JAIL BREAK (Breaking the Chains of Unforgiveness) -
Real Relationships Require Forgiveness
September 30, 2018
Ephesians 4:25-32 (p. 816)
Relationships cannot survive without forgiveness…It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about our marriage, a friendship, our family or our next door neighbor.
Forgiveness is the link that sustains relationships…or they break.
Here’s the truth…if you spend enough time with another human, that human is gonna do something stupid, inconsiderate or mean…and an even greater truth…so will you! And what they did or what you did will make one of you angry.
I remember the neighbor right across the street from me in Louisville had a dog that barked constantly…morning, noon and night…(night was my least favorite). I got along with him pretty good…we even talked about it…He put him in at night…but the neighbor who lived right beside him…was a great guy…waved occasionally but never talked to anybody…He had a UK flag up…so I liked him…but one day I hear this awful fight across the street…He’d lost it…and my neighbors were going at it…and that’s when the cops showed up. No charges…but ever time I heard Shannon’s dog bark from then on I thought, “uh-oh!” There was literally 15 feet between their driveways…and they hated each other…stared each other down if they left at the same time or were outside together…it only ended when my neighbor who owned the dog moved…I watched Kenny applaud as Shannon’s truck pulled away.
Did you know Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers because they will be called children of God?” (Matthew 5:9)
Why do you think Jesus linked making peace as a characteristic for being God’s child?
It’s because it’s our nature to get angry when someone hurts us, uses us, inconveniences us, puts their needs before us.
Don’t believe me…OK here’s a test…You’re in line at Kroger…2 people in front of you…one person behind you…and the girl in the next lane says…“I can help somebody.” And the lady behind you shoots over there like a rocket…are you happy for her? By the way…she’s shopped for the month…and you have 7 things in your cart. What!!! Uh-huh…“It’s on like Donkey Kong.”
Marriages are a struggle not to be selfish. A struggle, I promise you, at times both partners lose…especially early on when we’re used to getting our own way…and if we do not forgive and restore…that marriage will end. Even if one of you chooses not to forgive and restore…that relationship will end.
One of my favorite stories about this is about a woman who attacked her house with a fork lift…
Diane Fittipaldi, 2013 Sunset Lane, told Municipal Court Judge Levi Grantham that she had launched the attack as part of a long-standing feud with her husband about housekeeping.
“Oliver is a horrible neat freak,” Fittipaldi said, “and he drives me nuts about keeping everything tidy.”
After the couple argued about the proper alignment of table place settings, Fittipaldi rented a 3,000 pound, pneumatic tire forklift Tuesday evening and drove it through the front wall of their one-story frame house. According to neighbors who witnessed the incident, she used the machine to smash the dining room table.
“Oliver yelled at me about where his fork was supposed to go,” she said, “and I figured I’d fix it with a forklift.”
Neighbors said Fittipaldi seemed “wild-eyed” and distraught during the attack and kept screaming “FORK THIS!” at her husband, who took refuge in the kitchen.
True story…never marry a woman who knows how to operate heavy machinery…or better yet…Don’t make place settings more important than your spouse.
Our text this morning lets us know:
I. ANGER CAN GIVE THE DEVIL A FOOTHOLD
Anger isn’t a sin…it’s a warning light.
It’s the check engine light for your soul.
“In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…and do not give the devil a foothold.”
If we don’t deal with anger appropriately…quickly and honestly…we start looking for a forklift.
When anger becomes a fuse attached to dynamite instead of a warning light…relationships are destroyed by the blast…neighbors become our enemies…friends become adversaries, spouses become opponents.
Satan’s goal is to divide…to separate us from God…to destroy our marriages…to cause Church division…He looks for the opening…and then uses unresolved and unhealthy anger as a foothold.
[I remember watching the levees break in New Orleans in 2005 when Katrina hit…they were designed to protect this city from the floods…but when they gave way unimaginable destruction, filth and waste entered the city.
God has given us the emotion of anger to be the levee in our relationships…if they break.
Satan uses them to flood us with bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, and slander along with every form of malice.
So how do we obey God when the warning light flashes? How can we deal with anger and it not be a sin?
II. HEALTHY WAYS TO KEEP THE PEACE
First of all peace has to be our goal instead of war…We’ve all encountered folks that want to fight…or looking to cause conflict…people who use anger as a way of controlling others…“Man, you don’t want to get them mad.”
Those are relationships that are going to need change or separation…If that person will not change then you need separation…either temporarily or permanently…If you have to deal with that individual because of a divorce or because of work or because of them being family…guard your alone time with them…take a godly friend…don’t be baited into a war.
God’s Word says choose kindness and compassion.
Don’t expect someone who is not filled with God’s Spirit to think, act and speak like someone who is…but if you are a child of God through the gift of the Holy Spirit…Don’t grieve that Spirit within you…Through this Spirit God has placed His seal of approval on you. God gives us three healthy ways to turn anger into peace…first:
1. SPEAK THE TRUTH…DON’T LIE!
Verse 25 says, “Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to His neighbor.”
Lying about someone when we’re angry…or don’t like them is easy…it hurts them…makes other people think differently about them…slandering someone is a selfish, evil weapon.
And if someone’s done something to hurt you…the truth you should be speaking is to them…not your “crew” at Denny’s.
Speak the truth with love to your wife, to your friend, to your co-worker, to your neighbor…If you want to break out of the jail of unforgiveness…don’t speak about things that cause other people to doubt or think negatively about the one it involves.
2. THINK ABOUT THE NEEDS OF OTHERS.
It seems a little weird for Paul to throw in this statement: “Anyone who’s been stealing must steal no longer, but must work…doing something useful with their own hands, so that they can have something to share with those in need.”
People that steal make a decision that I need or want what you have more than you do…and if you’ve ever had something stolen from you…Anger is an appropriate feeling.
Stealing from someone places a sign up that says…“I want your stuff…I could care less about a relationship.”
But Jesus did something amazing in His live…He worked for others…ultimately His work on the cross paid for the sins of all “others.” He said, “I haven’t come here to be served, but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
People with a lot of wasted time on their hands seem to like to talk about others…people who use their hands for useful things so they can help others develop compassion, kindness and forgiveness like Jesus.
It’s not just stuff that can be stolen…if you speak critically or negatively about someone it can steal their witness…destroy ministries…and end relationships…some folks that haven’t dealt with anger or guilt in their own lives try to make themselves bigger by tearing others down. I’ve never met someone like this who has joy in their lives…Anger robs them of peace.
Finally if you and I want to deal with anger in a healthy way…if we want relationships that last with our mates, neighbors and friends, then:
3. SPEAK TO PEOPLE SO THEY FEEL ENCOURAGED, NOT DESTROYED
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it might benefit those who listen.”
Unwholesomeness is a unique biblical world…It’s “sapros” and it literally means “Rotten” or “putrid.”
Like gangrene in a wound means it’s rotten…unwholesome words are the gangrene of relationships.
King Solomon wrote… “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat it’s fruit.”
King Solomon and the Apostle Paul are saying the same thing…our conversations will encourage, build up, strengthen and help…or they will be destructive, cancerous, rotten…unwholesome.
Relationships are built on words…or destroyed.
Billy Beacham tells the story of a 42 year old workaholic named Tom. Tom spent every dime he earned on expensive luxuries…status symbols designed to impress himself and others with his success in life. He was a volatile human being whose temper exploded at the slightest hint of disagreement or criticism. And Tom became this way as a direct result of the angry words of his father whom he could never please. His father’s favorite phrase was, “Tom, you are a bum…you will always be a bum. You’re not going to amount to a thing…you’re a bum!”
Every time his father said it, this phrase would burn its way into the boy’s spirit so deeply that, like shrapnel embedded in flesh, the words could never be removed. Decades later, Tom still suffers from his father’s pain-causing words. He is a man driven day and night to prove that his father’s words were wrong…Ironically, even though Tom’s father is dead, he still lives his life in such a way as to prove to him that he is not a bum.
Words have tremendous power…especially when they come from someone important in our lives…
[I married Kari on June 27, 1981…my two best friends Burt and Michael were groomsmen as well as my brother Sam…my best man was my dad…I’d given my life to Christ 3 1/2 years earlier…God had restored a relationship with my father I’d almost destroyed…He had become my best friend…as we walked out to meet Kari…he stopped me…turned me to face him and said… “I’m so proud of the man you’ve become…I love you.”
I was crying so hard that Kari must have been scared I was having second thoughts…but I’ll never forget my dad’s words…some of the most life giving one’s I’ve ever heard…]
Think about what others need to hear…and give life to all those who listen…