Introduction: “I’ll forgive, but I will not forget.” Have you ever
found yourself saying that? Should we forget as well as forgive? Or,
is forgetting being foolish? What about the saying, “Fool me once,
shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” How do these worldly
sayings relate to the teachings of the Bible? Are we required as
Christians to do more than simply forgive? Let’s dive into our Bible
study and find out!

  1. Helping Your Enemy

    1. Read Exodus 23:4. What would you be inclined to do under
      these circumstances?

      1. What would be wrong with just tying the ox or donkey
        up and letting the owner find him? After all, you
        have made the job of finding the animal easier. Why
        do you have to bring it back to your enemy?

      2. Why do you think we are given this instruction:

        1. Because we believe in kindness to animals?

        2. Because there is merit to being kind to our

    2. Read Exodus 23:5. Not only is your enemy a bad fellow (of
      course), but he is stupid when it comes to overloading his
      donkey. Who is the “him” in “be sure to help him with it”
      – the donkey or your stupid enemy? Why should we be
      helping bad and stupid people?

    3. Read Proverbs 25:21-22. Here is a similar piece of advice.
      We are told to help our enemy. However, in this text we
      are given a reason to help our enemy. What reasons do you

      1. Let’s take the easier one first: God will reward us.
        Why do you think God rewards us for helping our
        enemy? Why does God have an interest in this?

      2. The second reason to help our enemy is that it “heaps
        burning coals on his head.” Sounds excellent to me!
        Great idea. However, since we are not actually
        burning up our enemies, what do you think this means?

        1. Will their heads start hurting? (Actually, yes.
          I think the idea is that your enemy will start
          feeling bad because he has been evil and you
          have been good. One commentary mentioned that we
          might be “melting” our enemy.)

        2. Let’s just stop for a minute. If we are supposed
          to be doing good for our enemies, then why are
          we so glad to have them feel bad because we are
          pouring on the “hot coals?” (I guess it is “OK”
          to create this type of pain for our enemy
          because it helps him to turn to the right.)

          1. Does it help us to turn to the right too?
            If so, how?

    4. Read Ecclesiastes 7:21-22. Here is an argument for getting
      hard of hearing! How does this suggest we should handle

      1. Do we have an obligation to avoid looking for

      2. What argument is made in these verses for
        overlooking, or not taking too seriously, complaints
        by our helpers? (Part of a forgiving spirit is to be
        understanding. This text reminds us that we may have
        said harsh things about others in the past. We need
        to remember our own past actions when others say
        harsh things about us.)

  2. God’s Example

    1. Read Matthew 5:43-44. Who said you should love your
      neighbor and hate your enemy? Was that you who said that?

      1. What about your ex-spouse? How to you feel about
        him/her? Is it love or hate?

      2. What attitude does Jesus tell us that we should have
        towards our enemies?

      3. Does this attitude depend on our enemy asking for our

        1. Let’s just step back from Matthew 5 a minute and
          read Luke 17:3b. Is forgiveness dependant upon
          repentance in this verse? (Yes)

        2. Notice that Luke 17:3 deals with “brothers”
          (believers) and Matthew 5 seems to deal with
          unbelievers. Does that distinction make a

    2. Let’s continue on with Matthew 5:45-48. Read. What reason
      does Jesus give for this command that goes against our
      natural instincts? (If we want to be children of God, we
      need to follow His example.)

      1. What precisely, is God’s example? (God sends sun and
        rain on both the good and the evil.)

        1. Is this the complete story about how God treats
          the good and the evil?

        2. Quickly review Judges 2:11-15. What do you say
          about Jesus’ comments about how God treats those
          who are evil? (Jesus is not giving us a full
          explanation of God’s attitude towards evil when
          He describes the weather.)

          1. What was God’s purpose in Judges 2? (You
            can see that the general purpose of God
            was to turn the evildoers back to Him,
            back to obedience.)

    3. As you compare Matthew 5:45 with Judges 2:11-15, how would
      you conclude we should approach our enemies? What does
      showing “love” for our enemies mean? (My approach to the
      Bible is to say that every part of it is true. In
      particular, I certainly would not discount the words of
      Jesus! The word “love” in our Matthew 5 text means to
      “love in a social or moral sense.” (Strong’s) When we add
      this to the weather illustration, it seems that we should
      do to our enemies what we would do to anyone. We conclude
      we should not try to injure them or neglect to help them
      if we would help anyone else. Even in Judges 2:18 we see
      that God had compassion upon the evildoers. In an attempt
      to bring the people into a right relationship with Him,
      God did not tolerate wrong-doing. From this I conclude
      that love means we can address the specific evil acts of
      evildoers. On the other hand, we should not treat those
      who are evil differently when it comes to matters outside
      their evildoing.)

      1. Throw in all the texts we have looked at so far. What
        definition of love for our enemies do you see?

  3. God’s Command and Power

    1. Read Mark 11:25. How do we know when we need to forgive
      someone? What is the “test” that Jesus gives? (“If you
      hold anything against anyone.” This means that if you feel
      resentful and upset towards someone, then that is
      something you need to forgive.)

      1. What is the “downside” of not forgiving someone who
        causes these resentful feelings? (This suggests that
        God will not forgive us.)

      2. Let’s discuss this in the context of what we just
        learned about treating our enemies as God treats
        them. If you see your enemy’s animal running away,
        what attitude should be in your heart? (If you have
        forgiven your enemy, then the resentful feeling
        should be gone. That causes you to do for your enemy
        what you would do for anyone who is in need.)

    2. Read Luke 17:4-5. Will you be able to love and forgive in
      the way the Bible teaches us to love and forgive?

      1. Did the apostles think they were ready to follow the
        high standard Jesus taught them? (No.)

      2. What did the apostles think they needed to follow
        Jesus’ teaching? (More faith.)

    3. Friend, how about you? Do you love your enemies? Do you
      readily forgive those who hurt you and cause you to feel
      resentful? Jesus creates a very high standard for us that
      runs counter to our human nature. The solution to our
      failings in this area is to repent and ask Jesus to give
      us the faith to follow His teaching.

  4. Next Week: Out of the Heart