Summary: We live in a world that is hurting deeply. Relationships go sour, anger becomes the norm, and many live in a constant state of frustration. How can we live in a broken world and still have peace?

Purpose: To show why forgiving others is important.

Aim: I want the listener to know how to forgive others and then do it.

INTRODUCTION: We live in a world that is hurting deeply. Relationships go sour, anger becomes the norm, and many live in a constant state of frustration. Jesus, on the other hand, said: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NAU)

How can we live in a broken world and still have peace?

“Kenneth Hart, a psychology professor at the University of Windsor (Ontario, Canada), studied sixty-six recovering alcoholics. The individuals had one thing in common: They were all angry with someone. Teaching forgiveness, Hart found, is one way to break the cycle that causes recovering alcoholics to relapse. If they release their anger through forgiveness, they no longer have a reason to use alcohol as an escape. One of the former addicts said, "Forgiveness is more for yourself than for the person you’re forgiving. For me to forgive that person sets me free."

"This therapy of freedom through forgiveness is totally biblical. God is free to love us because He has forgiven our sins committed against Him. God’s anger toward sin has been propitiated (turned away) by the death of Christ (1 John 2:2). Paul writes that we should forgive one another as God has forgiven us. Think how the world (your world) would change if all personal anger were immediately released through forgiveness." [From an email from David Jeremiah Nov. 20, 2008 ]

➽I. How Important is Forgiveness?

Why would someone refuse to forgive? Unforgiveness feels good. It gives us a sense of power and superiority. It releases adrenalin which gives us extra strength and a heighten sense of awareness. The problem is that God did not design our bodies to sustain that kind of intensity for long periods of time.

➽A. Unforgiveness hurts our bodies

“Unforgiveness has been framed as a stress reaction (Worthington & Scherer,2004). The negative health consequences of chronic stress and the physiological wear and tear of a hyperaroused stress response have been observed in traumatized populations and in people who have endured extreme and/or chronic stressors.

“The results [of the study] have been mixed (e.g., Futterman, Kemeny, Shapiro, & Fahey, 1994) but generally support the idea that positive affect enhances and negative affect compromises immune functioning (e.g., Labott, Ahleman, Wolever, & Martin, 1990).” [“Handbook on Forgiveness” by Alex H. S. Harris & Carl E. Thoresen P.322]

Unforgiveness is the act of drinking poison and hoping someone else dies. Perhaps a lot of our misery is self-inflicted. Matthew 18:34-35 34 “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” (NAU)

Paul told us: Romans 8:6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, (NAU) Today we going to learn that we can choose which one we want: death or life.

➽B. Unforgiveness strains our relationships

Hebrews 12:15-16 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. (NAU)

Esau passed up an opportunity to have a future blessing from his father for the immediate pleasure of a meal. Later he passed up an opportunity to forgive his brother Jacob for stealing his birthright so he could embrace bitterness for many years. Genesis 27:41 So Esau bore a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him; and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” (NAU)

Unforgiveness not only ruins any chance of having a good relationship with the person who offended you, it also affects all of your other relationships. You will be less happy so you will be less fun to be around. You are more likely to become cynical and untrusting of others around you, and that will push people away from you and that will make you more cynical and untrusting. Bitterness WILL eventually poison the atmosphere around us.

➽C. Unforgiveness dampens our fellowship with Christ

Luke 6:37 … pardon, and you will be pardoned. (NAU)

Charles Spurgeon said: “ What riches of grace does free forgiveness exhibit! To forgive at all, to forgive fully, to forgive freely, to forgive ever! Here is a constellation of wonders, and when I think of how great my sins were, how dear were the precious drops which cleansed me from them, I am in a maze of wondering, worshipping affection. I bow before the throne which absolves me; I clasp the cross which delivers me; I serve henceforth the Incarnate God through whom I am this day a pardoned soul.” [Spurgeon, R. C. H. (2000). Daily Help (electronic ed.) (187). Escondito, California: Ephesians Four Group.]

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