Summary: Forgiveness is a choice we make. It is rooted in Christ's sacrifice and it brings freedom.
THE FREEDOM OF FORGIVENESS
The first Friday of 1982 was a day that Kevin Tunell wishes he could forget. He was at a party and had too much too much to drink. On his way home he hit and killed an 18 year old girl. He was convicted of drunk driving and spent time in jail for manslaughter. After his release he spent 7 years campaigning against drunk driving (6 more than his sentence required). Was taken to court by the family of the girl he had killed and sued for 1.5 million, but the family settled for $936. The amount was to be paid 1 dollar at a time every Friday for 18 years (in the year 2000).
The girl’s family demanded 936 payments for the crime. How many payments do YOU require? No one makes it through life free of injury. Somewhere in the past you were hurt. You were a victim like the 18 year old girl killed by the drunk driver. How many payments will you demand until “justice” is done?
Today we are concluding our series “Love Is …” and we are looking at the fact that love keeps no record of wrongs. If you are going to be a loving person, and if this is going to be a loving church, we must be people who forgive one another.
Matt. 18:21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" 22 Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 "The servant fell on his knees before him. `Be patient with me,' he begged, `and I will pay back everything.' 27 The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28 "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. `Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. 29 "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, `Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' 30 "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 "Then the master called the servant in. `You wicked servant,' he said, `I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."
1. Resenting - forgiving is a choice we make
Everyone in life gets hurt to some degree. Notice that Peter begins here by asking Jesus “how many times shall I forgive my brother WHEN he sins against me”. Not IF but WHEN.
On March 24 1989 the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef dumping more than 11 million gallons of crude oil into one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the world. Within hours petroleum blackened everything in sight including the surface of the water, the beaches and the animals. Alaska was infuriated and Exxon was humiliated. Millions of dollars went into the cleanup.
This collision, as terrible as it was takes place daily in our hearts. The collision of your heart against the reef of someone else’s actions. The result is a hole in your heart. Precious energy escapes coating the surface of your soul with a deadly film of resentment. A black layer of bitterness darkens your world, dims your sight, sours your outlook and suffocates your joy.
In the rough seas of life, reefs are everywhere. No one gets through life without running aground from time to time. While we do not have a say in WHAT is done to us in life, we do have a say in WHAT WE DO with our pain. Like the family of the girl who was killed, we each must decide – will I forgive. How many payments will I demand? The normal response to attack is to fight back and get angry. It is a decision we make. Do I put out the fire or heat it up? Do I release it or resent it? Do I get over it or get even? Resentment is when you let your hurt turn to hate. It is nursing an offense until it becomes a grudge.