitter, angry heart, because that obstructs God’s path to forgiving and blessing you.

Forgiving people is not a one-time step in our lives. The memory of the hurt we feel we have suffered we resurface again and again. We will be required to let it go over and over, if we truly learn to forgive. Remember this, when God forgave you of your sin, did you stop sinning? No. Yet, He still forgives. When we forgive someone, the issue will likely arise in our hearts again and again, and the person may disappoint us in other ways later on as well. Any new disappoint in that person will cause the old hurt to reappear in our hearts and minds. Thus, you have to forgive it all over again. You must see forgiveness as a journey. I’m so glad that God forgave me and continues to forgive me. He does not bring up my old sins once they are forgiven. His forgiveness is profound and complete. He desires that I act likewise. This requires me to keep growing in my desire to be holy and more like my Savior. This isn't easy – but when we obey Him in the matter of forgiving others, we remove an obstacle to our growth in the Lord.

Now, let’s see the third reason why we must forgive.

III. Forgiving Frees us from Oppression

Look at Hebrews 12:14-15: “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled…”

“No bitter root
Can bear sweet fruit.”

A bitter root will oppress you and keep you from joy. You will taste it your mouth and heart every day. Your life will be less joyful and less fruitful because you have allowed a root of bitterness to grow up in your heart and mind.

You will be oppressed by anger and bitterness, and what you wish upon your oppressor may merely come back to oppress you. I’ve known people who allowed anger to destroy their lives. You see, people who don’t forgive end up being harmed twice! First, they are hurt by the pain caused from the initial act; but, then they are harmed even more by the oppression that happens inside them for weeks, months, years, or maybe for a lifetime.

The Lord doesn’t ask you to forgive in order to make you a doormat, but rather to help you open the door to peace, joy, and purpose. By forgiving, we become more like our Savior who forgave us.

Here is the big question when we have been hurt by others. How do we get rid of the pain, hurt and anguish we are going through as a result of what has been done to us?

A. Remember

Don’t remember and run it over and over in your mind. Don't make a habit of recalling what the person did against you, but remember what Jesus has done for you. Recall His love for you and that He loves you right now with an eternal love. Remember that He has not forsaken you just because someone else did. Remember the old rugged cross and go back there in your mind to recall His grace extended to you, even when you were a sinner against Him.

B. Remove

Imagine taking a piece of paper and writing down what was done to you. Then, slowly write over that imaginary piece of paper and the hurt you have suffered the following words: Paid In Full.

Why does this matter? It matters because when we are hurt the thought of it keeps coming back in your mind day after day. We have to find a way to keep thoughts of vengeance from dominating our lives. So, each time you remember what was said or done, imagine pulling out that piece of paper and reading: Paid In Full. That means that you don’t need to make that person pay for what they’ve done to you. Imagine putting that paper back in a drawer and dusting off your hands. You don’t have to get payment from them because you forgave the debt. You didn’t do that because they deserved it, but because Jesus taught you to do it and your trust in Him leads you to know that what you are doing is actually best for you.

The devil will bring back to your mind the anger you initially felt when you were hurt, but you can hold that imaginary paper up to him and tell him to get lost. You can remind Satan of the nail-scarred hands of Jesus that forgave you and you can let him know that you are going to act like Jesus rather than acting like the devil. Amen? Yes, Amen!


So, right now, here in this service, if you need to let something go – do it! Do it because the Lord told you to. Do it because He has done that for you. Do it because it is best for you. Do it because people will like you better and feel more comfortable around you. You see, even if you never tell people about your hurt, if you walk around with it on your shoulder, people feel that something is wrong with you. Let it go for God’s sake and your own sake.

Someone here tonight has been hurt badly. Perhaps you were abused as child. Maybe you were deserted by someone you loved and trusted. Perhaps you were cheated by a business partner. It could be that someone tried to ruin your reputation with false words. Give God room to work in your life and in the life of the person who hurt you. I promise you, based on God’s Word, based on the cross of Christ, based on the forgiveness God gave you, you will not regret the act of forgiving!