Rev. E. Ahenkan Owusu
By -
1ST:  GEN. 50: 15 - 21
2ND:  ROM. 14: 1 - 12
3RD:  MATT. 18: 21 - 35

Which of us here has ever been wronged by another person? And which of us too has never wronged anybody before? Last Sunday we were called to love one another. In showing love and living together, there will also be hurting moments. It is said that “to err is human but to forgive is divine”. An Akan proverb also says that “trees that are close together scratch each other”. Therefore, if we can live together in love and unity, we need the ‘spirit of forgiveness’.
So our theme for today is, “Forgiveness”.

I define forgiveness as “a wilful choice and decision, motivated by our obedience to God and his command to let go of the offense committed against us and overcome the anger, bitterness, resentment and the hurt we feel towards a person who has wronged us”.

Forgiveness is therefore a process; it begins from within us then it is extended to the offending person by acts of love and fellowship. If we are unable to let go of the hurt and pain within us, we cannot extend an open hand to the guilty fellow.

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. It is deliberately setting aside and neglecting an offense committed against us in order to pursue restoration and enhance the quality of the relationship between the two of you. When we forgive, we may still remember the offense, but it does not produce anger, bitterness and any bad blood feeling towards the offending party.

The meaning of forgiveness is amply exemplified by Joseph’s in the first reading. We are told that:
“When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” (Gen. 50: 15 – 17).
But Joseph who had learned to forgive them already wept at what they did, and said to them:
“Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Gen: 50: 19 – 20)

Joseph told them not to fear because he has forgiven them and would not retaliate in any way. Though they did evil to him, God used it for a good purpose. That makes the scripture true that, “all things work for good for those who love the Lord”. Forgiveness is letting go and letting God. Joseph let go of what his brothers did against him and allowed God to turn it out for His glory.

Forgiveness does not come easy for most of us. Our natural instinct is to recoil in self-protection when we are hurt. We don't naturally overflow with mercy, grace and forgiveness when we've been wronged. So how can we learn to forgive like Joseph did?

As already indicated, forgiveness is a process and not just an event. It takes the Word of God, our faith and willingness to obey God to produce a forgiving spirit in us. Joseph may have felt pain, bitterness and resentment towards his brothers at the time they sold him. But in the course of time, his faith and willingness to obey God helped him to see and understand the whole ordeal as the purpose of God.

So to be able to forgive:
(i) We should submit our will to God. We should not focus on our emotions and hurt, but consider what the Lord expects of us in the situation. What would Jesus do, if He was to be in that situation?

(ii) We should recognise individual differences and accept people as they are and not what we expect them to be. Paul tells us in the second reading that:
“One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him” (Rom. 14:2 & 3).

(iii) We should not judge people. When we pass judgment on what people do, then we find it difficult to forgive them. We end up condemning them and driving them away from even the church. Paul post this question in the second reading:
“Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand (Rom. 14: 4).

(iv) We should not keep score. In the third reading, Peter asked Jesus the number of times he should forgive a brother who does the wrong thing. Jesus answered: “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:22). By this Jesus meant that we are to forgive as many times as a brother sins against us. So don’t keep scores of people’s wrongdoing and keep referring them to it.

Jesus then gave a parable that explains the reason we have to forgive.
In the parable, Jesus compares the kingdom of Heaven to a King who sought to settle accounts with his servants. The Bible says the king forgave one servant who owed so much. But this servant later caused the arrest of a fellow servant who owed him a little amount. When the king heard of it, he called the unforgiving servant and threw him into prison. Then Jesus said:
“So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Mat 18:35)

If we do not forgive, God will also not forgive us of our sin. This is something we always say as part of the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.
So we owe it as a duty to our own selves to forgive those who sin against us, in order to have God forgive us of our own sins. If we have indeed received the forgiveness of God through Christ Jesus, then we should extend the same forgiveness to the brother or sister who has offended us.

Who has wronged you that you find it difficult to forgive? Remember that to err is human but to forgive is divine. Let divinity rule through your heart and let go of the hurt and let God reveal His love through you. Forgive and make the love of God complete.


Message by: Rev. Sir Anthony Ani

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  1. I really love this. Its touching and powerful, God bless you.

  2. God bless you Osofo Ahenkan for volunteering for this work.

  3. God richly bless you Rev. for the message. Forgiveness is difficult but it also makes our heart light when we forgive. God bless you. Amen 🙏🏽

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