First off, I’d like to say many of you may not like my message this morning. Secondly, I’d also like to say, “Thank you!” I say that because what I saw this past week scattered all over Facebook is what brought this lesson to my heart.
I have a question for you: Who betrayed (lied, mistreated, took advantage) you? I saw them on Facebook… statements and memes, all with harsh words indicating to me you’re exceptionally angry with someone.
I would like to talk about “Letting go!” I know, many of you are saying, “How can you possibly know what was done to me?!” …and you’re right, I don’t know. The thing I can tell you is many “bad things” have been done to me in the past and many are still done to me today!
I would even go as far as to say some of the posts I’d seen this past week might even have pertained to something I may have, or may not have, done. But, like you say about me not knowing, I might say the same to you.
What Jesus Said
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times Jesus taught us about forgiveness. The Gospel verses are numerous, and I’d be here through next week if I were to read and talk about all of them.
Jesus told us we would go through these times. Times when we would be “sinned against” or have wrong done to us.
Luke 17:1 – “Jesus said to His Disciples: ‘Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone whom they come.’”
The first thing we need to remember about what He said is God knows we will go through times like these and when they actually take place. He is fully aware… and is always there to help you through them.
But are we therefore, because we’re holding our grudges and not forgiving others, “angry at God?” Has God “Sinned against us” for allowing these terrible things to happen?
God is already on top of it when others do you wrong. So, what did Jesus tell us to do? How are we supposed to react when someone does us wrong?
Luke 17:3-4 – “So watch yourselves. ‘If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sein against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.’”
And immediately, the Apostles said (this is kind of funny) …
Luke 17:5 – “The Apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’”
Pretty scary right? The Apostles knew their faith wasn’t strong enough to do these things when they were wronged. I mean, after all, seven times in a day? Seems nearly impossible to do! Only faith can be that strong.
I don’t recall anywhere in my Bible where it says…
- Air your anger.
- Tell your friends and family about it.
- Let the world
know you have been wronged!
… and here is the worst thing we can do!
- Let everyone around you see your bitterness and resentment – knowing how you are supposed to be (the Light of the World)!
You all say you have faith. You all say you believe in God; believe in Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit… but do you have the faith it takes to handle those who trespass against you?
You Have Been Forgiven
People are going to say things about you; they are going to lie about you; they are going to use you for your kindness. They may even steal from you.
So, how often should we let this go on and why should we be so quick to forgive others? So, why should we be so forgiving?
Here is something Jesus said that should warn you (this is scary)…
Matthew 6:14-15 – “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But is you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
I don’t know about you, but that seems pretty scary to me! I, personally, know that is something I want… to not be forgiven by God! We’re all sinners and we know that. Who here can say that they are free from sin and don’t still sin today? I cannot and I need God’s forgiveness.
What is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness is NOT forgetting(never happened, under the tug, being a doormat, smile and take it for the glory of Jesus). I haven’t found the spot in the Bible that says “forgive and forget.”
We know all the trials we face, such as being wronged, should be lessons to us, right? God doesn’t say, “forget.” He says “forgive!”
Here is something King David told us…
Psalm 103:10-12 – “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
“According to our iniquities?” Don’t you believe that some of the things we’ve done in our past may not even deserve God’s forgiveness? I know I do. As David says, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve.” He does, however, forgive us every time we confess, ask forgiveness and repent.
Forgiveness is giving others; what God gave us. Maybe not what they deserved, the same kind of forgiveness that God gives us!
If you think you’re perfect, good for you! But, you don’t really need to come back here to this church because this church is for imperfect people.
Again, we are all sinners! But we know how we can help ourselves?
1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
We need to pray! How do we know what we have done (or haven’t done) is righteous in God’s eyes? Are you so perfect? The Gospel isn’t just receiving forgiveness, it is also granting forgiveness. Forgiveness, as a child of God, should flow through us… undeserved mercy, shared with those who do us wrong.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us also take a look at how Jesus told us we should pray.
Matthew 6:9-12 – ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
“Forgive us as we forgive others?” Really? If God did that, I don’t think we would be as free as we think we are. We know we are not nearly as forgiving as our God. Nonetheless, we should try as He would want us to.
We also should remember forgiveness is not just for the ones that have done us wrong, it’s for us too! It may not set them free from their guilt and shame, but your forgiveness will always set you free!
- It is easy to hold a grudge.
- It is easy to let the devil split-up your family.
- It is easy to remain bitter and unforgiving.
- It takes FAITH to truly forgive! (and you say you have this?)
It’s not about how much forgiveness to they deserve, but how much freedom do you deserve?
Here’s an idea, tell them this: “What you did, will no longer hold me prisoner for as God forgave me, I also, forgive you!
When is it Okay?
I’ve been talking about forgiving others; doing what God has done for you. Sometimes, when the same things just keep happening again and again; over and over; you get fed-up!
So, does God ever let us get past it? We know, if we’ve done the right thing, He forgives us. But when is it time to not set others free?!
Matthew 18:15-17 – “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
There you have it… there is your “out!” Straight from our Lord’s mouth. If you have done everything He has asked you to do and they still won’t relent, then it’s time to let go;move on; get on with life …but move on with a clear conscience! Jesus doesn’t say to stop loving them. He doesn’t say to hold a grudge. You do your forgiving and move on in life with a clear conscience.
How Will God Help?
Sometimes, we never know. Perhaps whomever you’re at odds with is praying as well. Funny right? You’re both praying but neither one of you are doing anything about the problem. Once again, continue your prayer. Never give that part up.
Let me remind you of the two brothers who were at odd with one another but still praying about the problem. Please read this story:
Pray for help with your forgiveness. You do not know if whomever has done you wrong may be doing the same thing.
Learn to recognize when God as intervened… as you know He will! When you pray for others, especially those who have done you wrong… maybe they are too… God will step in!
Watch this Lesson
Forgiving is not about how much they deserve it, but how much freedom do you deserve.
I’m a Pastor… it says so on a little card in my wallet and on a certificate hanging on my wall at home. But I am not above what I have seen posted last week and I am not criticizing any one of you.
Now, let me tell you a little story of my own resentment that your “stories” helped me get through.
The Story of Bob
I had a friend that I had loaned a considerable amount of money. He later left the company and I never saw that money back. That turned into a big financial burden to me and I resented him for it.
Just the other day, he called me out of the blue. He asked me if I wanted to stop after work for a drink or two.
Rather stunned, I thought to myself, “Sure, then I can ask you for my money back and get rid of you once and for all.”
He was running late and called me to let me know. I had become rather anxious and, actually a little nervous, about his visit. The time was coming, and the anger was just festering up inside of me.
I saw his car turn into the parking lot and that’s when “it” happened:
You know those movies when someone is having flashbacks about a bad situation that had taken place? They see pictures in their heads; like flipping from screen-to-screen, without resounding sound effects.
Well, being a Pastor, you might think God gave me images of Jesus’ betrayal; His crucifixion; or even His resurrection, right?
Nope, what I saw; what flashed in my mind, were all the nasty posts and memes I saw last week. Each one reminding me of the anger you were displaying in a public fashion.
I got it. I understood. Thank you Lord… I know what you want me to do.
When Bob walked up to me in the bar, I shook his hand and said, “Hey Bob, how are you? Let me buy you a beer.”
I have to tell you, it felt like I just shed 50 pounds. I felt good all over and we had a great time together.
I forgave Bob, can you forgive whomever you’re angry with? Give it a try. Do what God wants you to do, and see!
Thank you for reminding me; thank you for the lesson; I hope you understand mine and will re-think your anger and resentment and, instead, forgive others; release them and…. more importantly, release yourself from imprisonment!