Jesus said if we don’t forgive others, God will not forgive us.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Forgive:  to let go of an offense or hurt, to cancel a debt, release or pardon (someone) from penalty for an offense, bear no malice towards, not hold someone responsible for an offense.

Unforgiveness: not willing to forgive, unmerciful, not allowing for mistakes to be corrected

Failure to forgive will imprison and shackle us. Not forgiving will keep the pain alive, and keep the wound open so it never heals. God will give us grace and help us if we’re willing to forgive. If you won’t forgive, it will turn into bitterness.

I Corinthians 13:4-5 (Amplified Bible) Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured.

Forgiveness is not: approving the wrong someone did, excusing bad behavior, justifying evil, letting others abuse you, not pressing charges when a crime has been committed, or forgetting the wrong that was done.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean we have amnesia. We all have a past and will remember the past. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we will become best friends or that the relationship will be restored. We don’t have to tell the person you forgive them – sometimes it isn’t even possible. Forgiveness does mean we will make things right (restitution) if we stole things.

Restitution: repay or pay back, return something to its owner. Restoring always meant more was repaid than was taken.

Exodus 22:1-4 If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double.

The person making restitution had to go to the one he trespassed against. A fifth was added to what was being restored.

Leviticus 6:1-5…If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the Lord, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep…or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour; Or have found that which was lost, and lieth concerning it, and sweareth falsely; in any of all these that a man doeth, sinning therein: Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found, Or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it…and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth…

Elisha restored the life of the Shunammite woman’s son (II Kings 4:27-37). She went to Egypt because of a famine and left her house and land. Gehazi was telling the king about Elisha restoring life to her son when the woman came to ask him to restore her home and land. The king restored her house, land, and the fruits of the seven years as she was gone.

II Kings 8:1-6 Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the Lord hath called for a famine…And the woman arose, and did after the saying of the man of God: and…sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years. And…at the seven years’ end, that the woman returned…and she went forth to cry unto the king for her house and for her land. And the king talked with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, Tell me…all the great things that Elisha hath done. And…he was telling the king how he had restored a dead body to life, that, behold, the woman, whose son he had restored to life, cried to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life. And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed a certain officer, saying, Restore all that was hers, and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land, even until now.

Paul wrote to Philemon, Apphia his wife, and Archippus (probably Philemon’s son). The church was in their house in Colosse. Paul said he was praying for them, that he heard a good report and of the love of the congregation there.

Philemon 1:1-9 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellow labourer, And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house: Grace to you, and peace…I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, Hearing of thy love and faith…toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because…the saints are refreshed by thee, brother. Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient, Yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.

Paul was about sixty years old as he wrote from prison in Rome. He asked Philemon to consider what he wrote “as Paul the aged” about Onesimus for love’s sake. Onesimus was a slave who stole from Philemon and ran away to Rome. He met Paul in prison, was saved because of Paul’s testimony, and had been helping Paul. He was showing the handiwork of God in Onesimus. Onesimus wasn’t saved at the church house before he ran away to Rome. He had to come back to make restitution and be clear. Paul asked Philemon to forgive Onesimus and receive him as he would receive Paul, as a brother in Christ and not just as a slave. Paul said he’d pay whatever Onesimus owed, but reminded Philemon that he owed Paul “even thine own self…”

Philemon 1:10-25 I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me: Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels: Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel: But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly. For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord? If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself. If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account; I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides. Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord. Having confidence in thy obedience…knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say. But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you. There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus; Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. [Written from Rome to Philemon, by Onesimus a servant.]

Onesimus and Epaphras from Colosse had gone to encourage Paul (Colossians 4:8). Paul sent Onesimus as a faithful brother to let the Colossians know how he was doing. Philemon must have forgiven Onesimus because he was being used. Also Ignatius of Antioch (an early Christian writer and bishop of Antioch) wrote about Onesimus as Bishop of Ephesus. It’s important to be obedient to whatever God shows us about restitution so our debts can be clear with God and men. Making restitution always is more than what was originally lost or stolen. We get a blessing when we make restitution.

Colossians 4:8-9 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts; With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.

(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)