Foundations: Forgiven and Forgiving

By William M. Cwirla
Our Father in heaven, Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

"I’ll never forgive him! Ever! There's no way in the world I can forgive her for that! Forgive? You've got to be joking! When they're good and sorry, I'll forgive. Maybe."

We've all said words to that effect at one time or another. We're hurt. Someone has wronged us, harmed us, caused us to suffer. We feel justified in our anger. We want to get even, carve out our "pound of flesh." Forgiveness is the furthest thing on our minds. Withholding forgiveness gives us power to control. "Remember what you did to me?"

Jesus would have us pray for forgiveness in this way: "Father, forgive us our sins against you in the very same way that we forgive those who sin against us." In other words, we dare not ask for more forgiveness than we are willing to give out to others. How dare we ask our Father in heaven to forgive us when we are unwilling to do the same to our fellow sinners?

How Does Forgiveness Work?

Jesus told a parable about forgiveness and how it works (Matthew 18:23-35). A servant owed his king millions of dollars--more than he could ever repay in a thousand lifetimes of work. The king, in an act of undeserved kindness, forgave the servant's debt. He wiped it off the books. He literally dropped dead to the whole debt. That same servant then went straight from the king to track down a fellow servant who owed him a hundred bucks--loose change when compared to what he had just been forgiven. He demanded payment in full, and when his fellow servant pleaded for mercy with the very same words the first servant used before the king, he showed no mercy at all, but had him thrown into prison. Needless to say, when the king got word of it, he was outraged and had the forgiven but unforgiving servant thrown into debtor's prison. "So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."

Gulp!

Do you get the impression that Jesus takes forgiveness seriously? You bet He does! He hung on a cross to earn the complete forgiveness of sins for the whole world. He knows the cost. It cost Him His own life--His blood shed on the Cross. So when we refuse to forgive another, it's as though we are saying, "Jesus didn't die for your sins, so I don't have to forgive you either."

The Business of Forgiveness

First of all, forgiveness is not a feeling. It's an act of the will. That's why Jesus says we must forgive our brother (and sister) "from the heart." The heart is the seat of the will, not feelings. Remember this. Forgiveness is about our will to act or not act. We don't have to like someone to forgive them. We simply have to will to let go of what happened and not act in retaliation.

Second, learn what "forgiveness" means. The Greek word "aphete" (forgiveness) means to let go, to leave something be as it is, to act as though it had not happened. To forgive is not to forget. If we forget, then there's no reason to forgive. But if we remember the wrong and still act as though it did not happen, that's forgiveness.  God "remembers our sins no more," not in the sense that He develops a case of divine amnesia, but that He chooses for Jesus' sake not to act toward us as our sins deserve. We are like that servant who owed his king millions of dollars and which he could not repay. But Jesus paid our debt with His perfect life under the Law and His spotless death as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And the verdict of Jesus' death was pronounced over you at your Baptism. You, a sinful child of Adam, are forgiven. Free. Your debt is paid in full.

So Now What Do You Do?

You forgive. Forgiveness begins with Jesus, and it flows from Jesus to you and from you to those around you. And don't worry about running out; there's plenty more where that came from! It's like a spring that never dries up and flows as far as Jesus' death and the stream that flowed from His side.

In the Large Catechism on this petition, Martin Luther said that when we forgive others, it's like an absolution ringing into our own ears. We are hearing Jesus' forgiveness to us spilling over to those around us. When you say, "I forgive you," to someone who has sinned against you, it's an echo of Jesus' "I forgive you" in your own ears. You, forgiven child of God, are a pipeline of forgiveness, forgiving as you have been forgiven.

Rev. William M. Cwirla is the pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Hacienda Heights, CA. He is also a president emeritus of Higher Things.
This article was originally published in the summer 2011 issue of Higher Things Magazine.
Posted in
Tagged with , ,

Recent

Archive

 2021
 January
Reflections: January 1, 2021This Just In: The Ultimate ResolutionReflections: January 2, 2021Reflections: January 3, 2021Reflections: January 4, 2021Video Short: January 5, 2021Video Short: January 4, 2021Reflections: January 5, 2021Reflections: January 6, 2021Video Short: January 6, 2021Under the Cross: Don't Look at the ListReflections: January 7, 2021Video Short: January 7, 2021Video Short: January 8, 2021Reflections: January 8, 2021Dean's List: The Catechism Really Is for YouReflections: January 9, 2021Reflections: January 10, 2021Reflections: January 11, 2021Video Short: January 11, 2021Helpful Things: Fundraising Essentials FOR YOUReflections: January 13, 2021Video Short: January 12, 2021Reflections: January 12, 2021Video Short: January 13, 2021Reflections: January 14, 2021Video Short: January 14, 2021Under the Cross: You Don't Belong to This WorldReflections: January 15, 2021Video Short: January 15, 2021Reflections: January 16, 2021Reflections: January 17, 2021Reflections: January 18, 2021Video Short: January 18, 2021This Just In: Martin Luther King, Jr.--The Man Who Had a DreamReflections: January 19, 2021Video Short: January 19, 2021Dead Christians You Should Know About: Saint SebastianReflections: January 20, 2021Video Short: January 20, 2021Video Short: January 21, 2021Reflections: January 21, 2021Reflections: January 22, 2021Reflections: January 23, 2021Video Short: January 22, 2021Dean's List: Jesus Hits the Spot!Reflections: January 24, 2021Reflections: January 25, 2021Reflections: January 26, 2021Video Short: The Conversion of St. PaulHelpful Things: Effective Fundraising Through Midweek MealsVideo Short: Suffering Doesn't Mean God Doesn't Love YouReflections: January 27, 2021Video Short: Woke Wednesday: Karma, Karma, KarmaVideo Short: Abortion and the Church's WorkReflections: January 28, 2021Reflections: January 29, 2021Video Short: What Goes On In Your Pastor's Mind About Closed CommunionFoundations: You Need Your Pastor More Than EverReflections: January 30, 2021Reflections: January 31, 2021

Categories

Tags

1 Cor 11 1 John 10 Commandments 10th Commandment 1525 1Tim 2 1st Commandment 2 Tables of the Law 2000 2002 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021AD 20th birthday 2nd Adam Jesus 2nd Commandment 3rd Article 3rd commandment 3rd day of wedding 40 days 4th commandment 5th Commandment 8th Commandment 9/11 95 Thesis 9th commandment Aaronic Blessing Abraham Absolution Acts 1 Acts 9 Acts Adam Adiaphora Advent Age of Accountability Albrecht Peters All Hallows Eve Alpha and Omega Ambrose Amen-I beleve Amen American Andrew Anointed One Apocrypha Apology Apostles Creed Apostles' Creed Apostles\' Creed Apostles\\\' Creed Areopagus Armor Ascension Day Athens Augsburg Augustian monk Augustine Babylonians Bach Baker Bamsch Barabbas Beatitudes Beginning and End Benediction Benedictus Best Friend Jesus Bethany Bethel Bethesda Bethlehem Bible study Boaz Bondage of the Will Book of Life Book of Mormon Book of Prayer Bread of Life Buddha C.S. Lewis CDC COVID-19 COVID Caesar Calling Calvary Canaanite woman Canaan Capernaum Castillero Catholic Cath Changed form Chestfeeding Chief Sheperd Chief Shepherd Christ Jesus Christ crucified Christ death Christ fills repentance Christ fulfilled Christ raised Christ righteousness Christ the King Christ's precious blood Christ's works Christ\'s precious blood Christ\'s works Christ\\\'s precious blood Christ\\\'s works Christ\\\\\\\'s precious blood Christian Baptism Christian Church Christian Science Christological Christology Church Communion Compline Concordia Constantine Coram Deo Corinthians Corinth Corrow Creator God Creator Creeds Cross of Christ Cross of Jesus Cyrus DCYSKNA DNA Daniel Dan Dare to be Lutheran Date to Be Lutheran David's decendant David\'s decendant David\\\'s decendant David Dawkins Deborah Deliverer Deuteronomy Diet of Worms Divergent Divine Service Dorothy Sayers Dr Seuss Drosendahl Dying to Live Earth Day Eastern Sages/Gentiles Ecclesiastes Eden Ehrhard Eighth Commandment Elijah Elisha Elvis Emmanuel Enlightenment Ephesians 2 Ephesians 3 Ephesians 4 Ephesians Ephrath Epiphany=Gentile Christmas Esau Espinosa Eternal Son Eucharist Evening Prayer Eve Eyes on Jesus Ezekiel Ezkiel Father Fenker Fibbing Fifth Commandment First Article First Commandment Fisk Flood Following the Star Formula of Concord Fourth Commandment Fourth Petition France Frederick Friedich Wyneken Friend of Sinners From Above Ft Wayne seminary Gabriel Garden Gen Z Genesis 22 Genesis Georgia Germany German Gideon Gifts of God Given God Helps God above all God forgives sin God hears/answers God hides himself God of Order God of grace God of mercy God on the cross God saves losers God saves God the Father God who saves God works good from evil God-man God's Church God's I will God's Law God's Word God's authority God's faithful God's greatness God's justice God's kingdon God's love God's name God's nos create trust God's plan God's sight God's will God's wisdom God's work God\'s Church God\'s I will God\'s Law God\'s Word God\'s authority God\'s faithful God\'s greatness God\'s justice God\'s kingdon God\'s name God\'s plan God\'s sight God\'s will God\'s wisdom God\'s work God\\\'s I will God\\\'s Law God\\\'s Word God\\\'s justice God\\\'s kingdon God\\\'s name God\\\'s plan God\\\'s sight God\\\'s wisdom God\\\'s work God\\\\\\\'s Law God\\\\\\\'s Word God\\\\\\\'s kingdon God\\\\\\\'s name God\\\\\\\'s wisdom God\\\\\\\'s work God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Word God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s wisdom God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s work God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s work Gods grace God Gof's glory Gof\'s glory Gof\\\'s glory Gof\\\\\\\'s glory Golgotha Goliath Good Friday Good Newa Good News Good Sheperd Good vs evil Goodman Goodness of the Lord Gospel = forgiveness Gospel requires hearing Grace Great Reversal Greeks Greek Hagar Halloween Han Solo Happy Lent Haughty Heavenly Father Hebrews Hebrew Here I Stand Hiding Place Hill His Name Hogwarts Hokana Holly Innocents Holocaust Holy Baptism Holy Communion Holy Land Holy Sacrement Holy Saturday Holy Week Holy name Hosanna Hull I am Immanuel Independence Indulgences Invocation Isaac Isaiah 55 Isaiah 66 Isaiah Islam Jacoby Jacob Jeremiah Jesus juatifies the ungodly Jesus Christ Jesus body Jesus calls Jesus died Jesus fixed sin Jesus forgives Jesus is Lord Jesus is Truth Jesus is Yaweh Jesus is future Jesus is present Jesus is the suwwer Jesus is true God Jesus is true man Jesus is with us Jesus lived Jesus ministry Jesus on the Cross Jesus os past Jesus pays debt Jesus peace Jesus reveals God Jesus rose Jesus saves Jesus shines like the sun Jesus suffering Jesus the Crucified Jesus the Sent One Jesus took God's anger Jesus took God\'s anger Jesus took God\\\'s anger Jesus took all sins Jesus travels to sinners Jesus washing feet Jesus-access tot he Father Jesus" compassion Jesus" peace Jesus" salvation Jesus' baptism Jesus' love Jesus' will Jesus\" compassion Jesus\" peace Jesus\" salvation Jesus\' baptism Jesus\\\" peace Jesus\\\\\\\" peace Jews and gentiles Joanna John 12 John 6 John the Baptist Johnson John Jonah Joseph Smith Josephus Joseph Joshua Joy/suffering Jubilate Judah Judgment Day Judica Sunday Karma=get what you give Keith Kenobi Kieselowsky King Josiah King Solomon King of Kings Kingdom of God Klages Kosche LGBTQ Laban Lamb of God Lamb Lamentations Lamg of God Last Day Law requires doing Law shows sin Lazarus Leah Lent Levi Life or death Lincoln Lor'd's Day Lor\'d\'s Day Lor\\\'d\\\'s Day Lor\\\\\\\'d\\\\\\\'s Day Lor\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'d\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Day Lord's Prayer Lord's Supper Lord's Word Lord\'s Prayer Lord\'s Supper Lord\'s Word Lord\\\'s Prayer Lord\\\'s Supper Lords's Prayer Lords\'s Prayer Lords\\\'s Prayer Lord Loss Luke 11 Luke 17 Luke 18 Luke 1 Luther Lydia Maggie Karner Magnificat Maiwald Making Waves Margery Kempe Mark 7 Mark 8 Marr 3 Martha Martin Luther Mary Mass Master Matt 13 Matt 20 Matt 3 Matt 6 Matthew 2 Matthew 8 Matthew 9 Matthew Matthias replaces Judas Matthias Maundy Thursday McCrorey McKenna Melanchthon Memorial Day Messiah Micah 7 Micah Middle East Monica Mormonism Mormon Mother of God Mt Zion Muhammad Muhlenberg Muslims Myers Nagel Name of the Lord Narnia Nazareth Nehemiah New Man New Testament New Year Nicene Nicodemus Nunes Oded Office of Ministry Old Man Old Testament One Baptism One Faith One Lord One tru God Ostapowich Palmarum Paradise Passion time Passover Paul/greatest apostle Pauls Peperkorn Person of Jesus Peter's confession Peter\'s confession Pharaoh Pharisees Pharoah Philip Philistines Phillip and James Phillip Phoebe Pierson Pilate Polycarp Pontius Pilate Populus Zion Potiphar Pray ye Preus Proverbs 31 Proverbs Psalm 13 Psalm 25 Psalm 43 Psalm 51 Psalm 70 Psalm 86 Rachel Rahab Rebekah Redeemer Reuben Revelation Riley Risen Lord Rogate Roman persecution Romans 1 Romans 3 Romans 4 Romans 5 Romans Rosebrough Ruth Sabbath Sacrement of the Altar Salome Sanchez Sanctus Sarah Saul/greatest preseutor Savior of all Savior Schools shouln't lead prayer Schuldheisz Scriptures Sebastian Second Article Seed Septuagesima Sermon on the Mount Shakespeare Simeon Simon Sin-Bearer Singing Sinner team becomes Jesus' team Sinner team becomes Jesus\' team Sixth Commandment Sletten Smalcald Sodom Son of David Son of God Son of Josiah Son of Mam Son of Man Son of the Living God Sons of God Son Sower Spirit of God Spoken Gospel St Patrick St. Joseph St. Matthias St. Paul St.Bartholomew Stand firm Staupitz Supper Table of Duties Te Deum Ten Commandments Thanks The Feast The Son of God Theology of the Cross Theotokos Third Article Timothy Titus Tolkien Transfiguation Transfiquration Tree of Cross Tree of Knowledge Tree of Life Twelve UFO Valentine Vieker Visitation Weedon Winter Wittenberg Woelmer Word and Sacraments Word and Sacrement Word of Christ Word of God Word of the Lord Words of blessing Word Yaweh Zachariah Zacharias Zwingli "Not" "you are god" \"you are god\" \\\"you are god\\\" abortion is evil abortion abram absolute absolve abuse academic acceptable sacrifice active ad te levavi addiction adultery adults advice affirmation agape agnostic alcoholic aliens all have sinned all powerful almighty altar guild altar always anabaptists anarchy angel anger animal anna anouthen answering prayers answer anti-christian antinomian antioch antiphonal antithetical to Christianity anxiety apocalypse apologetic apostle appearances appearance archaeology archangels ark armed forces artist ascension assembly of believers assurance in His Word athanasian atheism atheist atonement augustana authority awake babylon baby backsliding baggage banquet baptismal grace baptism baptized baptizing barnabas barren bartholomew beginning being made holy belief believes believing is recieving benjamin best construction betray between you bible bigot birth of Jesus birthright blessings blessing blind blood boast body and blood body bonhoeffer borghardt born again bound will brandt bread breakup bride of Christ bridegroom bride brother buetow burial cain calendar campus life cancel culture cancelling the past cancer candle casket catechesis catechism catechize celebration centurion ceremonial washing chant character of God chastity chatity child abuse children of promise children choir chosen christianity christmas christ church attendance church planting circumcision clean clergy clerical cling coin college colossians combat comfort commandment command community compassion concupiscence condemn conferences confession of Trinity confession of fITH confessions confession confess confirmation connection conscience conspiracy theory context contrition conversion cookie cornerstone corrupting sin council counselor covenant coveting covet created for man creates faith creation creative love creed critical theory cross crown crucifiction crucified crucifix cry culture shock culture cupid curb/guide/rule curb/mirror/guide curb current events curse cwirla daily bread danger darkness dating de-platform deadly sin dead deaf dean death debt cancelled debt decrease defeat deliverance delivered demon depression descriptive vs prescriptive destroy devil disappointment disaster disciples discipline dishonesty dispair disposition of delight disruption diversity divorce doctrine dogma domestic violence donations donkey door doubts doubt doxology dream drew driven by the Spirit drugs earthquake easter ecclesiastical egypt election elizabeth embarrassment emotions empty tomb encourager encourgement endure enemy engineering enlightened enlivening entertainment envy epiphany epistle equality equal equity escped forced idolitry estates eternal life for us eternal life evangelism evangelist evil evolution exalted examine example excuses exercise love exhalted exhortation exiles exile extra nos extra-biblical eyewitness failure faith alone faith in Jesus faithful faith fall false gods false preachers false teachers false worship family famine fasting fate father sacrifices son father's house father\'s house father\\\'s house father\\\\\\\'s house fear feast feelings fellowship of believers female feminism fiery serpent filial fear fire firstfruits flesh flowers follow Christ follow font foolish for you forerunner foretaste forgiven in Christ forgiveness forgiven forgive fornication forsaken fortress fraud free gift free will freedom frees us freshman friendship from scripture fruits of faith fruit fulfilles fulfillment in Christ fulfillment full pardon funeral fun future games gaudete gay gender inclusive gender geneology generations generosity genetics genetic genocide gentiles gerhardt gift of community gift of justification gift of the Spiirit gifts of salvation gifts gift girlfriend give thanks given not earned glory of God glory gnosticism goats godliness godly families godly husband golden rule golf good gifts good samaritan good works good work good gospel gossiping government grace repents us gracious gratitude great commission grief groom guarded tomb guardian guard guest guide guilt by association guilt habitual sins hannah happiness harm to win hatred have mercy healing hearing/listening heart hear heaven heinz heirs hell heresy herod high priest high school history holiday holiness holy spirit holy trinity holy homosexuality honor parents honor hope against hope hopelessness hope hostility house of israel humbled humble humblw glory humility hurt husband hymnal hymn hypocrisy hypocrites iPad identity idol worship idolatry idol image imitate impossible improved imputed in Christ in Jesus incarnation inconsistant standards increase inheritance instigating faith institution internet interpretation introit invitation isolation israel issues james jerome jerusalem jesus jewish job joyful joy judas jude judge Jesus judge me judgement judge justice justification justify justin martyr kantor karma keep keseman keys kill kind kingdom king knowledge kohlmeier kuhlman lange language large catechism latin laugh law leaven lectionary legacy lemon lepers lept lex credendi lex orendi life vs death life-changing life lightning light lion listen liturgical liturgy live doubt live living bread living water lonely lords prayer lords supper lost sheep lost love your neighbor love-Christ on cross love lowly lust lutheran madden magicians magic magisterial magnify magruder manger manifestation manipulative manna marked as redeemed marriage martyrs martyr mary magdalene mary/faith masks meals means of grace means measures measure mediator mental health merciful mercy and grace mercy message of peace metanoia metaphor microagression mietzner millennium miracles miracle missionary misuse modernism money moses mountains movement murder musician mutual consolation my Savior myth name narrow door nation nature nebuchadnezzar need Jesus negative neighbor net of sin new command new creation new in Christ new life newborns news noah not a spell not blesses not condemned obedience obey offering old Adam on our knees on the knees onesimus orders ordinary ordination organ orgiven original sin orthodox our neighbors body overseer pagan pandemic papacy parable of sower parable paraments pardoned saint parents represent God parents teach religion parents party passive pastoral care pastors pastor patience patriarch paul payed the debt payment peace peers pentecost people perfume perpetual forgiveness persecution person peter pharasies' bribes pharisee philemon philosophy physical touch place or vacation plagues plan plenary pope porn possible post-Christian postmodern poverty praise praising God pray for leaders prayers prayer praying pray pre-Lent=prepare pre-emptive restraint preaching preach prepare for Calvary pride priesthood proclaim prodigal promises promise prophecy prophet prostitution protection psalms psalm punish purchased and won purity quarantine quest for truth racism raised from death raised ram ransom rape rapture real presence reality reason rebel reconcile reconciliation redeemed sinners redemption reflection reformation refuge regenerated rejoice rejouce relationship with God relationship with others relationship relativism religion religious remember loving kindness renewal of faith repent now repentance repent resolutions rest in Jesus restoration rest resurrection rethink reverence with joy richard rich righteousness riots risen road to Damascus rock rorate coeli rules rule sacraments sacrament sacrement delivers Calvary sacrements sacrifice of presentation sacrifice safety saints saint salvation samaritan sanctification sanctified satan satis est saul saved by grace saved save scapegoat scholarship school science scripture seek God's salvation seek God\'s salvation seek God\\\'s salvation segregation self-centered self-esteem self-justify self-worth selfish human desire selfishness seraphim sermon servant serve ou neighbor served without fanfare service project servile fear serving others set apart sexual sex shabbat shaltanis shame shepherd shield showed glory sick signs silas simul sinners sinner sins sin skeptic slavery small catechism social media shunning sojouner sola fide sola gratia sola soldiers soloists sophia sorrow sorry enough soul soup supper speak of Christ speeding spiritual drink spiritual gifts spiritual spirit spring break star state steadfast love steal stephen stewardship steward stottlemyer strength stress strong students subjective subsitute lamb suffer for...my name suffer/die/rise again suffering suicide is forgiven suicide support single mothers sustains faith swear symbol symphony synagogue tabernacle tax collectors tax collector teaching teach technology teenager temple temptation tempted tenderness tertullian tetelestai the 72 the Christ the Church the Cross the Lamb the Word theology things of God thomas throne through faith tomb tongues trinity triune God triune trust in God trust truth turrn away unbelief unbelieving loved ones undeserved favor unforgiveable unity universal changing event universalism universe university unrighteousness unwoke use rightly veil vestments victim victoory victory video virgin virtue vocation voice war washed watermarked water weakness weak wealth wedding feast wedding garment wedding weeping wept widow will of God wine for wedding wisdom wise witness woke=aware of social justice wokeism=American civil religion woke works world's religion is transactional world worship of money worship wrath yahweh youth ministry youth zechariah zion zombie