The “Why” of Forgiveness was addressed in handout 1 but it’s expanded even more here. In Matthew 6, Jesus never says that fellowship will be broken. This may happen but it’s because the sinner refuses to fellowship and holds on to an unforgiving spirit. You can’t have a good relationship and it’s hard to fellowship if you don’t forgive but God doesn’t cut off fellowship with us. He keeps working in our hearts to bring about forgiveness. Psalm 66:18 is not about powerful praying but about God not listening because we love our sin. Although God does say that we need to forgive, John 14:15 says that we’ll keep God’s commandments if we love Him. Although Chuck Phelps is correct in his statement, he could have used a better verse. Eph 4:32 says to forgive others because God has forgiven us.
Romans 12 talks about our relationship with one another and how a Christian should act towards one another no matter how that person treats you. Our natural tendency as a human is to treat others like they have treated us. In this passage, God is telling us to live differently and that God will take care of it. When God says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” you know it’s in God’s hands. This does not mean to overlook sin. Sin must be dealt with. If someone has committed a crime, God has placed people in authority who can deal with criminals. Seeking justice for a crime committed is NOT vengeance. Both forgiveness and justice can be accomplished together, they are not mutually exclusive.
And the final and probably the worst reason a person should “learn to forgive” is to “avoid the chastisement of God.” He uses Hebrews 12:6 that states that God disciplines his “sons.” What I think Chuck Phelps is saying is that if you don’t forgive, you are disobeying God, and if you disobey God, He will chastise you. So, if none of the other reasons for learning to forgive work, be afraid that you’ll get punished if you don’t forgive. I don’t believe that you need to be afraid of God’s discipline. It may not be comfortable or nice but it’s designed to teach and mold us into His image, unlike some of our chastisement of our children, which is usually to make them pay for doing something wrong and to teach them not to disobey us.