A couple married for 15 years began having more than usual disagreements. They wanted to make their marriage work and agreed on an idea the wife had. For one month they planned to drop a slip in a "Fault" box. The boxes would provide a place to let the other know about daily irritations. The wife was diligent in her efforts and approach: "leaving the jelly top off the jar," "wet towels on the shower floor," "dirty socks not in hamper," on and on until the end of the month. After dinner, at the end of the month, they exchanged boxes. The husband reflected on what he had done wrong. Then the wife opened her box and began reading. They were all the same, the message on each slip was, "I love you!" In all her mistakes, his one reaction was I love you, evidence that forgiveness was meted out.
Is it always that easy to forgive?
Colossians 3:13 English Standard Version (ESV)
13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Does it seem at times there are somethings too difficult to forgive?
Have you ever felt that some people you have to forgive too many times?
Is there someone here too burdened by something that you just can’t forgive?
Demonstration: Okay I need to see who the strongest person in this Church is. Hand them a glass of water. Have them stretch out their hands and hold it until they can hold it no more.
Marianne Williamson says “Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.”
A. What is Forgiveness
a. Forgiveness is dismissing a debt, dismissing your demand that others owe you something.
b. Forgiveness is releasing your resentment, releasing your right to hear “I’m sorry” or your right to get even. It removes from you the weight of resentment, freeing you to live a life of joy and peace.
B. What is Not Forgiveness?
a. Forgiveness is not letting the guilty off the hook, it is moving the guilty from your hook to God’s hook.
b. Forgiveness is not based on what is fair. It was not fair for Jesus to hang on the cross, but he did so that we could be forgiven.
c. Forgiveness is not something we do for others, we do it for ourselves to get well and move on.
I want us to examine two Bible characters and the harsh things that were done to them and what each choose to do. By family memebrs because believe it or not the people who hurt you the most are your families.
The first was Joseph- Genesis 37-50
Ø Beloved Son of His father was given a Royal Robe. A coat of many colors
Ø Got a dream and his sibling interpreted as greatness
Ø They Threw him in a whole and then sold him into slavery
Ø He soon became head of Potiphar’s household, head of the Prison and soon head of Pharaoh’s house hold. Important to note in all this the Bible says the Lord was with Joseph was
Ø Expound on how difficult it was for him
Ø Then his father died and his brothers came
Ø Genesis 50: 15-20 ESV
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may [c]actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” 16 So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, 17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.” ’ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
18 Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.”
19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. 21 Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke [d]kindly to them.
2 Samuel 13: 1,2
And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her.
2 And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do anything to her.
Ø He raped his sister.
21 But when king David heard of all these things, he was very wroth. (The father was vex but did nothing)
22 And Absalom spake unto his brother Amnon neither good nor bad: for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar.
Ø Absalom got his servants to kill his brother
Ø Absalom ran away
Ø Continue the story of Absalom
Ø 2 Samuel 18:14-17
14 Then Joab said, “I cannot linger with you.” And he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through Absalom’s heart, while he was still alive in the midst of the terebinth tree. 15 And ten young men who bore Joab’s armor surrounded Absalom, and struck and killed him.
16 So Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing Israel. For Joab held back the people. 17 And they took Absalom and cast him into a large pit in the woods, and laid a very large heap of stones over him. Then all Israel fled, everyone to his tent.
Two men, tow grievous things done to them. An opportunity to forgive. Only one took it.
1. ACKNOWLEDGE THE OFFENSE
a. Don’t Minimize the Offense- Ephesians 5:11 (ESV) “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”
b. Don’t excuse the offender’s behavior- Proverbs 24:24,25 “Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the right,” will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them.
c. Don’t assume quick forgiveness is full forgiveness-
Many people bury what they have gone through and it comes up later to haunt them. Or resentment is created. You’re boiling inside about something and no one knows and no one can help. "Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured." —Mark Twain
WHAT ARE YOU MAD ABOUT?
2. BEAR WITH THE OFFENDER
It is important to note here that not because someone makes a mistake it makes them a mistake. Many marriages have fallen apart because a wrong was done and the spouse treat them like they wrong.
There are two intriguing phenomena which, in varying degrees, may occur during the litigation stage of divorce. One has been termed the “negative reconstruction of spousal identity” (Johnston & Campbell, 1988). This phenomenon is characterized by the tendency of one spouse to cast the other in a vilified image, “He’s a weak, violent drunk,” or “she’s a two faced, selfish, pathological liar who can’t be trusted.” These intensely negative, polarized characterization that high conflict divorcing couples make of each other become reified and immutable overtime. The spouse, in essence, rewrites marital history and selectively perceives only the events over the years that fit with the present negative characterization.
a. Who is the offender
i. Is it a family
ii. Is it a friend
iii. Is it a foe
iv. Is it an unfamiliar face
b. How to approach the offender
i. Seek clarity on if you were offended about what they said
ii. Don’t approach the person when you are heated- Take charge of your feelings first. If you go looking for a fight, chances are you are going to find one. If you have decided you do need to address a wrong you feel has been done to you, ensure you have let go of any intense feelings that might cloud your thinking and speaking.
iii. Avoid rushing to judgment. Share your side of the situation, but be open to hearing theirs too. Present the facts that are clear, but be careful about apportioning motive or intent. Remember that “I” statements invite, while “you” statements accuse. So tell them, “I felt hurt when you…” rather than, “You hurt me when…
iv. According to the incidence you may need to take someone with you
c. What is God’s Desire- Mark 11:25
i. Mark 11:25 “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
ii. Romans 12: 19 “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
iii. Matthew 18:21-22 “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”
The story was once shared by thepreacher.com of a black lady who once moved into a predominantly white area. Her neighbour was very mean to her, and to express her feelings, every day she threw faeces into her yard. It happened for days, weeks, and then years. But the black sister was not moved.
One day her white neighbour got a stroke, and the first person to visit her was her black neighbour with a lush bouquet of red roses. “Awe, you bought these from the local flower shop for me?”
“No,” the black neighbour replied, I grew these using all the faeces you threw in my yard.”
3. CONSCIOUSLY MOVE ON
It’s time to stop dwelling on what happened. By forgiving someone you’re promising not to bring it up again to use against him or her. If you are going to talk to someone about how the other person has hurt you, make sure this person is a professional or a wise person you can trust.
Jenn commented: Forgiving takes time. It doesn’t happen just once and it’s over with. But I am letting [God] take it from my hands and letting Him handle it. It is not my place to punish [the guy who hurt me], and I certainly don’t need to punish myself by holding on to that hurt and anger.
a. Remove self- Sometimes severing a relationship is healing. Someone might have hurt you or abused you. It is not safe to be around people. 1 Corinthians 15:33 (ESV) 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.
b. Reconsider- Don’t write off people. Someone could have hurt you in the midst of hurt. Somethings take time to restore. Philippians 4:13, 14 “ 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
c. Reconcile- Make a choice to have compassion on your violator. Look at them first, as a tragedy. In one sense they should be pitied. Bottom line is, because of their violation against you they have suffered, are suffering, and in the end will suffer far more in this life, or the one to come. We’re not making excuses for them, but we’re only saying they are pathetic, and desperately need our compassion. One way to show compassion is to pray for the person who has hurt you. Jesus said, “Pray for your enemies.” He knows it is impossible to continue to pray for someone, and still hate them. Then, while you’re praying for this person, ask for a blessing in their life. Pray that good things come to them. Wish them well.
i. While forgiveness takes one, it takes two for reconciliation. Amos 3:3 “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?”
ii. Preparing your heart to seek reconciliation
iii. Knowing that refusal to seek reconciliation affects intimacy in your relationship with God
iv. Seek forgiveness and apologise for words that have hurt the other person
v. Recognize the ground rules of communication – acceptance, confronting, listening, verbalizing, building self worth, and aiming for mutual understanding
vi. Be kind and gentle, trusting in God to work in the heart of the other person
vii. Reflecting the character of Christ in all that you do
viii. Enlisting a mediator if necessary
ix. Do not hold yourself responsible for the outcome (If negative)
x. Rest in the knowledge that you have done all you can to seek peace.
xi. Remember that Romans 12:18 says “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”
Illustration- A personal story on Forgiveness
Appeal: For your Health, For Eternity, For your achievements, For your laughter we forgive.