Summary: If we are going to have healthy relationships, we must forgive. Even more important, God wants us to forgive and the Scripture tells us why.
God’s Plan for Our Health
Part 4 - Our Relational Health: Focus on Forgiveness
Sermon by Rick Crandall
McClendon Baptist Church - July 27, 2008
*One year Dave Hagler was working as an umpire in a rec-baseball league in Boulder, Colorado. Unfortunately, Dave got pulled over for speeding one day. He tried to talk the officer out of giving him a ticket. Dave asked for leniency since it could make his insurance go up. But the officer was relentless and told Dave that he could take the matter to court if he didn’t like the ticket.
*Fast forward to the first game of the next baseball season. Dave was umpiring behind the plate when he recognized the policeman coming to bat. The officer also noticed Dave and asked how the whole ticket thing turned out. Dave simply replied, "You better swing at everything!" (1)
*That wasn’t very nice. Dave needed to show a little forgiveness. How about you? How are you getting along with the people in your life? The Lord wants us to have healthy relationships in life, but that can’t happen without forgiveness.
*But what is forgiveness? James Merritt tells us that it literally means "to let go" or "to send away." Forgiveness is when you release to the Lord any bitterness that you might feel you have a right to have toward someone else. It is the willingness to send both the offender and the offense away into the hands of God, and let God take care of the matter. Dr. Archibald Hart defines forgiveness as "giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me."
*We all need to be forgivers. Psychologists and ministers agree that forgiveness is the only cure for the cancer of bitterness. (2)
-If we are going to have healthy relationships, we must forgive. Even more important, God wants us to forgive and the Scripture tells us why.
1. Forgive, because your forgiveness spreads God’s grace to more people.
*Vs. 29 reminds us that all people need the grace of God in their lives.
-There Paul tells believers, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”
*The “corrupt communication” here or “unwholesome talk” would include any words that are rotten, putrefied, not fit for use, -- The sort of words we tend to use when we refuse to forgive someone. And the “benefit” the NIV mentions in this verse is grace. The root word for grace is “joy, good cheer.” So “grace” in general is something that brings joy, delight and good will. But most of all, “grace” is the merciful kindness of God that draws us to Jesus Christ and saves our souls.
*Everybody needs God’s grace! And your forgiveness can help share God’s grace. God wants us to live in such a way that we spread His grace to everyone around us. Can people see Jesus in us? Can they find His patience? His love? His forgiveness?
*Richard Wurmbrand spent fourteen years suffering for Christ in a Communist prison. And he told the story of one husband who was a picture of Jesus.
*This man was sentenced to death by the Communists. But before being executed, he was allowed to see his wife. His last words to his wife were, “You must know that I die loving those who kill me. They don’t know what they do, and my last request of you is to love them, too. Don’t have bitterness in your heart because they kill your beloved one. We will meet in heaven.”
*Those words greatly touched the secret police guard who sat in on the conversation between the two. That former Communist told Richard the story in prison, where he, the guard, had been sent for becoming a Christian. (3)
*Can people see Jesus in us? Do we remind people of the Savior? We will, if we forgive. We must forgive, because forgiveness spreads God’s grace to more people.
2. And because refusing to forgive gives pain to God’s Spirit.
*In vs. 30 Paul tells believers, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Refusing to forgive grieves God’s Spirit. Most of us know something about grief. Most of us have been touched by grief on some level. Grief is the reaction we have to loss. It affects us spiritually, emotionally, even physically. Grief hurts. The pain and sorrow can be intense.
*And grief isn’t just about the death of a loved one. Many types of loss bring grief:
-A marriage ends in divorce.
-A friendship falls apart.
-Someone we love moves away.
-Something we care about is stolen.
-Our first love falls for another.
-Even the loss of a pet can bring grief.