1 Corinthians 9 Lesson

Forgiveness

FORGIVENESS

Did you know that forgiving somebody can improve your health?  According to John Hopkins Medicine:

“Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression, and stress.” (source: hopkinsmedicine.org)

More importantly, forgiveness is something that we are commanded to do in the Bible and an important part of being a Christian.  The world may hold grudges, but Christians do not.  

BIBLE VERSES ABOUT FORGIVENESS

When Peter asked Jesus, “How often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Jesus responded:

  • I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” - Mathew 18:22.

Other Bible verses about forgiveness include:

  • “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” -Ephesians 4:32,
  • “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” -Mark 11:25,
  • “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” -Mathew 6:14-15,
  • “Pardon (forgive), and you will be pardoned (forgiven).” - Luke 6:37.

JUSTICE VS. MERCY

The subjects of mercy and forgiveness are closely related.  Too many times, we want justice when it comes to others and mercy for ourselves. 

The Bible teaches us that in order to receive mercy, we must show mercy to others.  

  • “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” – James 2:13.

Shortly after choosing His twelve Apostles, Jesus spoke in front of a large gathering of His disciples.  He said to the crowd:

  • “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” – Luke 6:36

COMPASSION NOT JUDGMENT

At the beginning of today’s lesson, we listed some of the health benefits that have been associated with forgiveness, including:

  • Lowering the risk of heart attack,
  • Improving cholesterol levels,
  • Improved sleep,
  • Reducing pain, 
  • Lowering blood pressure,
  • Reducing anxiety,
  • Reducing depression,
  • Reducing stress. 

That is the amazing thing about forgiveness.  When we practice forgiveness, we not only find favor with God, our health improves! 

If we want to become more forgiving, we need to work at showing others compassion, not judgment.   Everyone is suffering from something.  Perhaps if we stopped to think about that more often, we would do a better job of showing compassion to one another. 

THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS

The Bible says that all of us are sinners:

  • “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23

None of us are perfect.  Despite our best intentions, we often find ourselves failing to keep God's commandments the way that we would like to.  

The same thing cannot be said about Jesus.  Jesus was perfect!  He was blameless and without sin. (1 John 3:5, 1 Peter 2:22, Hebrews 4:15).  And despite this, He was hunted down, beaten, ridiculed, and crucified. 

If anyone had reason to be angry and merciless it was Jesus.  And yet, our Savior uttered the following words moments before His death:

  • “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34.

If Jesus can forgive the people that had him nailed to a cross and crucified, how much more should we be able to forgive the people in our lives that have offended us in far less serious ways? 

CONCLUSION

Practicing forgiveness benefits us in many ways.  Forgiving others can improve our health, restore relationships, and most importantly keep us in good standing with God.  Throughout the Bible, we read about how the importance of forgiveness in the lives of a Christian. 

If we want to receive God’s mercy on Judgment Day, we need to show mercy to others. 

  • “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” – James 2:13.

The Bible is full of examples of forgiveness, none more powerful than the forgiveness that Jesus showed on the cross at Calvary when he said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34.

We will end today’s lesson with what is commonly referred to as, “The Lord’s Prayer.”  In it, Jesus teaches us how we should pray and stresses the importance of forgiveness:

  • “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come.  Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]  For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” – Mathew 6:9-15.

Comments

Pat Dermody

In this chapter Paul shares with us how difficult it is to be the one spreading the Good News. Paul wanted to preach but to do so he had to keep in mind everlasting things. . He gave up the right to receive money and food for his teaching, although others did.. He wanted to be free of obligations to others. As he delivered his message , he realized how important it was to “ know his audience” so the preaching would be more meaningful to them. As he preached he had to keep making sure that his own life was on track and not lose sight of the eternal prize. Paul had to make sure that he “practiced what he was preaching. ! All of this required a great deal of self discipline and work.

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