Principle 6: Promised Mercy – Showing mercy through forgiving others removes anger and bitterness.
(Ephesians 4:31, 32)
Basic Principle by Questions
- What would you think about a person who had just won the lottery and had millions of dollars, if that person then went out and beat up a friend who owed him $100?
- Does that seem foolish for a man who has millions to violently force a man to pay a mere $100 debt? Why or why not?
- How many pages of 8.5 x 11 paper would it take using font size of 12 to write the stories of all the wrongs you have ever done in your whole life and to keep that record going until you died? OK, don’t answer this one.
- What happens to the sins for which we have been forgiven? What punishment will we have to pay eternally? What impact might that sin have on our lives while on this earth?
- Since our sins have been forgiven by faith in a faithful and powerful Savior Jesus Christ, what do you think should be done about the harm others have done to us by their sins or unwise actions? How should we treat those who have caused us harm or loss?
- Since forgiveness means to “erase the list of offenses held against someone” or to “release the debt that is owed”, what could you do to illustrate or demonstrate that you have forgiven another person?
- Remember that ream of paper you discussed earlier containing all the stories of what you have done wrong? What could you imagine Jesus does with that stack?
- Think of the hurt others have caused you and the pages it would take to describe that story of pain and disappointment or regret. Think of the emotions described on those pages as you remember their actions. Now, would you invite Jesus to come alongside you in your heart and enter the painful story with you? How does He feel about the hurt?
- Would you ask Him to carry that story into the place where He took your sin and agree with Him to leave your story of pain in the same place? Would you consider releasing those who hurt you and asking Christ to give you the power to forgive and even to one day love and bless those who hurt you?
- In what ways does this scenario remind you of what Jesus did for you?
- How would you feel if you no longer held bitterness, hurt, or anger toward those who damaged your life or took something from you?
- Since God is the one who takes care of vengeance and justice, how have those who hurt you experienced their own painful consequences in life or have they? Will they receive punishment for the wrongs they have done?
- Perhaps the most difficult obstacle to showing mercy is forgiving from the heart those who “owe” us. (Ephesians 4: 31, 32)
- We are empowered to give mercy/forgiveness because mercy and forgiveness have been given to us from Christ. (Ephesians 4: 31, 32)
- Prison of Anger & Bitterness: Harboring unforgiveness exacts a high price of the one who does not forgive, keeping him in a prison of anger. (Ephesians 4: 26, 27)
- Damage to our hearts that has been mourned and comforted provides the basis for forgiving from the heart. (Matthew 5:7)
- Forgiving others does not mean the offender escapes responsibility for the wrong done and the damage suffered. Scripture says “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).
- The forgiven offender no longer has emotional control over the offended party. Now love can flow freely again from the heart of the offended person as evidence of the power of Christ’s forgiveness.
- Few life events display Christ-likeness more vividly than forgiving others from the heart. (Matthew 18:34, 35)