Episode 220: Hope for the Journey – Forgiveness

March 8, 2022

A Reminder from Scripture

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 (MSG)

Forgive others as Christ has forgiven you. (Eph 4:32)


We have all experienced anger, bitterness, and perhaps even vengeance. Forgiveness brings peace, hope, gratitude, and joy. Sometimes these feelings come from situations where we were done wrong or have wronged someone and have desired forgiveness.

Whether it is a constant critic in your life, a colleague sabotaging projects, or trauma you’ve experienced, forgiveness is a part of our walk with Christ.

In this episode, Tim and Sara explore how forgiveness releases its hold on you and helps free you from the control of the person who hurt you. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy, and compassion for the one who hurt you.

We’ll look at Luke 15 and Matthew 18:15-22 to explore the meaning and practice of forgiveness. And, yes, we’ll even touch on the often spoken phrase “forgive and forget.”

Mentioned in this Episode

Episode 220: Hope Through Forgiveness


[00:00:00] Sara: You're listening to Leadercast episode 220.

[00:00:06] you're listening to leader cast, transforming missions podcast with Tim bias and Sarah Thomas. Providing you with resources to navigate the challenges and opportunities of courageous christ centered leaders

[00:00:20] Tim: This month as we continue our focus on hope throughout the year, we want to explore hope to the themes of lint. Last episode, episode two 19, we explored hope through repentance and this episode, we want to explore hope through forgiveness.

[00:00:40] Sara: And so let me remind you that you can find show notes for this episode@transformingmission.org forward slash two to zero. And on that page, you'll find links and resources for this episode, as well as a link to hope throughout.

[00:00:59] Tim: Oh, Sarah. We've all been in situations where we were done wrong or have wrong someone. And if desired forgiveness. And perhaps it's been a parent constantly criticizing you growing up,

[00:01:15] Sara: Or maybe a colleague sabotaging a project or a partner having enough.

[00:01:21] Tim: or maybe you've had a traumatic experience such as being physically or emotionally abused by someone close to.

[00:01:28] Sara: And any of those experiences and many more can leave wounds and leave you with feelings of anger, bitterness, even vengeance, but forgiveness brings peace. It brings hope. It brings gratitude and it brings joy.

[00:01:45] Tim: Forgiveness provides the opportunity to live at peace within yourself, as well as the people around you.

[00:01:54] Sara: There are times when someone is asking you.

[00:01:56] for forgiveness and you have to look deep within yourself to offer it no strings attached. And it's hard, whether you are giving or receiving forgiveness. Forgiveness is a powerful act.

[00:02:10] Tim: So here's the point to forgive is to show love. Love's the most important thing we can give to our colleagues. Friends family, even our neighbors and strangers loving others is what God wants you and me to do because it's our relationship with others. That's important. So, Sarah, what is forgiveness?

[00:02:42] Sara: Well, here's the disclaimer, forgiveness?

[00:02:44] means different things to different people, but generally it's a conscious deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance towards a person or a group of people who have harmed you. The act that hurt or offended, you might always be with you, but forgiveness can release its hold on you and help you free, free yourself from the control of the person who hurt you.

[00:03:07] Forgiveness could even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy, and compassion for the one who hurts.

[00:03:14] Tim: So Sarah does forgiveness mean forgetting or excusing the harm done to you or making up with the person who caused you harm?

[00:03:24] Sara: Let me answer that clearly. No forgiving does not mean you can don't the actions or excuse the offense, nor does it depend on whether someone actually deserves to be forgiven.

[00:03:36] Tim: Oh, that sounds like grace to me.

[00:03:39] Sara: I would expect you to bring grace into it. Tim bias in his grace, God's love and human action. And it's not only grace extended to the person who has hurt you, but it's also grace towards yourself. Forgiveness brings you the peace that allows you to continue to grow in your relationship with.

[00:03:59] Tim: So, is it fair to say that, one great asset of being a hope field leader is forgiveness.

[00:04:06] Sara: I'll answer that one clearly too. Yes. Would you like me to say more? And there are several dimensions to forgiveness in the scripture. Each dimension brings a different perspective of.

[00:04:19] One of the dimensions of forgiveness is God's action on our behalf. So think about the parable of the prodigal son. The father provides for his son allows him to live the life that he's chooses, waits for him to return and welcomes him home unconditionally. In fact, the father is so happy when his son returns.

[00:04:40] He has a great celebration. This is an act of grace seen and forgive.

[00:04:46] Tim: Yeah. And that story, the only person upset is the, the older son or the older brother who has difficulty extending the forgiveness. The father, has been very generous. He offered generosity to both sides. But in the story, only one showed a change in behavior. So from this story, we can see two views of forgiveness.

[00:05:11] The first is related to the idea of debt. Jesus stress, the importance of forgiveness within a culture that stressed, very legalistic ideas. Forgiveness from this perspective, as a matter of balancing the books of making sure that a debt is paid or count canceled. So when I think about it, I may ask you to think about it this way.

[00:05:38] You take out a loan, the way the loans forgiven is to pay back the money you borrowed along with some interest. If you miss a payment, Further debts incurred and it becomes increasingly difficult to pay off the original amount. So once you pay off the debt, it's considered forgiven. If we look at our relationships from this perspective, we see forgiveness as a debt transaction, someone does something that hurts you, whether it's mentally, physically, socially, spiritually, and you consider that a form of a debt.

[00:06:17] You start to make decisions about your interactions with that person based upon the debt. You begin to treat them differently based upon the unforgiven debt.

[00:06:29] So what I find interesting from this perspective is you expect people to pay for hurting you. They must apologize to make up for hurting you and many times. They don't even know that they've done something to offend you or hurt you. So the reality is you increase the stress and anxiety within yourself while the other person may not experiencing stress or anxiety or separation of all.

[00:06:56] So the lack of forgiveness is about trying to maintain some power in a situation while protecting your identity. But too often, it's the opposite effect. Unforgiveness leads to bitterness and you live outside of who God created you to be. I'm saying this is the attitude of the older brother, the older son.

[00:07:22] He doesn't want to be in relationship with his brother or his father.

[00:07:27] Sara: Okay. You've just given us a lot there, Tim, in terms of, and I know you've, you've walked through a very familiar passage of scripture reminding us how God's grace is really at work in that. And then the perspective that the different siblings have taken in each one of these,

[00:07:49] Tim: well, Sarah, I think sometimes that's the way we look at forgiveness is that, , I will extend forgiveness once you pay me an apology, or once you have said you've done something wrong. And so there's a debt that, that that's been paid because of the apology. But in the story, there is another form of forgiveness.

[00:08:13] And you've already raised that it's related to grace.

[00:08:20] Sara: So yes, another view of forgiveness is what we do on behalf of others. And it's related to grace. Forgiveness is about restoring the pathways of communication and love. God has designed us to be something better, something glorious, beautiful, and free.

[00:08:35] We created the debt in our minds. We can write off the debt and let go of the shackles that tie us to our reasons. Additionally God's design is to move us beyond looking at our relationship in terms of debt transaction. God wants us to see each other in terms of grace in terms of being gifts to each other.

[00:08:55] So look for a minute at Matthew 18, 15 through 22, as an example, in verses 15 through 20 Jesus lays out a conflict resolution process that seeks a state of forgiveness between the parties involved. The ideal result of this solution is the meeting of two or more people seeking a state of forgiveness.

[00:09:18] Tim: Sarah, the thought just came to me. Could Jesus have been referring to a moment of forgiveness when he said when two or three? Gathering my name there. I am also.

[00:09:31] Sara: What a beautiful moment when people can share, not only with each other, but with God, where else can we specifically do something and know that God joins us in that moment? Seen in that light forgiveness is separate.

[00:09:47] Tim: Now there's another way to look at this grace piece and that Simon, Peter here's Jesus, and, give this instruction. But his legalistic side kicks in and you can see in verse 21, he asked how many times he has to forgive someone before he can write them off. And he says seven times. The number seven, as most of us know, represents a completion in the Bible.

[00:10:15] The number seven is complete. So Peter wanted to know at what point he could completely be done with someone. They constantly seemed to need forgiveness. Now, too often, when we are in these situations, we write people off and avoid them as a matter of trying to preserve our own inner peace. Jesus knows that these issues arise.

[00:10:43] So his instructions don't let us off the hook so easily. He tells Peter in verse 22, that he must forgive 70 times seven. Now that sounds like a high number. If I do the math, right. It comes out to be 490 times, but it's still a number. We can go up to 490 times or forgiving and then forever bar a person from our life because Jesus said that's true or that's right.

[00:11:21] But no, that's not what Jesus means. With the numbers. Seven represents the idea of completion. 70 as 10 times seven is an expression of a magnitude, not a specific number. So this means that our responsibility to forgive goes far beyond what a legalistic world would consider complete forgiveness.

[00:11:46] Like God's love has no.

[00:11:51] Sara: So, what I'm hearing you offer Tim is showing grace to others is what God wants us to. But it's not always easy because we're so often focused on oh, ourselves. Sometimes it's easier to be selfish instead of being gracious. Maybe you see the slow clerk at the grocery store as an interruption to your day, rather than somebody who might be struggling to keep their job or who just got the worst news of their life.

[00:12:21] You may see a family member who's struggling right now as a drain on you, rather than as someone who feels hopeless over a desperate situation, or you see the person who cut you off on the freeway is your worst enemy, rather than as someone in need of God's love. We all need God's grace. We all need God's love.

[00:12:40] That's why Jesus came into this world. He came to embody God's grace in a way that we can understand the ultimate way God does. This is in and through forgiving. And the ultimate way he asks you to show up and me to show up and Tim to show up is to show grace to other people by forgiving them. Paul wrote in Colossians three 13, make allowance for each other's faults and forgive anyone who offends you.

[00:13:07] Remember the Lord forgave you so that you must forgive others.

[00:13:13] Tim: So if I find it hard to forgive or I don't feel like I have the strength to forgive what happened.

[00:13:21] Sara: Well, when forgiveness seems impossible, when you feel like you can't be gracious towards someone, I would say this, remember this. You have been forgiven. God has forgiven you. The grace God has shown. You will give you the strength to be gracious and to be generous. And God's grace extended to you in and through.

[00:13:42] Jesus will be enough for you to extend grace and forgiveness to others.

[00:13:47] Tim: So I think that's pretty cool. I mean that, I can't, I can't think of anything that the better, and I'm thinking of my own life, that the only place I've ever found strength that forgive is remembering how much Jesus has forgiven me. Now I have to stop here and say, I don't always like that.

[00:14:08] Sara: Yeah, it's.

[00:14:09] Tim: sometimes.

[00:14:10] Sara: It's so much easier to receive grace than it is to give it. And I would say that.

[00:14:16] that, I mean, that's, that's what you're pointing to in terms of forgiveness.

[00:14:21] Tim: Yeah. And sometimes if I'm being honest with myself and I'll project it now, because if I feel this way, everybody else feels this way too. It makes me feel better. I kinda like holding a grudge sometimes.

[00:14:34] Sara: Are you 13, Tim I'm teasing you because yeah, I, I think we, there's a self-righteousness I think that comes out in us and in my better moments, I can recognize that and laugh at myself and go, okay, Sarah, what are you doing here? Like be the person that God wants you to be. And. language to myself. I am not saying this to you.

[00:15:02] My language to myself, that really is a word of grace, but it's not going to sound like it is suck it up buttercup, because it makes me, do what we were talking about in the last episode, turn a new direction, but also to be able to receive God's grace and to offer people, what is it?

[00:15:18] Tim: Things I'm thinking about right now is that, um, when I remember, that I've been forgiven that I'm given, I, I think God gives me strict. And grace to forgive others. And when this happens, most of the time for me, isn't in the moment, but it comes when I do that, read, reflect, respond, and return stuff,

[00:15:46] Sara: That stuff,

[00:15:49] Tim: To be serious about it. It's, it's when I've stopped to reflect upon, , God's grace in my life. And whether it's been through Bible study, reflecting on the day, oftentimes at the end of the day, I come to a place where I say, you know, I did not act, respond the way I should have or are reacted.

[00:16:10] And there are times when I. The next day. Usually I'm not calling people in the middle of the night, but the next day I usually make contact with someone to say, you know, I, I really misspoke or are reacted when I should have been responding or whatever. So when I find it hard or I'm out of step, I do remember how good.

[00:16:36] Is not only to me, but even to the people who I've offended. And that's where I began to say, I can be who God created me to be by making a men's at that point.

[00:16:51] Sara: That's a good word, Tim bias. And there is so much more that we could say about forgiveness, but let's pause here and ask the question. What does forgiveness have to do with hope filled leader?

[00:17:03] Tim: Well, forgiveness helps us provide hope because it's a commitment to a process of change. Oh, it's a commitment to repentance. As we talked about our last episode.

[00:17:17] Sara: This week, maybe you can model the Christian value of hope in one of these ways

[00:17:22] Tim: You can recognize the value of healthy relationships and how forgiveness helps keep those relationships.

[00:17:32] Sara: or identify what needs healing in your life and who needs to be for.

[00:17:37] Tim: Or acknowledge your emotions about the harm done to you and how your emotions affect your behavior and your relationship.

[00:17:48] Sara: Or maybe you'll choose to forgive the person who is offended.

[00:17:52] Tim: Or you'll move away from your role as being a victim and release the control, empower the person who hurt you has in your life and not only over your life, but over your life.

[00:18:07] Sara: So as you let go and forgive your life.

[00:18:09] and leadership are no longer going to be defined by how you've been hurt or the person who hurts. You begin to open the door or maybe I should say, God opens the door to compassion and understanding.

[00:18:25] Tim: Sarah. I got to stop here and say how cool that would be because, , who we are is how we live. And if we become people of forgiveness and acknowledging our need for forgiveness, as well as offering forgiveness, I think we've become more hope-filled leaders. That's, , that's my bias opinion.

[00:18:48] Sara: Yeah. And there, there are probably a few ways that we can offer to folks that they can model compassion and hope along with forgiveness this week.

[00:18:58] Tim: We've talked about this a lot in terms of, , how we are, , effective and courageous leaders, but practice empathy, try seeing the situation from the other person's point of view.

[00:19:11] Sara: And if you can't see it from their point of view.

[00:19:14] at least connect with the emotion that they're feeling.

[00:19:18] Tim: That's good.

[00:19:19] Maybe you'll ask yourself why, uh, the other person would behave in such a way, and maybe you would have reacted in the same way. If you face the same situation.

[00:19:33] Sara: Or maybe you'll reflect on times you've heard others. And on those who forgiven you.

[00:19:38] Tim: And all Sarah, I'll come back to this one. Why not practice the means of grace? Write down your, your feelings, your thoughts, and ask God to provide you the grace to move.

[00:19:52] Sara: Or maybe you'll take it one step beyond just writing it down, but talking to a trusted friend, someone who is honest with you and who helps you be the person that God has created you to.

[00:20:03] Tim: And become aware and understand that forgiveness is a process. Even small hurts may need to be revisited and forgiven over and over again.

[00:20:17] Sara: So we have given you a lot about forgiveness, Tim, what are your closing thoughts for us?

[00:20:26] Tim: Sarah, the, the points of forgiveness, for the way we've been talking about it today. Isn't to get the other person to change his or her actions, behaviors, or words. The point is how forgiveness can change your life by bringing you peace, happiness, how, brings you emotional and spiritual healing.

[00:20:51] Forgiveness can take away the power. The other person continues to hold over your life. And I can only say that, , from my perspective and that, I can only think of a few terms I've been hurt so badly that I really wanted to hurt somebody back, or I wanted them to pay for it. When I did get to the point of being able to.

[00:21:21] Let go of that and to forgive now, I'm going to be honest. I have not ever offered forgiveness face-to-face to the people who've hurt me that way. I've never written a letter. I've never made a phone call, but I'm free of that because, I can say it this way. I've given it to God. I've had trusted.

[00:21:45] Friends who I've handed it to. And when I come back to it, they're very patient allow me to bleed all over them. And then we found up the wound again and move on. but forgiveness, is for you. It's not for the person who's hurt you. I think that's the biblical point that we're talking.

[00:22:08] Sara: Another good word. So remember whatever happens is the leader and as difficult as it might be, you take the lead in offering compassion, empathy, and. You reflect the love of God when you love, as you have been loved when you forgive as you have been forgiven. So you can find show notes for this episode@transformingmission.org forward slash 2, 2 0.

[00:22:36] And remember who you are is how you lead bye for now.