Summary: Our God is ready, willing and able to forgive us because He loves us!
Did you hear about the guy who received his paycheck and the amount was $100 too much. The next week they corrected it and took out $100. So he went to the Payroll office and complained about them making errors. They said, "You didn’t complain last week." The man quickly replied, "Well yeah, I can tolerate one mistake, but it’s getting to be a habit!"
Today I want you to consider the importance of this next Attribute of Our Awesome God. This is an attribute that we all need to experience and understand.
The result of living a life without this attribute is a life of bondage. The bondage that results from not understanding and experiencing this attribute can and will stifle a person’s ability to love and to receive love.
A lack of this attribute will stunt the growth of our marriages and friendships and our relationship with God.
It will keep us from being able to enjoy the salvation that God wants us to experience. It will keep us from enjoying the abundant life that Jesus promised to those who believe Him (John 10:10).
Today I want us to look at forgiveness. God is a God of forgiveness.
How many times have you heard people tell you that God could not possible forgive them for their past? They are in bondage to guilt. They let their guilt tear them apart.
If we have done something to another person and we wanted forgiveness and have not received it, it can make us fell terrible.
How many times have you met people who are unwilling to forgive people for what they have done? I have found that unforgiving people are generally bitter people who are in bondage to their own anger.
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!”
It is God’s desire that you be free from the bondage of guilt and sin. God does not offer limited forgiveness, but total and complete forgiveness. God is a God of forgiveness.
I. WHAT IS FORGIVENESS?
There are a lot of misconceptions about forgiveness so it would helpful for us to look at:
A. What forgiveness does not mean!
1. It did not matter. If someone has hurt you or if you committed a sin, it does matter. We cannot justify our sin or say that it does not matter to God.
Forgiveness does not mean
2. I will get over it in time. Over time you may forget about your sin or the wrong that you committed against another, but the effects last forever. If you have sinned against God (which we all have), the effects will last forever.
We can think that just because we do not feel an immediate consequence to our sin that God has overlooked it, but the consequences still remain.
When another person wrongs us we may think that time will heal. Forgiveness is more than time healing. At a convention with their wives, two businessmen who had been roommates in college crossed paths. They sat in the lobby all night talking. They knew they would be in trouble with their wives. The next day they happened to see each other. "What did your wife think?" "I walked in the door and my wife got historical." "Don’t you mean hysterical?" "No, historical. She told me everything I ever did wrong."
Forgiveness does not mean
3. There will be no consequences. Many times we feel that if we are forgiven that there will be no consequence to pay. For instance if a person robs a bank and then the bank forgives them, they will still have to suffer the penalty for robbing the bank.
B. Charles Stanley says that forgiveness involves three elements.
1. An injury. A wrong is committed. Pain, hurt, suffering or guilt is experienced.
2. A debt resulting from the injury. There is a consequence that is always detrimental and puts someone into a deficit state of some kind. Physical pain, mental anguish, guilt.