Willing to Forgive

Text: Luke 17:3-4

Jesus taught His disciples about the need to forgive those who sinned against them. It is not always easy to forgive, especially when others habitually/consistently sin against us. Yet we must be willing to forgive others as the Lord has forgiven us.

What Is Necessary Before We Can Forgive Others

  • They have to sin against us (Matthew 6:14)
  • They have to be aware of their sin (Matthew 18:15)
  • They have to repent of their sin (Luke 17:3)
  • We must be willing to forgive (Luke 17:4; Matthew 18:21-22)

What Does a Willingness to Forgive Look Like?

In the Moment: Do Not Retaliate

  • Jesus taught we must “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:38-39) – cited law regarding punishment; retaliation is not punishment; punishment is about impartial justice, retaliation is about a partial/biased form of vengeance
  • Temptation to react – reacting quickly is not always wrong, but it is easy to sin if we do not stop to think; Jesus did not react in kind when He was crucified (1 Peter 2:21-23); we must be slow to speak and slow to anger (James 1:19); we are to learn patience (Colossians 3:12-13; 2 Timothy 2:24) and exercise self-control when reacting is easy

In the Short Term: Do Not Obsess

  • There is often a tendency to dwell on some wrong that was done against us (Ephesians 4:26) – natural to be angry when someone sins against us, but we are not to sin or hold onto our anger (allow the wrong committed against us to consume our thoughts)
  • Temptation to respond – there is a proper way to respond (cf. Matthew 18:15) and an improper way; by obsessing, we “give the devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:27); we are not to take our own vengeance (Romans 12:17-20); we are to fill our minds with what is good (Philippians 4:8), so we cannot obsess over some wrong

In the Long Term: Do Not Hold a Grudge

  • Grudge not…” (James 5:9, KJV) or “do not complain” (NASB) – some people complain without thinking, but this is more than that; the word indicates a sigh, grief, or complaint from the heart (cf. Romans 8:23)
  • Temptation to remember – nothing wrong with not allowing others to take advantage of us again, but this is more that that; Paul did not hold a grudge against those who did not support him (2 Timothy 4:16); Jesus did not hold a grudge against Paul for persecuting Him (Acts 9:4, 15; 1 Timothy 1:12-16); we are to remember what really matters (Matthew 6:33-34) and not let the past hinder us (Philippians 3:13)


  • The Lord is willing to forgive us, no matter what we have done – we must have that same willingness to forgive others
  • While the Lord is willing to forgive us, we must take advantage of His offer of forgiveness – this is done through faithful obedience to His instructions

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