We have all had someone close to us that hurt us.

Opening Scripture:
2 Timothy 4:16-18  At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Paul was facing a criminal trial, and at the time the defense called for friends to speak on his behalf, no one came to stand by him.

We go through life seeming constantly being hurt by people. We would long to have the same response Paul did.

2 Timothy 4:16b  “…may it not be counted against them.”

When it would have made sense to hold a grudge, he made the decision to forgive.

The key to Paul being able to so quickly forgive lies in his maintaining an eternal perspective.

Three Aspects of an Eternal Perspective of Forgiveness:

1) We must have a proper perspective of our past.

2 Timothy 4:17a   “…but the Lord stood by me and strengthened me”

Paul had a choice to make.
– He recognized that he served a God who would never let him down because He had always stood by Him.
– Choosing to follow Jesus means that, you no longer have to define yourself based on what has been done to you.
– When you accepted Jesus, you became a new creation.
– When you chose to follow Jesus, you gave up your identity as a victim of those around you and traded it in for your new identity as a victor under the cross.

Not only did Paul understand that the Lord has stood with Him and rescued Him, but He also acknowledged that he had been given an incredible gift.

Greek for “strengthened” means “having given power.” Paul knew that the Lord had given him the power to not just forgive but to press on in the face of everything that would have come his way by the Holy Spirit.

Just as He poured power into Paul, so He pours power into us.

Acts 1:4  “Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait…”

Acts 1:4-5, 8  Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

That same power is available to us. When the Holy Spirit falls on a life, we receive the same power that raised Jesus from the grave and catapulted the church into existence.

Paul was so focused on what God had done for Him that he hardly had time to dwell on what others had done to him.
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2) We must have a proper perspective of our present mission.

2 Timothy 4:17b  “…so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed to the Gentiles.”

Paul had an eternal perspective of what he had been charged within the present.

Unforgiveness will suck all of our energy from us, leaving us ineffective at doing what God has commanded us to do. We are commanded to go into the highways and byways to compel the lost into the kingdom

Nehemiah 6:3  “ So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?”

Your calling is too important to let anything, including unforgiveness, get you off the wall.
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3) We must have a proper perspective of our future.

2 Timothy 4:18  “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom.”

The promise he rested on was not that the trials on earth would end, but that one day he would spend eternity with Jesus.

Jesus is coming soon, and that’s the best news we could ever hear!

Paul was able to push through everything that others had to throw at him because his perspective of this life didn’t center on what he was experiencing at the moment. He knew that the sufferings of this present time were not even worth comparing to the glory that was awaiting him.

Forgiveness is all about our perspective. Are we focused on the here and now, burdened down by what is happening to us, or are we concentrated on the One who has never failed us nor will He ever fail us?
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Questions:

1. When was a time that you extended forgiveness when it seemed impossible?
2. What barriers keep you from extended forgiveness at times?
3. Who in your life do you need to forgive ?

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