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Summary: Unforgiveness is like a prison, where you do time for someone else's crime. Don't let it spoil your joy and your life.

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Last in the series of Jesus takes away - looking at some of the messes Jesus cleans up in our lives. Today's is a biggie - unforgiveness

Unforgiveness is choosing to stay trapped in a jail cell of bitterness, serving time for someone else’s crime

Unforgiveness is like drinking poison yourself and waiting for the other person to die.

Cortney Sargent: Unforgiveness is not a loner. It brings its friends along for the ride. If you allow unforgiveness to settle, dwell, and remain

in your heart, you will experience strife, hatred, anger, bitterness, jealousy, and resentment—all of which hardens your heart toward God.

Joyce Meyer: Many people ruin their health and their lives by taking the poison of bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness. Matthew 18:23-35 tells us that if we do not forgive people, we get turned over to the torturers. If you have a problem in this area or have ever had one, I’m sure you bear witness with what I’m saying. It’s torture to have hateful thoughts toward another person rolling around inside your head.

Three things define unforgiveness

Revenge - I'm going to get even

Resentment - I'm going to stay angry

Remembering - I'll never forget

Hebrews 12:14-15 warns, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root rises up to cause trouble and defile many.” Similarly, 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 warns that unforgiveness can be an opening for Satan to derail us.

So unforgiveness makes us bitter, defiles us, opens us up to Satan derailing us, acts like a poison and is a jail cell, doing time for someone else's crime.

When you have been hurt by someone else, we naturally want revenge, to get even, we are resentful and it's hard to forget

Eph 4:32 simply says "Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you."

The truth is that people choose to be unforgiving—it is a deliberate decision and a self-inflicted pain. We carry the illusion that other people have caused our misery, but in reality, we have elected to take on a form of self-imposed bondage. It is a spiritual “acid” that eats through the spirit within us. Few people realize the terrible effects of unforgiveness.

Unforgiveness is a chronic anxiety...According to Dr. Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, refusing to forgive makes people sick and keeps them that way.

With that in mind, forgiveness therapy is now being used to help treat diseases, such as cancer.

"It's important to treat emotional wounds or disorders because they really can hinder someone's reactions to the treatments, even someone's willingness to pursue treatment," Standiford explained. Of all cancer patients, 61 percent have forgiveness issues, and of those, more than half are severe, according to research by Dr. Michael Barry, a pastor and the author of the book, The Forgiveness Project.

"Harboring these negative emotions, this anger and hatred, creates a state of chronic anxiety," he said.

"Chronic anxiety very predictably produces excess adrenaline and cortisol, which deplete the production of natural killer cells, which is your body's foot soldier in the fight against cancer," he explained.

Is that enough reasons why we need to forgive others?

Corrie ten Boom was an amazing Dutch Christian who during the War hid Jews from the Nazis. And she was caught and arrested, as was her father and her sister, and they were taken to concentration camps. Her father died, and her sister Betsie, who went with her to Ravensbrück, died also in that concentration camp. But amazingly Corrie survived. And after the War she went round just talking about forgiveness, this message of forgiveness.

One time in 1947 she was in a church in Munich. And when she finished her talk, this man came up to her, and she recognised him as one of the guards in Ravensbrück concentration camp. He didn’t recognise her, but she recognised him, and she could remember his cruelty. And he came up to her and he said, ‘Thank you for your message, wonderful message about forgiveness. I have become a Christian, and I know that God has forgiven me. I want to know that you forgive me.’ And he stuck out his hand and said, ‘Shake my hand as a sign that you’ve forgiven me.’ And Corrie said she just – all the memories of her sister dying, his cruelty, came back into her head. She wrote this:

‘I stood there and I could not. Betsie had died in that place. Could he erase her slow, terrible death simply for the asking? It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I’d ever had to do. I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion – I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. “Jesus, help me,” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand – I can do that much. You supply the feeling.”’

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