Summary: A final sermon in the "Lose the weight of ..." series. This message looks at what forgiveness is and what it isn’t. A tough message for those dealing with forgiveness issues, but a challenging one for those seeking spiritual health.
Lose the weight of unforgiveness
Purpose: To illustrate the destructive nature of unforgiveness and to give opportunity to forgive.
1. This month we’re trying to lose the weight. Hebrews 12:1, "Let us throw off everything that hinders."
2. (I started this message with a personal story of friends of ours who went through a divorce. The divorced couple stayed in the same church. They shared custody of two children. The husband’s parents were so bound in unforgiveness, that when challenged by the pastor, the divorced man’s mother said, "You don’t know what she did. If it sends me to Hell, I’ll never forgive her." This illustration was a personal one. I would suggest you start this message with a personal illustration of unforgiveness.
3. Let’s look this morning at "Losing the weight of unforgiveness."
4. Matthew 18:21-35.
1. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you forget.
· "Forgive and forget" just rolls off the tongue and we feel that if we truly forgive someone that we have to forget the incident.
· Psalm 103:12 "East and west can never meet. This is a symbolic portrait of God’s forgiveness—when he forgives our sin, he separates it from us and doesn’t even remember it. We need never wallow in the past, for God forgives and forgets. We tend to dredge up the ugly past, but God has wiped our record clean. ***If we are to follow God, we must model his forgiveness. When we forgive another, we must also forget the sin. Otherwise, we have not truly forgiven." (Life Application Bible)
· That’s a wonderful thought, but that’s not what the Scripture says. The Scripture says that God remembers our sin no more, therefore doesn’t hold it against us any more. I’ve never seen in the Word that it says that human forgiveness results in our forgetfulness.
· Cut that guilt loose. Our brains don’t blindly forget painful experiences.
2. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you’ll trust again easily.
· There is no directive in the Scripture to be gullible. While we can’t bear a grudge, we can certainly learn from past behavior and use the common sense God gave us.
· In this parable, the ruler didn’t stop the forgiven man on the way out of the throne room and say, "By the way, pal, do you need any extra cash." The man had proven that he couldn’t handle money.
· I give Scott Cherry $100 to go pick up pizzas for a big children’s rally and he goes and buys lottery tickets with the money. Can I forgive him? Yes. Will I send somebody else next time to pick up the pizzas? YES!
· Trust is difficult to rebuild. It must be earned, even when there is forgiveness. (A parent giving their teenager a little "leash" with which to prove their trustworthiness. When they prove they can handle the leash they have, they get more. When they prove they can’t handle it, they’re drawn back in a little closer)
3. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you’re to be a doormat.
· The parable doesn’t end with a final verse that says, “And from that day forward the King gave away his money to anyone who wanted it. Day after day people lined up for cash. He just couldn’t say no. He never demanded repayment and couldn’t have been happier about going completely broke.”
· Jesus commands that we forgive 70 times 7 times. That is possible. But the Word also teaches (Proverbs) to be a people of wisdom. Use your brain.
· Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek. We should do that figuratively and literally. But He doesn’t command us to follow the guy asking for more blows.
4. Good Christian people live under the weight of unforgiveness for decades. They feel the weight of it every day spiritually, emotionally and physically. The teaching of Jesus points out that we’ve been forgiven a Mt. Everest-sized life of sin. How are we to hold Mold Hill-sized sins against others?
· "Rich, you’ve got no idea what you’re talking about. You don’t know what I’ve gone through. You don’t know what this person did to me."
· Maybe. I’ve just told you what forgiveness isn’t.
5. Here are a few things that forgiveness is.
· Forgiveness is hard.
· There are some here this morning that have been hurt deeply. We’re not talking about misunderstandings. We’re not talking about petty family disputes. We’re talking deep, ugly, horrible hurts. "Forgive and forget" just doesn’t cut it.
· So when Christians struggle with forgiveness, there is usually a lot of guilt that comes along with how hard it really is. God said we must forgive because he has forgiven us. It wasn’t easy for God (it cost the blood of Jesus), so why do we assume it should be easy for us?