Summary: Forgiveness, Love, Christ's Example
JAIL BREAK (Breaking the Chains of Unforgiveness) - Put On the Love of Christ
September 9, 2018
Colossians 3:12-17 (p. 822)
One of my favorite books of all time is one written by a Kentucky preacher named Brian Jones…It’s called “Getting Rid of the Gorilla: Confessions on the Struggle to Forgive.
The back of the book has this paragraph:
[Living with an unforgiving heart is like living with a gorilla…the beast follows you everywhere. He squeezes marriages. He stinks up friendships. He growls at family gatherings and beats his chest at church.
An unforgiving heart ruins relationships, affecting everyone and everything you touch. Maybe you’ve tried and failed to forgive someone who’s hurt you…maybe you aren’t sure you even want to try.]
Forgiveness is the foundation of what real Christianity is all about…Forgiveness is what the cross is all about. Forgiveness is what Jesus is all about…
And yet it’s absolutely a gorilla when it enters our lives…when someone hurts us, or even worse someone we love.
Forgiveness stops being a concept and becomes a very real giant hairy reality!
Here’s the picture the Apostle paints as he writes to the Colossians…it’s a before Christ picture and an after Christ picture. The first is a life of war…and the second is a life of worship…One puts us in an emotional fail…and the other is the key to set us free.
Our text starts with a “Therefore” so what proceeds this powerful challenge is important…it’s a description of
I. A LIFE AT WAR
Most people operate in this battle zone we call life with the same weapons…Our intellect, our emotions and feelings, our physical strength, our desires, our plans. But left to our own devices, outside the influence of God…they create warfare, not peace.
It’s why we read these words
COLOSSIANS 3:5-9 (p. 822)
“Put to death” or “kill” are pretty strong words…But it requires a drastic command for me to “kill” my unforgiving, self pleasing nature…It lusts after stuff, it’s greedy, it’s impure and immoral…my nature has one god it worships…and it’s “me.”
It’s the very reason God poured out His wrath on the cross…and it’s the very reason that if you or I haven’t accepted Christ’s payment…His wrath will be poured out on us when He returns.
And one of the most important Biblical truths is found in Colossians 3:7 “You used to walk in these ways in the life you once lived.”
Our lives before Christ were a war zone. We were fighting with God’s authority…we were fighting with others who got in the way of our desires…and we could lie really well if we got caught.
Anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language flowed through our hearts and out of our mouths.
We idolized the god of “me” and our nature was to try and get everyone else to see how important this god was.
The practices of this old self were honed to a sharp edge over time…Figuratively (I hope) if you brought fists to the fight, I brought a knife…You bring a knife and I bring a gun…you bring a gun and I bring a grenade.
Let’s make it very clear…anger is a normal response when someone hurts you. It’s usually proportioned…someone is unkind to you, you want to be unkind back…someone kills your loved one…You want to kill them…both reactions are normal responses.
Ephesians 4:26 says “In your anger do not sin.” Anger is not a sin…anger is a God given feeling and emotion…anger is not a sign that you are an immature Christian. Feeling angry when you’ve been hurt is not a sign of weakness…it’s a sign you have a pulse.
Brian Jones writes:
The original Greek word the Bible uses for anger is ogre, which means to “be puffed up, swell” or “be excited.” Anger is a normal, God-given emotion. It causes us to protect ourselves. Numerous passages in the Bible seem to condemn anger, but what they’re really condemning is the behavior we display when we act on our anger, not the initial feeling of anger itself. Despite what well-meaning Christians might have told you in the past, there is something severely wrong with you if you don’t feel angry when you are hurt.
But you give full vent to your anger outside of Christ and it turns to rage, malice, slander and filthy language…and if you don’t murder them…you’ve murdered them in your heart.
Listen, none of this is easy when someone hurts you or someone you love…and in many cases doesn’t care…or keeps doing it…That person is operating under God’s wrath…outside of Christ…They still wear the old self…and we who have been raised with Christ, who have set our hearts on things above, focused on Jesus and surrounded our minds to His influence, have to choose if we put on the gorilla or the clothes of Christ.