Summary: Big Idea: God cannot heal what we do not feel. If you want to be healed of the bitterness that is stealing your joy and harming your relationships, you need to repent before you can forgive.
INTRO: So over the last few weeks I’ve listened to many of you about the challenges of forgiveness...how hard it is...but how much we all need it! Shawn and I were compiling a little list of some of the things we’ve heard....
“You made me mad. Now I have to deal with this.”
“I can’t stay where I am. I’ve been bitter and isolated too long.”
“I didn’t think I had a problem. But my ledger is full of entries with my coworkers.”
“This has been so powerful. I realized how much I need to forgive my kids. I’ve been resentful towards one of my teenagers because of harsh, disrespectful words spoken.”
“I’ve come to realize my biggest problem is that I haven’t forgiven myself. I am disappointed with me. I am bitter against myself. I resent, maybe even hate myself for what I did.”
So we’ve been talking about forgiveness...and we’ve made steps towards healing. Can we review what we’ve learned together? We’ve learned that...
Forgiving others is not reconciliation, nor is it ignoring injustice, denying we’ve been hurt or forgetting what someone did.
We choose forgiveness because we want intimacy with God more than we want justice for our offender.
Forgiveness is letting go of what’s owed, and asking God to deal with your offender.
The person benefiting most from forgiveness is not your offender, it’s you. Forgiving is not about your offender, it’s about healing your wounds.
Summary: The only path to make your heart whole again is through forgiveness.
Today - we want take some time to understand the cost of unforgiveness, as well as the cost of forgiveness. Does that sound weird? It’s true…
both forgiveness and unforgiveness will cost you something.
Both have consequences.
Today, we are going to unpack a story from one of the first relationships recorded in the bible, found in Genesis 4. What’s interesting is that only one generation into humanity, after sin enters the world...what’s the first big relational issue that is highlighted? The issue of forgiveness and the cost of bitterness.
This is the genius of the spiritual truths found in scriptures...ancient truth found in real life relationships that is still applicable to our relationships today!
So here’s a little context for Genesis 4: You might be familiar with the creation story...
God created Adam and Eve, they disobey God...believe the devil’s lie that God doesn’t want what’s best for them…
So they choose to do something other than God’s best...which is the definition of the word sin.
Now, this story is of their oldest two sons and is a lesson in the tragic consequences of unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment...and what we can learn from God’s interactions with them.
Beginning in Genesis 4:1...
Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Two brothers, the first children. Isn’t that awesome? And more than likely, based on the way it is worded in the Hebrew, they were twins! Babies are so cute when they are born. Then they grow up, and they must make choices for themselves. Sometimes those choices are good, sometimes it becomes a cautionary story.
Now, if you have been in church a long time, you probably think you know this story...Cain is the bad guy...and Abel is the innocent brother. But their Hebrew names actually indicate that Cain was one who has substance while Abel is a little vain. Here’s why that’s important - because in the stories we tell ourselves, we are the good guy, and our offender as the bad guy...which makes good fiction...not real truth.
This story, unfortunately is cautionary for us...and especially so when we realize that Cain wasn’t just a bad guy and Abel wasn’t just a good guy. So, Cain and Abel grow up and this is their story...
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Apparently, Abel was a shepherd and Cain was a farmer.
We don’t know what instructions God gave Cain and Abel about their offerings, but we do know that God was not pleased with Cain’s offering. There are lots of possible reasons it may not have been acceptable...Abel’s offering was the ‘first’, but Cain’s was just ‘some.’
Now we know, based on what Jesus told us, that it’s not our good works that make us pleasing to God, but our faith. So, what is the purpose of an offering?