Summary: In our pursuit of godly character we must learn to forgive. We must also learn the biblical difference between frogiveness and reconciliation.

Character Counts! Forgiveness Matters

(1 John 3:16-18)

Theme: God?s character requires Him to forgive. Those seeking godly character must learn to forgive.

Purpose: What do I want to happen in the hearer when I preach this sermon?

A. Increased insight. After I preach this sermon, the hearer should be able to discern that forgiveness must be unconditional. We submit to the forgiveness process not for what it does for the offending party but for what it does for our own character.

B. Increased knowledge. After I preach this sermon, the hearer should be able to state that:

1. Forgiveness is a process?it takes times and involves a growth process.

2. The first step is to acknowledge that we have been hurt.

3. Pretending not to need others, or pretending that what others say and do to us does not hurt us is NOT forgiveness.

4. The process of forgiveness involves evaluating the hurt?did it really happen? Did it really happen the way I perceived it?

5. Perhaps the most difficult question, but the most productive to the process, is whether the anger caused is the result of a fresh wound or because the person has brushed up against an old, unhealed wound.

C. Changed attitude. After I preach this sermon, I want the hearer to determine to submit to the process of forgiveness for the sake of his or her own mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

Need to be

Surfaced: We all carry around the weight of unforgiven, unhealed wounds. These are embedded within us ready to erupt at the lightest touch. Unsuspecting brothers and sisters can set us off with little more than a normal, human foible. Such an unhealthy environment makes loving, redemptive, Christian relationships impossible.

Solution to

be Offered: God commands us to submit to the process of healing forgiveness. We must submit to it regardless of whether or not the offending person is ever reconciled to us, to the church, or to God. We submit because in so doing we are healed and we become a little more like the God we serve.

Introduction. (Get attention, surface need, make a contract to deliver a solution.)

A. Sally was bitten by a dog.

1. She went to the doctor and took the dog with her.

2. The doctor examined her and the dog.

3. ?Bad news Sally. The dog has rabies.?

4. Sally took out a piece of paper and began writing on it.

5. ?Oh no, Sally, we can treat rabies. You don?t have to make out your last will and testament.?

6. ?I?m not,? Sally replied. ?I?m making a list of all the people I?m going to bite!?

B. The burden of unresolved conflict.

1. Pain.

2. Hurt.

3. Anger.

a) Lead to deep-seated wounds.

b) Many times these remain unresolved (unhealed) for an entire lifetime.

c) These turn into bitterness, broken relationships, hatred, perhaps even murder.

C. Character Counts! - People of character must not harbor resentment, bitterness, or hatred against others.

1. People of character must submit to the process that leads to true forgiveness.

2. People of character must always allow God to be God.

I. We Must Enter the Process that Leads to True Forgiveness.

A. What true forgiveness is NOT.

1. Pretending that nothing happened.

2. Ignoring the fact that we?ve been hurt and hurt badly.

3. Learning to ?be civil? in pubic settings even though we really can?t stand to be around that certain person.

B. True forgiveness begins with honest acknowledgement.

1. ?I have been hurt.?

2. It takes humility to admit that. Why? Because we must acknowledge our own vulnerability.

a) We DO need people.

b) We DO want to be liked and accepted by others.

c) That is part of being human.

d) We cannot live our lives as islands after all!

C. The true test of character is how we handle the anger.

1. Anger is always reactive.

2. We must learn to listen to it and acknowledge it.

3. But we must never let it dictate our actions or our attitudes.

4. We must redirect it.

5. But first we must gain control over it and that takes divine intervention.

?To err is human, to forgive, divine.? Alexander Pope.

6. We must verify the hurt.

7. We must deal with the human reality that 75% of what we perceive to be direct, personal attacks on us are imaginary.

8. 75% of the baggage you are carrying around with you as unhealed wounds from past ?hurts? is based upon your own misperception of reality!

9. We must ask ourselves the hard questions:

a) Did it happen at all?

b) Did it happen the way I perceived it?

D. We must evaluate the hurt.

1. For that 25% that is based upon reality, we must ask ourselves, ?How significant is it anyway??

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