Summary: The first step to having love and harmony in your family is to get "past your past." In other words you’ve got to be able to forgive and move on. Here are 5 steps to forgiveness. . . *HANDOUT INCLUDED*

Living With Your Family Without Losing Your Mind

Let me take a little survey: How many of you have had conflict with members of your family?

Families are wonderful. . . but they can really be a pain to live with. Words get said, people get hurt and before you know it, you feel like the comedian who said:

“Who can ever forget Winston Churchill’s immortal words: "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills." It sounds exactly like our family vacation.” (Robert Orben)

Even when really do love the other person, we try to show it in a way that they don’t understand, and people get hurt:

“To prove his love for her, he swam the deepest river, crossed the widest desert and climbed the highest mountain. She divorced him. He was never home.” (Rose Sands, The Saturday Evening Post. )

If you’re a teen here, you might know how this guys feels:

In 1978, Thomas Hansen of Boulder Colorado, sued his parents for $350,000 on grounds of "malpractice of parenting." His lawsuit claimed that Mom and Dad had botched his upbringing so badly, that he would need years of costly psychiatric treatment.

So this month, I’m preaching a series called “How to Live With Your Family Without Losing Your Mind”

How to Overcome Past Hurts in Your Family

There’s not a single one of us here that has not been hurt at sometime by someone in our family. It might be something very small:

- You were the brunt of a family joke.

- You were criticized.

It might be something from the past:

- You’ve been made to feel inferior your whole life.

- Your parents were abusive.

- Your parents loved their drugs more than they loved you.

It might be something from the present:

- He can’t let you be right.

- She can’t let you forget.

- He won’t take responsibility.

- He stays out late, forsaking his family.

- She spends without thinking of everyone else.

It might be something very serious:

- One partner had an affair.

- One family member has been abusive.

It seems like with all the blended family relationships these days (divorces, remarriages, stepchildren, his/hers/ours children) that there’s even more opportunity for hurt and bitterness!

Here’s the statement you’ve got to remember:

The only way to get over past hurts is to forgive.

During a children’s sermon one Sunday morning, I held up an ugly-looking summer shirt that I wore occasionally around the house. I explained to the children that someone said the shirt was ugly and should be thrown away.

"This really hurt me," I explained. "I’m having trouble forgiving the person who said those mean things. Do you think I should forgive that person?" I asked the children. Immediately, my six-year-old daughter, Alicia, raised her hand. "Yes, you should," she said without hesitation. "But why? The person hurt my feelings," I responded.

To which Alicia wisely answered, "Because you’re married to her."

SOURCE: Glenn E. Schaeffer, Christian Reader ("Kids of the Kingdom" September/October 1997)

3 things I want you to believe:

1. No matter how much there is to forgive, there is hope for your family.

Luke 7:41-43 Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people--$5,000 to one and $500 to the other. But neither of them could pay him back, so he freely forgave them both! Which do you suppose loved him most after that?”

“I suppose the one who had owed him the most,’’ Simon answered. “You have judged correctly,” Jesus answered. “ whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."

The implication of this story is clear: Your family bond and family love can be stronger than ever if we will practice forgiveness!

2. Trying to get back at the other person will not satisfy you.

Proverbs 20:22 Do not say, "I will pay back evil"; Wait for the LORD, and He will save you.

3. If you won’t forgive others, God can’t forgive you.

Matthew 6:14-15 "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

George Herbert said, “He who cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass.” (T. T. Crabtree. Ed. The Zondervan 2001 Pastor’s Annual. Howard S. Kalb. “Forgiveness.” Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2001, p. 306).

4 steps to forgiveness:

1. Give up your right to get even or punish.

Romans 12:19 “Do not take revenge, my friends. . . for it is written, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.’” (NIV)

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