Forgiveness and Reconciliation – Gospel in Life

Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Tim Keller |  May 18, 2008

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  • Christian Living and Obedience
  • Forgiveness
Matthew 18:15-17, 23-35
RS 202-07


We’re in a series on Christian practices. We’ve said beliefs have to be turned into changed character through Christian practices, through spiritual disciplines.

We come now to forgiveness and reconciliation of relationships. In our culture, we tend to think of forgiveness as a private, emotional process. But the Bible sees it as a communal discipline that we all have to practice. Matthew 18 is a very hard-hitting chapter on this subject of forgiveness and relationship reconciliation.

Let’s look at forgiveness under three headings: 1) why it’s so crucial, 2) what it is, and 3) how you do it.

Matthew 18:15–17, 23–35

When we talk about forgiving others and making things right, we often think it’s a personal and emotional journey. But, in the Christian faith, it’s a group effort, a community thing. It’s important for us to understand why forgiveness matters, what it really means, and how we can practice it.

1. Why it’s so crucial

The story of the servant who couldn’t forgive teaches us that not forgiving others can be a sign of a deeper problem with our relationship with God. Think of forgiveness like fruit on a tree – it shows God’s kindness is in us. If we hold on to anger and refuse to forgive, we’re acting like Satan, only thinking about ourselves. This can give us a clue about where we stand spiritually and what could be waiting for us in eternity. So, it’s important for us to check our hearts for any unforgiveness and deal with it.

2. What it is

Forgiveness and making things right are about being kind and understanding to those who have hurt us. It’s about seeing them for who they really are, not just the bad things they’ve done. We need to understand how deep our anger runs to truly understand what it means to forgive. Forgiveness means accepting the hurt someone else has caused us, choosing not to get back at them, and deciding to let go and move forward.

3. How you do it

The church community plays an important part in helping us get along with each other. They can offer guidance, support, and a way to keep each other accountable. When we have problems with each other, the goal isn’t to blame or punish, but to fix the relationship. The church can step in to help if needed, always reminding us of Jesus’s message of love and forgiveness. When we understand how much Jesus has forgiven us, it helps us to forgive others and frees us from anger and bitterness.



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