I have been talking about forgiveness, and I thought an example of forgiveness from Scripture could be very helpful. Open to 1 Samuel 26.
There is no doubt that forgiveness costs you, but in the end it sets you free. And what price can we place on freedom? Forgiveness is actually incredible self renunciation. Christ models this, especially on the cross. Remember, they are murdering Him, and He says,
Luke 23:34 (ESV Strong’s)
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
But let’s look at another Biblical example of true forgiveness…
DAVID FORGIVES 1 Samuel 26
David is on the run from Saul, and he goes quietly one night to Saul’s camp with his comrade Abishai. They sneak into the camp, and make their way to the centre, and see Saul sleep, with his spear by his head.
1 Samuel 26:8-11 (ESV Strong’s)
Then Abishai said to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now please let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice.” But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the LORD’S anointed and be guiltless?” And David said, “As the LORD lives, the LORD will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish. The LORD forbid that I should put out my hand against the LORD’S anointed. But take now the spear that is at his head and the jar of water, and let us go.”
Later on David reveals himself from a nearby hill, out of range of the king’s army. He calls to Saul, and explains how he has spared his life, but took the spear and jug as proof.
1 Samuel 26:21-24 (ESV Strong’s)
Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will no more do you harm, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Behold, I have acted foolishly, and have made a great mistake.” And David answered and said, “Here is the spear, O king! Let one of the young men come over and take it. The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness, for the LORD gave you into my hand today, and I would not put out my hand against the LORD’S anointed. Behold, as your life was precious this day in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the LORD, and may he deliver me out of all tribulation.”
THE CHALLENGE OF FORGIVING
Forgiveness is a challenge, especially when the offence is ongoing, but if ever you are to win a heart back, you will need to forgive. There are 3 kinds of people you will need to show forgiveness to in life, and David had all of these wrapped up in Saul.
1. FORGIVING A FREIND
Saul was at one point friendly to David, and an ally. Our neighbour, our friend, our loved one is going to have to be forgiven at some point. At some stage they will let us down. And remember forgiveness is an act of love. Love keeps people close, Unforgiveness pushes them away.
Proverbs 17:9 (ESV Strong’s)
Whoever covers an offence seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.
1 Peter 4:8 (ESV Strong’s)
love covers a multitude of sins.
Forgiving them might hurt, forgiveness always costs, but you can see the benefit… To win them back.
2. FORGIVING AN ENEMY
This one is a little harder. Saul turned from being an ally to an enemy. Your enemy seeks to destroy you, He seeks to harm you. Forgiving him is harder, because there’s no guarantee they will change. But here’s the thing… If you forgive them, and if forgiveness is demonstrated, they may change. If you don’t, there’s no chance they will change.
Romans 12:20-21 (ESV Strong’s)
“if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The metaphor of heaping burning coals on their head it a tricky one. Most commentators feel it is making them feel guilt or shame, not out of revenge but hopefully seeing them change for good, overcoming evil with good.
In high school, there was a bully who use to pick on myself and my mates. Then one day we were in our musical together, and he was super nervous. I sat and reached out him, talked him through it, calmed him down, and afterwards, he became an advocate and friend.
It could be that one of the reasons God hasn’t dealt with your enemy yet is that you are still in the way! So learn to forgive. If David had killed Saul, he have put another Saul on the throne, maybe himself. If you don’t forgive, you become more like them. Evil seeps into you. You need to forgive for your own sake.
3. FORGIVING A FOOL
Saul actually embodies the Biblical definition of a fool… a fool is discussed at length in Proverbs 26, but generally in the Bible, a fool means someone who is wilfully and destructively blind to their own faults. We all know people like this!
Proverbs 18:2 (ESV Strong’s)
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
Denial is not just a river in Egypt, it’s a state some people live in. Fools cannot see that they are fools, and nothing you do changes that. Forgive them, yes, release yourself, yes, but they are so blinded they simply cannot see the need to change.
Whether it’s a friend, an enemy or just a fool, Forgiveness costs, but as we said last week, Unforgiveness ultimately costs you more. In this story David beautifully models true forgiveness. Let’s look at some of the characteristics of forgiveness…
1. FORGIVING STARTS WITH A DECISION
David had a golden opportunity to punish King Saul. Abishai thought he was crazy behaving as he did but David had already resolved to not harm God’s anointed.
I love what David says in verse 10…
1 Samuel 26:10 (ESV Strong’s)
And David said, “As the LORD lives, the LORD will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish.
Saul is going to get whacked by God somehow, either due to old age, or in battle, but only God knows in His wisdom what they deserve. David made the decision not to be the punisher, but to forgive and leave it with God. It all starts with a decision.
2. FORGIVING MUST BE DEMONSTRATED
When you truly forgive, you need to demonstrate it. Not necessarily to them, but to yourself. So often we make an attempt to forgive, and on the outside we say little, look very pious, but inside we are quietly sheathing. That’s not forgiveness!
Lord, I forgive them, but go and sort them out God. I won’t punish them, but You ought to, Lord!
Is not hard to say nothing, look like you’re forgiving them, but boil inside. It’s not hard to lady out and let them have it, or constantly talk about them. It’s really hard to love them and genuinely forgive them and wish the best for them. But true forgiveness is enacted, not just talked about.
James 2:17-18 (ESV Strong’s)
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
This doesn’t mean you have to confront them, although David did here. But Forgiving means not continually bringing it up, not telling others, not trying to punish them or getting even, not trying to ruin their reputation. True forgiving means letting it go and trusting God for their future.
3. FORGIVING NEEDS TO BE REPEATED, LAYER AFTER LAYER
Last week we talked about it, that forgiveness is often ongoing, and when you peel one layer, there’s more to forgive, or should we say another opportunity to forgive. David had already spared Saul’s life in the cave in 1 Samuel 24.
1 Samuel 24:10 (ESV Strong’s)
Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the LORD gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’S anointed.’
David was careful to forgive Saul and not attack the Lord’s anointed. When you forgive, you leave it to the Lord and release them, knowing
Numbers 14:18 (ESV Strong’s)
‘The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty,
4. FORGIVING IS RISKY
David stole the spear, then confronted Saul from afar on a hill. He took risks. Any time you forgive, you are taking a risk. Your forgiveness might be perceived as weakness, especially for guys. Abishai is a typical guy…
1 Samuel 26:8 (ESV Strong’s)
Then Abishai said to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now please let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice.”
But David says no, and risks taking the spear and the jar of water, then risks exposing himself to his enemy Saul. Forgiving is risky. It might never be reciprocated, they could throw it all back in your face, but ultimately I believe forgiving is still worth it.
5. FORGIVING DOESN’T MEAN YOU TRUST THEM
David stood and called to Saul out of range, because he didn’t trust him. You can forgive, but that doesn’t mean you have to trust them. When David challenged Saul,
1 Samuel 26:21-22 (ESV Strong’s)
Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will no more do you harm, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Behold, I have acted foolishly, and have made a great mistake.” And David answered and said, “Here is the spear, O king! Let one of the young men come over and take it.
Hey David. Come on down and let’s be friends. I don’t think so says, David, send someone up to get your spear, but I ain’t coming down. And who can blame him?
When your trust has been violated, Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you stupidly or naively trust them. I’ve had people say terrible things against me and try to ruin my reputation. I forgive them. But I also wisely keep my distance, because I can’t trust them. I takes a lot to regain lost trust.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you stupidly open yourself up to more attacks. We are called to be servants, not door mats!
OUR TREASURE IS IN HEAVEN… THE VIEW THAT MAKES FORGIVENESS POSSIBLE
Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV Strong’s)
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
If you can truly forgive, there is no telling what God can do with your life. If you hold onto resentment, you stifle your Christian development, and you poison yourself, not them.
David risked his life to forgive and redeem, Jesus gave His life for the same reason. When someone wrongs you there is a price to be paid. Either you pay it by your Unforgiveness, or you hand it to God and let Him pay the debt with the blood of His Son.
True forgiving is based on true perspective.
Hebrews 13:6 (ESV Strong’s)
“The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
If they attack your reputation, your wealth, your body, your home… Remember your true home, your true wealth, your true reputation is in heaven. Forgiveness takes a humble, obedient soul to say, “Lord, I give it all up to You, You take over, I’ll forgive the, and trust You, no matter what!”
We’ve prayed prayers of forgiveness over the last few weeks, but today we get to pray even further… That God would bless the other party.
Choice is an important right each of you have, and I appreciate that you have chosen to come to meet with our church this morning.
While we never want to control you, the leadership of Ignite Church deem it important to inform you of a group of people we love and care about have chosen, at their request not ours, to leave our church, go independent and form a separate house group.
While we forgive, release and wish God’s richest blessings for them, we also recognise that some of their members have been actively and aggressively recruiting from our church for their group.
So we simply want to inform you and warn you of their recruiting activities, so that if approached you can understand that they are not an authorised group from Ignite, nor are they affiliated with any other church, therefore they have no insurances, no child safety and no covering, authority or leadership from this or any other church.
You are always free to worship where ever you choose, but I appreciate and am thankful that during this difficult time you choose Ignite. I you have any questions, please talk to any of the board members of this church.
FORGIVING DOESN’T MEAN YOU SAVE THEM
FORGIVING INVOLVES RISK
FORGIVING IS NOT PASSIVE, BOILING
FORGIVENESS IN CHUNKS
PEOPLE ARE ETERNAL
TREAT WITH SACRED DIGNITY, NEVER BE HARSH
BECAUSE WE ALL LIVE ONLY BY GOD’S MERCY, THEREFORE IT IS UNJUST FOR US TO WITHHOLD MERCY
Matt 18, Mark 11:35
FORGIVING YOUR ENEMIES
Why what how.
FORGIVENESS IS A COMMITMENT
Forgiveness us a commitment. Resenting them nurtures evil.
I won’t bring it up to you, hoping to punish you, or to others, hoping to damage your reputation. Don’t bring it up to yourself hoping anybody will punish them.
Every time you do it hurts. You’re paying the debt
David says my Lord the King, not you bitter old man
Abishai thinks he is crazy. But Forgiveness is always costly.
Some people have done bad to you, and will continue to do so.
David takes the spear, this to a high and safe place.
David is being realistically and aggressively loving. Not passive.
It’s hard to hate in response. When hurt we often outwardly show nothing but inwardly seethe.
David us not trying to hurt Saul, he’s trying to redeem him,
It takes risk, it takes pain and toil. But he us still realistic. He doesn’t trust him.
Forgiving doesn’t mean you trust them.
If you confront someone in one, without desire to hurt, they may not change, but if you retaliate they will never change.
Learn to live God’s anointed. To save and serve God’s people. David refused to protect himself by striking out at others. 1 pet2, Jests did not retaliate. Father forgive them
If you see the anointed one loving you, we need to live others the same way.
We live in a culture where forgiveness is getting harder to find. Our culture is a culture of self assertion. You have to grab all you can. Forgiveness is incredible self renunciation. Only Christ models this.
Neighbour, enemy or fool..