Summary: We are looking at this from three angles today, the first angle is Freedom for your soul, freedom for the offender and accepting God’s forgiveness.

Healthy Hearts Happy Homes

Steps to Forgiveness and Healing

Sunday February 6, 2004

Intro: This series we are calling Healthy Hearts Happy Homes is focusing on the issues that are common to all people but few have real freedom in. They are issues that plague Christians and non-Christians alike.

Remember: Growth is key to life. YOU must grow as a Christian and as a person. All growth is spiritual.

I really see our church functioning as a “Growth based Church.” A church focus on helping people find the freedom that is only in Jesus Christ. It is much more than get saved and baptized. We recognize that all people have struggles, many of which actually keep people out of Church and away from the only source of real help available.

Last week we talked about being free from sin. One of the things I said last week is that there are no victimless sins. All sin, all crime has at least one victim other than the sinner. This leaves us with at least on victim with every sin. And if you’ve looked around lately, there is a lot of sinning going on in this old world. Therefore there are a lot of victims out there. People who have been sinned against and trespassed against.

How are Christians to deal with all of this trespassing? We have all had people hurt us and sin against us.

This isn’t a question of who here has been hurt, it is a question of who here needs set free from unforgiveness?

Today I am asking God for some miracles. WE need some miracles of the heart today. I want for you to really pay attention and look at your hearts today for areas that need some attention, some healing.

We are looking at this from three angles today, the first angle is Freedom for your soul, freedom for the offender, freeing God’s grace and finally how to keep your freedom.

Deep hurt leaves deep scares. Forgiveness isn’t easy. Forgiveness is hard. Especially in a long term relationship with friends, family or even work relationships that have been plagued with past troubles, tormented by fears of rejection and humiliation, and torn by suspicion and distrust.

It hurts to forgive.

It costs to forgive... We have to give up on seeing the other person punished for the terrible wrong they did to us or someone we care for deeply.

Text: Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

I. Freedom for your soul

You become imprisoned in your own unforgiveness.

a. Realize that the offense has bound you.

i. They are not suffering from what they did to you, but it is a daily thought in your mind.

Eldridge, “Paul warns us that unforgiveness and bitterness can wreck our lives and the lives of others (Hebrews 12:15) I am sorry to think of all the years my wife endured that anger and bitterness that I redirected at her from my father. As someone has said, forgiveness is setting a prisoner free and then discovering the prisoner was you.”

ii. You become imprisoned by their trespass.

iii. It is a spiritual law “When you become unforgiving you become what you hate.”

1. And innocent people are hurt.

Joseph Richardson lived in New York City. This man was a millionaire.

Mr. Richardson owned a narrow plot of land in the midst of a number of houses. This lot was only five feet wide.

He wanted to sell it to the people on either side. He determined the selling price and offered it to them. Both neighbors agreed to buy the land, but at a reduced price.

Instead of bargaining with them, he built a house on the land. He, then, moved in and set up his home. Because of his hatred for the people on either side of this small lot, he decided to ruin the look of the entire area and build this small house.

Mr. Richardson condemned himself to a life of discomfort in that house because of his hatred.

It was called, from that time on, "The Spite House."

His intention was to be a thorn in the sides of those who refused to buy the land. His anger drove him to lash out and punish them in some way. However, the only thing he really did was punish himself.

b. Admit that offenses have occurred.

A real trick of the devil is to say, “Lets play a little game of, pretend it didn’t happen.”

This isn’t Biblical – this is denial. If you say that it didn’t really matter, then there is no need for forgiveness.

i. Forgiveness is often misunderstood. It is significantly different and often confused with such things as ignoring the offense, trying to forget it and reconciliation of the relationship.

ii. Forgiveness is only appropriate when an offense has been committed and the offense has caused damage.

iii. Overcoming denial may be difficult, but it is essential.

iv. Forgiveness does not ignore the reality of an offense but, in fact, validates that the offense did indeed occur.

Eldridge, “Allow God to bring up the hurt from our past. Acknowledge that it hurt, that it mattered, and we choose to extend forgiveness... This is not saying, “It really didn’t matter”; it is not saying, “I probably deserved part of it anyway.” Forgiveness says, “It was wrong. It mattered, and I release you.”

“Grief is a form of validation; it says the wound mattered.” And “We must admit the hurt happened….”

c. Determine the damage caused by an offense.

i. When an offense occurs it creates a spiritual debt.

ii. There are offenses that have caused less injury. Greater offenses that create a greater debt need greater forgiveness.

iii. After the indebtedness has been determined the offense can be forgiven.

iv. The amount of damage is very important. No were in scripture are we instructed to minimize the sin and damage.

If you run me over with a truck, I’m not supposed to act like it’s a scratch! The emergency room physician will know some thing more happened. However, if all you do is scratch me and I act like you hit me with a truck something is wrong there too.

v. You’ve heard the expression, “Like water off a ducks back.” Or “thick skin” these are valid ways will dealing with normal everyday scratches. We don’t need to do an intervention with the cashier who isn’t very polite. Do get my point?

d. Disguises for unforgiveness:

1. Disappointment

2. Malice

3. Anger and Rage (we often take this out on innocent family members)

4. Prolonged sorrow over tragedy (Can lead to unforgiveness towards God)

a. Lisa Beamer talks about this in her book “Let’s Role” the book she wrote after her husband was killed in 911.

5. Self-righteousness

6. Victim mentality (Everyone is out to get me – My anger is everyone else’s problem. We blame instead of take responsibility.)

7. Mental instability

8. Unforgiveness can look like a virtue, in that we want justice.

a. We just want them to see our point of view.

b. “If they could just understand what this has done to me…”

c. They will not understand, they can never enter into your shoes.

Matthew 18:15 NKJV “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.

II. Freedom for the offender

This is no easy task, and we will go into detail of way it is difficult and why it is so important.

a. Choosing to forgive.

Neil Anderson, “Don’t wait to forgive until you feel like forgiving; you will never get there. Feelings take time to heal after the choice to forgive is made.”

i. “Forgive” is a financial term that simply means to cancel the debt.

ii. The person recognizes the debt as such and makes the internal personal decision to release the offender from his indebtedness.

iii. Choosing to forgive is a personal, conscious and powerful choice of the will.

iv. Choosing to release the offender from his or her indebtedness is to be like the Lord Himself.

b. Confronting the offense.

i. The confrontation is for forgiveness, it is for reconciliation

ii. It is to gain back your brother.

iii. Reconciliation and trust take two; forgiveness takes only one.

iv. The internal decision to forgive needs to be followed by the appropriate activity.

v. The Scriptures direct us to confront the offense.

Spiritual wellness is connected to our obedience to Scripture.

vi. The extent of the confrontation will depend on the circumstances.

1. Ideally it is best if the offender can be confronted directly and the issue resolved. Realistically, this does not always happen.

2. At times the injured person does not have the ability or opportunity to go to the offender directly and address the problem.

3. Overcoming the fear associated with the person and or the offense has crippled some from confronting the situation.

4. Sharing the problem with good confidants and gaining support helps tremendously.

5. Some choose to receive counseling, journal, and rehearse before going to the perpetrator. Some bring their support person with them. Finding the right opportunity and method may be very difficult. This may be the toughest season of the journey.

vii. The confrontation is about gaining your brother.

viii. Even if all attempts to reconciliation fail. You still must forgive.

c. Pay the price of forgiveness

When I saw this truth it set me back.

i. Substitution – allowing ourselves to suffer for the sin of another person. Atonement! It is what Jesus did for us.

ii. How do you get payment for things that can’t be replaced (cars, houses etc. vs. lives, feeling, )

iii. Forgiveness – you bare the cost instead of insisting on repayment.

iv. Forgiveness stops payment on any check and any debt.

v. We deliberately accept the wrong caused against us, drop all charges.

vi. Have you ever looked at it this way?

Eph 4: 31 KJV “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

III. Receive God’s Grace

• Unless you forgive God can’t forgive.

• Unless you deal with the issue, it remains hidden from the healing touch of God.

• When we decide for forgiveness, healing begins to happen.

Peter Marshal (chaplain of the Us Senate.) “Keeper of the Springs”

There was a little town at the foot of a mountain. There was a man who was the keeper of the springs. He maintained the springs supplying the city with pure cold water. One day the City counsel voted to delete his position. The water springs were abandoned and the water quickly turned foul. The council soon met again and agreed to reinstate the keeper of the spring.

The Holy Spirit is the keeper of the spring in our hearts. In our hearts we have springs and pools. If left unclean the pools and springs fill up and collect leaves and debris causing contamination that spoils the water of life.

He is the keeper of the emotional resources that water our being.

Identify the key polluter of our hearts, it is unforgiveness?

The Holy Spirit wants to lead us through the Scriptures, causing us to reconcile our hearts with the Word of God

Forgiveness proves the work of Christ active in your lives.

Keeping your freedom:

a. Develop and live life with boundaries.

b. Clear your own offenses.

i. It has been said that hurt people hurt people.

ii. Take the plank out our your own eye first.

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."

c. Seek God’s healing

i. Even after forgiveness a void remains from the offense. Something must now fill that void.

ii. To match the healing of Jesus with the inner hurt in our lives.

iii. All is vain, unless the Holy Spirit comes down.

For Example: Let’s say that someone hits your car and smashes into the side of it. But, they don’t have any insurance and no money to pay for it’s repair. In the attitude of forgiveness, you say: “I cancel your debt to me.” They are forgiven, you are no longer tied to that person (The link is the indebtedness) But what do you have? You are freed from the debtor, but you still have a smashed car. How will it get fixed?

d. Pray for your enemies

i. BIBLE: Prayer for your enemies, bless and do not curse.

ii. Lets pray for this person, who has become my enemy. How has scared me, and hurt me. Has robbed me of joy.

e. Re-imaging the past. Realizing it is there, but asking the Lord to heal it, and seeking the learning of the matter.

i. Joseph did this by forgiving his brothers. “You meant it for harm, God meant it for good.” (Not through the writer, nor a prophet, but through the heart of Joseph.)

ii. Jesus; “Father forgive them”

f. Develop Empathy –

i. Ask God to show you the good that has come out of the offense. (You may not see any good yet, but if you open your hearts to God’s healing process, good will come out of it. Even if it is only receiving comfort so that you can give comfort to others going through what you have endured.

ii. Perhaps we can try to understand what drove them to sin against us.

One man wrote about forgiving his father, when he said, “I began to think of him not as someone who deprived me of love or attention or companionship, but as someone who himself had been deprived, by his father and his mother and by the culture.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”

g. Recovery never ends

i. Forgiveness is a continual process for people (We don’t have a sea of forgetfulness)

ii. We are constantly reprocessing forgiveness

Satan is the real enemy; Not flesh and blood; Spirit of lawlessness; Hearts growing hard; Love growing cold.

Conclusion: Christ didn’t retaliate “hurled their insults at him”

“turning the other cheek, giving the coat, going the second mile.”

Give me a forgiving heart and create in me a different picture of this person. Help me to see this person as you see them. Erase all the wrong they have caused. I struggle with my feelings, but ask you to help me with these feelings.