Summary: This sermon focusing on Six of Life’s Most Important Words. These are focuses on two sets of three words which should readily flow from our lips and yet so often we forget to say them or can’t find the strength to say them.
Six of Life’s Most Important Words
Last week we started our series on the Lessons in the Game of Life. We’ll look at the lessons of life that if we follow them life just becomes that much easier. If you don’t then you will end up with less joy and more pain in life. Last week, we learned about something we have known from the time we were little children, the Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This week we’re focusing on Six of Life’s Most Important Words. These are two sets of three words which should readily flow from our lips and yet so often we forget to say them or can’t find the strength to say them.
Now I just want to see if you can guess what the first three are. I’ll give you a couple of really good hints. The first is that in a study of marriage of both couples whose marriages succeeded and those whose didn’t found that those whose marriages succeeded said these words twice as much as those whose marriages didn’t. Got it? How about another one.? The University of Michigan Heath Care System in 2002 began to instruct their physicians to say these 3 words to all of their patients in certain situations. When they did, the number of lawsuits for malpractice dropped by 50% and their legal fees declined by 2/3. Have you figured what they are yet? “I am sorry.” Those words are huge and if you are going to succeed in life, they will have to flow from your lips. Paul Meyer of Success, Inc. found that one of the most important factors determining your success in life is to admit you were wrong.
Now the Bible regularly teaches us the need to reconcile ourselves to others and God when we have offended them. It also teaches us how to do both of those things. One of those principles is that if you have offended someone then you are to go to them first and ask for forgiveness rather than wait for them to come to you. And if you are going to be asking God for forgiveness, you first need to ask for forgiveness and get right with the people in your life. The people in the New Testament tried to get a short cut. They would go and ask God for forgiveness but they would not go ask for forgiveness from the people they offended. So Jesus said to them: "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Now the gifts they were offering were animal or grain sacrifices in Jerusalem. These were atonement offerings as a way to be reconciled before God. Jesus says, before you make your offering and ask God for forgiveness, leave worship and go to be reconciled to your brother or sister because you can’t receive forgiveness from God until you do. Now the context of this is worship. When I go about my day-to-day life, it’s sometimes hard to hear the voice of God. But when you come to worship, we listen for God’s voice and it is the spirit of God which pricks our heart and all of a sudden we remember something we have done. Jesus says, when God speaks to us we are to go be reconciled to our brother or sister because you can’t receive forgiveness from God until you do. Isn’t that what we pray each week, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Who is someone the Spirit brings to mind that you need to go and ask for forgiveness or offer forgiveness?
Why do we need to ask for forgiveness? (Call someone up and give them a tote bag and say,) What happens when we offend someone is that we give them baggage. They are then forced to carry that baggage around with them which is represented by these rocks I’m putting in the bag. It may be anger or bitterness or pain but I have given that to the person I have offended and now they have to carry that around because of the things I have done against them. (Send them back to their seat with their bag and take another bag for yourself) But what also happens is that I begin to carry my own baggage around. Every time I look at that person I can tell that she is mad at me and that doesn’t feel very good. I don’t like the fact that she is mad at me. It makes me feel uncomfortable but I’m not ready to apologize quite yet. When it comes time for me to pray, I’m feeling the weight of this. How am I going to pray knowing that I have this baggage and God’s knows it too. So I begin to struggle in my own relationship with God as well. Here’s the thing: I try to go on with life pretending everything’s normal but I can still feel the weight. I can’t enjoy life quite as much and everything seems that much harder because I’m carrying that baggage due to the hurt I’ve inflicted and haven’t done anything to make amends.