New Hope Notes

How To Forgive Everyone
Life Essentials

Pastor Dave Barr
March 15, 2009 - W0911

Pastor Dave Barr is from New Hope Windward which has three sites:  New Hope Windward at the Windward Mall Regal Theatres, New Hope Kailua at Kailua High School, and New Hope WCCC at the Women’s Community Correctional Center in Kailua.  New Hope Windward just completed its Extreme Prison Chapel Makeover which serves more than 50% of the facility’s inmates each week.  Knowing that so much has happened in the one short year that New Hope Windward has been operating the site, just imagine what God has in store for that location!


Is there anyone you’ve been holding a grudge against and need to forgive?  Consider this [humorous] story…


St. Peter is standing at the gateway to heaven when a woman approaches.  St. Peter greets her and says, “Before I can allow you to enter, you must spell one word correctly.”

“What word?” asks the woman.

“Any word,”  say Peter.

“Okay.  L-O-V-E. Love,” spells the woman.

Just as the woman is about to proceed into the pearly gates, St. Peter remembers that he needs to quickly go do something so he asks the woman if she will mind the gate for a short while and just do what he has been doing:  ask each person to spell a word correctly before allowing them to enter.  She agrees.

She is standing there just a moment when her ex-husband appears and starts to approach the gate.

“What are you doing here?” she asks.

“I don’t know.  Is this heaven?  Am I going to heaven?”  he asks.

“We don’t know yet.  First you need to spell one word correctly,” she says.

“What word?” he asks.

After a short pause, she says, “Czechoslovakia.”


A lot of us are like that woman; we hold a grudge.  Some people even hold them to the grave.  Let’s face it, all of us get wronged in life at some time or another.  And it’s easy to pick up unforgiveness and carry it around all our day.  We carry the rock of resentment around with us throughout our day and bring it into every situation and relationship we have.


Think for a moment, who really irritates or annoys you?  Who really frustrates you?  It could be your supervisor, a co-worker, someone in a ministry you serve in, an in-law, or it may even be your spouse or one of your kids.  Who frustrates you?  If you can’t think of anyone, then I have to say…you’re dead.


These people, or rocks, they’re like sandpaper:  they rub us wrong and they irritate us.  Maybe it’s someone who really wronged you like a former spouse or maybe it’s someone who died.  Maybe you live with the deep pain of regret and you can’t forgive yourself.  Or maybe it’s even God…for an unanswered prayer or something you think He should’ve, but didn’t, prevent.  For some of us, it’s just a small root of unforgiveness; for others, it’s a massive tree!  Rocks represent wrongs, hurts, and irritations we all experience and if we don’t process them correctly, they can morph into bitterness and resentment.


What does God want us to do with people that irritate us?





CHOOSE TO FORGIVE EVERYONE…Every single person who ever offended or irritated us.  The word forgive comes from the Greek word “aphiçmi” which literally means to lay it down, to let go and leave alone.


Some offenses are small and easy to forgive, e.g., if you were late for a meeting or I loaned you $10 but you forgot to pay me back.  But talking stink behind my back?  Hard!  Just because it’s not easy to do, doesn’t mean God doesn’t want us to do it anyway.


And how many times do we need to choose to forgive?  Well Peter asked Jesus about this, imagine…Back in those days, Jewish law said that you needed to forgive people three times.  That was the law.  Now Peter, probably wanting to impress Jesus, doubled that number and added one for good measure.  Listen to what Jesus had to say, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother when he sins against me.  Up to seven times?’  Jesus answered, ‘Not seven times, but seventy times seven!’” (Matt. 18:21-22)


70 x 7 = 490 but that’s not to say what if your spouse comes home late everyday for two years and because that’s more than 490 times that you don’t have to forgive them now!  No, what Jesus was saying here is that we shouldn’t keep track of offenses and we should forgive everyone with unlimited forgiveness.  Here are three True or False questions:


  • Forgiveness includes minimizing the offense and pain it caused?  False – forgiveness does not mean that the offense was not that bad or that the hurt suffered was any less painful.


  • A person should not be forgiven until they say they are sorry?  False – Saying that you won’t forgive someone until they are sorry or won’t do it again (if done repeatedly) is not forgiveness; that’s negotiation!  Biblical forgiveness is giving forgiveness whether it’s asked for or not.  Just like what Jesus did for us.


  • Forgiveness includes restoring trust and the relationship?  False.  Some of you said true but it’s not.  Forgiveness and restoring a relationship are two different things.  Think of it this way:  we are asked to forgive people immediately but trust and a relationship are built over time so forgiveness does not necessarily require a restoration of trust and relationship.  That takes additional time.  So why should I forgive?






A Stanford University study stated that forgiveness can drop your stress levels by 50%.  The doctor conducting the study is quoted as saying, “Carrying bitterness and anger is very toxic.”  It poisons our lives and the lives of others:


“Be careful that none of you fails to respond to the grace which God gives, for if he does there can very easily spring up in him a bitter spirit which is not only bad in itself but can also poison the lives of may others.” (Heb. 12:15)


Holding onto a grudge can harm you physically.  It will poison your life and the lives of others.  It grows like cancer.  Forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Holding onto unforgiveness makes us feel junk.  We often become critical, negative, and are unnecessarily tense.  We should forgive because grudges can harm us physically but also…




God makes it clear that if I hold onto unforgiveness, God will not forgive me.  “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt. 6:14-15)


Why would God put that in the Bible?  Maybe because it’s so damaging and can hurt your relationship with Him.  So then how do I choose to forgive everyone?  Well below are some of the principles I follow which I believe will help.







God knows who hurt you; let Him settle the score.  We should not retaliate.  “Dear friends, never avenge yourselves.  Leave that to God.  For it is written, ‘I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,’ says the Lord.”  (Rom. 12:19)


Leave the vengeance to God. Give up your right to get even and retaliate.  You may think, “That’s not fair!”  And you’re right.  God didn’t say forgiveness is fair.  In a sinful and fallen world, things aren’t fair but in heaven, it is.  Trust in our just and loving Father to handle things as He sees fit. 




You know you’re doing it when you feel the adrenaline when you see that person, think of that person, or recall the situation.  People who do this are wearing a badge for victimization.  They are seeking empathy for what has happened to them, but the Bible encourages us otherwise, “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing:  Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” (Phil. 3:13)


This passage encourages us to look forward, not back.  When we’ve been hurt, we can either rehease it or release it so let me suggest something:  when you find yourself rehearsing a wrong, stop and do a quick prayer.  Ask God to help you stop rehearsing the wrong and release it to Him.  Ask for His strength to let it go and to leave it to Him.  When you do that, He will answer and He will replace your stress with peace.  Then, the last piece of advice I have on how to forgive everyone is this:




“…do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28)


This is one of those passages that most of us just want to cut right out of the Bible.  How can you do good, bless, and pray for someone who has wronged you?  You’re probably thinking that’s impossible!  And in some respects you’re probably right.  On our own, with our own strength, this may be impossible but with God’s love, God’s strength, and God’s grace, anything is possible.  And in fact, when you can do good, bless, and pray for those who have wronged you, that’s when you know you have truly forgiven.


To conclude the service today, let this be our prayer…


When someone wrongs me…God, I will let you settle the score.  Help me not to rehearse and nurse the score.  I pray a blessing for them – bless their socks off! 


You need Jesus Christ’s power (not your own) to forgive.  Choose to let go and release it to God and accept His peace beyond your understanding instead.





1.      How do you typically deal with wrongs against you?  Are you quick to forgive?  Do you lash out in retaliation?  Or do you stew in the poison of resentment?

2.      What do you think it means to “choose” to forgive everyone?  What would you say to someone who says that forgiveness is not within their control?  That their emotions just get the better of them?

3.      How has carrying a grudge or unforgiveness affected you?  Share an example of what you mean?

4.      What steps can you take to improve how you handle offenses against you?  What can you do to ensure that you’re turning those offenses over to God for Him to settle rather than trying to settle the score yourself?

5.      What does it mean to “return good for evil”?  Does it require us to minimize the offense?  Does it require regret on the other person’s part?  Does it mean that we need to restore the trust and relationship?  What does it really mean?