WHY SHOULD I FORGIVE?
1. An army recruit was assigned to the paratroopers’ outfit. The instructor explained the operation of parachutes and the fundamentals of skydiving to the recruits.
2. He included a lot of terminology, such as: “Jumpmaster, Air speed, rip cord, base jump, heading, main Parachute, slot, drop zone, terminal velocity, wave off”, etc.
3. When he got all finished, he asked if there were any questions. One recruit raised his hand and asked, "What happens if the parachute doesn't open?"
4. The instructor answered, "That, Private, is what is known as "Jumping to a Conclusion!"
1. Her name was 66730, or at least that was the name she went by. Her father had died in a German Concentration camp as did her sister.
2. Her freedom, her dignity, her humanity had been stripped away by those who imprisoned her and yet she survived. They had robbed her of everything she ever possessed but they couldn’t rob her of the one who possessed her, Jesus.
3. She saw every day in Ravensbruck as a chance to minister to someone more needy then herself. And then one day she was released. As suddenly as she had become a prisoner she was free and her solitary aim was to minister to others.
4. When the war was over she began traveling and speaking sharing her Savior and the vision that He had given her. And then one day, something happened, something that shook her to the very center of her being.
5. You probably wouldn’t know her as 66730, you would be more apt to know her as Corrie ten Boom. She writes,
6. "It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck.
7. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. Suddenly it was all there, the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsy’s pain blanched face.
8. He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. "How grateful I am for your message Fraulein," he said. "To think, as you say, He has washed my sins away!"
9. His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendall the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
10. Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man: was I going to ask for more? “Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.”
11. I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. “Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness.”
12. As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
13. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that this world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself."
C. NOBODY THINKS THEY HAVE UNFORGIVENESS
1. Whether it is a blind spot, a quirk of human nature, or self-deception, almost no one thinks they're unforgiving. But we probably ALL have some unforgiveness.
2. YOU CAN TELL YOU’RE NOT FORGIVING WHEN:
a. You avoid eye contact or speaking to a person;
b. You choose an alternate route to walk when you see them at Wal-Mart or Kroger.
c. You keep bringing up what that person did, though it was a year or more ago.
3. Like the woman who testified, "I’m so glad I got religion. I have an uncle I used to hate so much I vowed I’d never go to his funeral. But now, why, I’d be happy to go to it any time."
I. WHY SHOULD I FORGIVE?
A. WE’RE COMMANDED TO IN SCRIPTURE
“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” Lk. 17:3-4.
B. IT GIVES THE DEVIL A STRONGHOLD IN YOUR LIFE
1. 26 And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Eph. 4:26-27,31-32, New Living Trans.
2. Christianity Today cover story entitled, “The Forgiveness Factor: Social Scientist discover the power of a Christian virtue” (January 10,2000). Researchers discovered the importance of forgiveness. Most interesting conclusion: the one who does the forgiving is the one who benefited the most.
C. OUR RELATIONSHIP TO GOD IS AFFECTED
1. What are the consequences of an unforgiving spirit? Jesus taught us that, “14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” Mt. 6:14-15. And if we still have unconfessed sin, it separates between us and God (Isa. 59:2).
2. General Oglethorpe once said to John Wesley, “I never forgive and I never forget,” to which Wesley replied, “Then, sir, I hope you never sin.” Because we all sin, we all need forgiveness and we all need to forgive, just as God in Christ has forgiven us.
3. Jesus said that forgiving others is so important that if you are worshiping God when you remember that your brother has something against you, you should first go be reconciled to your brother and then come back to worship God (Matt. 5:23-24).
4. UNBLOCKING YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO CHRIST
I heard a knock I know, I said, "Lord Jesus, do Come in."
Said He, "The door is locked." It was & so I turned the key.
He turned the handle, light appeared. "There’s something against the door!"
"It will not move!" He said. I saw, a bundle on the floor.
Unraveling it I found a hurt, that’d festered far too long;
Unforgiveness had grown ugly, evil becoming my own wrong
I pushed it back, flung wide the door & light came streaming in. Jesus stepped inside, hugged me tight & greeted me again.
(Rewrite of Jane Emerson poem)
D. OUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH IS AFFECTED
1. The law of spiritual growth says that everyone grows in their spiritual life to their own personal point of disobedience. 2. The addendum is, “You’ll never grow in your spiritual walk beyond your unforgiveness.”
3. Our witnessing, our giving, and our overall spiritual growth are terribly weakened by a heart that carries bitterness.
E. WE ARE PHYSICALLY AFFECTED
Unforgiveness causes stress, anxiety, resentment, and physical illness.
F. OUR RELATIONSHIPS ARE AFFECTED
1. Finally, because others don’t enjoy being around bitter people, our relationships are poisoned.
2. A Chinese proverb says "Before starting down the road to revenge dig two graves." You don’t just hurt the other person you hurt your own life & relationships too.
II. THEIR SIN IS SOOOO BAD!
PART OF OUR RELUCTANCE TO FORGIVE IS BECAUSE WE DON’T CONSIDER OUR OWN SIN TO BE THAT BAD. IT’S THE STORY OF THE 2 SERVANTS, ONE WHO OWED A LITTLE & THE OTHER OWED A LOT.
A. PARABLE OF THE 2 DEBTORS, MT. 18:21-35
A King called in “a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.” 28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
B. THE PARABLE APPLIED
1. The KING -- represents ‘God.’
FIRST SERVANT represents ‘us.’
"TAKE ACCOUNT" -- called into judgment; all recorded.
"DEBTS" = our sins.
a. Our debt/sin against God -- enormous.
b. Other’s debts/sins against us -- small debts.
2. CONSIDER THE GREAT DEBT GOD FORGAVE YOU!
a. "Our Sins Forgiven" = $52,800,000! (10,000 talents). This is an enormous debt that we couldn’t pay.
b. "Sins against each other" = $17 (100 pence). This represents only a few dollars.
3. If God has forgiven us such a monstrous debt, then it's only natural we would forgive a small debt.
C. HOW IS MY SIN SO BAD?
1. Imagine sitting in a movie theater. The theater is packed and the show is about to begin. Then you discover that this movie is the unedited, undeleted story of your entire life!
2. The sound track will contain everything that you have ever said. In fact, the movie will project everything you have ever thought, including all of the things you would have liked to have done if you thought you could have gotten away with it.
3. Every one of us is relieved that such a movie of us does not exist! But, God has that movie! His forgiveness means that He tosses it in the depths of the sea. Having been forgiven that much, He commands us to forgive others for their lesser sins against us (Matt. 18:21-35). (Jay Adams, pp. 5-6)
4. The angels don’t cry “Love, Love, Love!” but “Holy, Holy, Holy!” Holiness is God’s chief characteristic! Isaiah said that “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” Isa. 64:6.
III. WHY I CAN’T FORGIVE THEM!
A. “I’VE BEEN HURT TOO DEEPLY”
1. The deeper you have been hurt, the more difficult it is truly to forgive. Some of you were abused emotionally, physically, or sexually as children by your parents or by trusted family members.
2. Some of you have children who were abused by your mate or by a family member. Some have been betrayed by an unfaithful spouse whom you loved and cared for deeply.
3. So serious, you might say, “I’ve been hurt too deeply to forgive!”
B. “THEY’VE NEVER ADMITTED WRONG”
1. DISTINCTION: THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GRANTING FORGIVENESS AND RE-ESTABLISHING TRUST. You may have to keep your distance from them.
2. ALSO, FORGIVING DOESN’T MEAN YOU FORGET. Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, was once reminded of an especially cruel thing someone had done to her years before. JESUS UNILATERALLY FORGAVE!
3. But Miss Barton did not seem to recall it. “Don’t you remember it?” her friend asked. “No,” said Miss Barton, “I distinctly remember forgetting it.”
4. God’s “forgetting” doesn’t mean He has amnesia, it means He won’t bring the forgiven sin into Judgment. We’ve forgiven when we no longer wish they would suffer for what they did to us!
C. “THEY HAVEN’T PAID FOR THEIR SIN!”
1. “I CAN’T FORGIVE THEM BECAUSE THEY WILL NEVER SUFFER FOR WHAT THEY DID.” YES YOU CAN.
2. SOMEONE DID SUFFER FOR WHAT THEY DID: JESUS SUFFERED FOR IT! GOD PUT ALL SIN ON HIM AND METED OUT THE FULL PENALTY ON HIM.
3. Jesus paid for our sin to the last drop of His blood, the most ghastly pain any human ever experienced, and the most hideous & vile universe of sin ever imagined!
4. JESUS PAID IT ALL!
A. ILLUSTRATION: LEONARDO DA VINCI’S UNFORGIVENESS
1. Leonardo Da Vinci, just before starting on the "Last Supper" had a violent argument with a fellow painter.
2. Leonardo was so bitter that he determined to paint the face of his enemy, the other artist, into the face of Judas, and thus take his revenge.
3. The worst thing about it was that everyone could easily recognize it as the face of the painter with whom he had quarreled.
4. But when he came to paint the face of Christ, he could make no progress. Something seemed to be baffle him, hold him back, frustrate his best efforts.
5. Finally he came to the conclusion that the thing that was frustrating him was that he had painted the face of his enemy onto the face of Judas. He decided to forgive and not take revenge.
6. So he painted out the face of Judas and put a criminal in his place. Then he able to paint the face of Jesus with such realism that it stands acclaimed even today!
7. THE POINT IS: WE CAN’T LIVE OUT THE LIFE OF JESUS IF WE HAVE UNFORGIVENESS!
B. THE CALL
1. An attorney decided to cancel the debts of all his clients that had owed him money for more than six months. He sent seventeen debt-canceling letters via certified mail.
2. One by one, the letters began to return, unsigned and undelivered. 16 of 17 letters came back because the clients refused to sign for and open the envelopes, fearing that this attorney was suing them for their debts.
3. How profound! We owe a debt for our sin and God is willing to cancel it, but many people won’t open the letter that announces it. Will you? [Rick McCarley]
[This message was influenced by messages by Denn Guptil and Steven Cole on forgiveness.]