Summary: This is a sermon about the dangers of un-forgiveness and why we should forgive others. Feel free to use my personal story that is in this sermon.
There was a married couple that had many disagreements and heated arguments, but somehow the wife always stayed cool, calm and collected. One day her husband brought this to light and stated “When I get mad you, how come you never fight back, how do you control your anger so well?”
The wife said: “Easy I work it off by cleaning the toilet.”
The husband asked: “How does that help?”
She said: “It’s pretty simple really, I just use your toothbrush!”
Our subject today is forgiveness. How many times must I forgive someone who has hurt me, abused me, or exploited me? That is Peter’s question. How many times? Would seven times be enough? Peter thought that he was being generous. After all, the rabbis of his day taught that only three times were required. They said, “Forgive three times, but not the fourth.” Peter was taking what the rabbis commanded, multiplying it by two, and adding one more for good measure! Seven times, Peter thought, should be plenty enough forgiveness.
But it was not enough for Jesus. In answer to how many times we should forgive Jesus said, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.” I know what some of you are thinking, 490 times then at 491 POW Straight to the moon, No that’s not what he means. What Jesus is saying is that forgiveness is limitless.
I think that sometimes we miss the point that Jesus was making. The point that Jesus was trying to make is that there should be no limit to our forgiveness. You see forgiveness is at the heart of our Christian faith. We aren’t supposed to hold grudges, carry resentments or harbor bitterness. It’s a tough teaching, but it is one of the most important teachings that Jesus gave us. Forgiveness is at the center of everything we believe about Christ. Our salvation revolves around the fact that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and with that death we are able to receive forgiveness for whatever it is we have done.
One of the first things we need to realize is that refusing to forgive has terrible consequences. Have you ever thought about what happens when we refuse to forgive? When we refuse to forgive we keep that issue or problem inside, to refuse to forgive is to choose to carry around those feelings of bitterness, resentment, and hate. Why would anybody want to carry that garbage around? Why would we do that to ourselves?
Someone once said that harboring resentments is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Someone else has said that letting hatred simmer within us, eating at our emotions and our body, is like burning down our house to get rid of rats. Why would you want to carry these feelings around all your life, usually we sit and stew and roll it over in our minds and the other person is out dancing and having a good time. When we refuse to forgive, who do we hurt most of all? Ourselves!!
Ever hear of the famous Brink’s robbery? It happened in Boston, Massachusetts in January 1950. The robbery netted nearly $3 million, an extraordinary amount of money in those days. Do you know how the robbers were finally caught? Some of the guys involved and had a falling out. Eleven days before the statute of limitations was to expire on the robbery, one of the robbers confessed and turned states evidence. His motive? Anger, he was mad and wanted revenge. The other members of the gang had let him down and this was his way of payback.
Eleven days before the statute of limitations was to expire! Boy, I guess he showed them. Of course, he was punished right along with his buddies, he didn’t stay in jail as long but he still spent 4 years in prison. Why? He couldn’t forgive, he couldn’t let it go.
When we carry anger and resentment toward someone else, who do we really hurt? The person we really hurt is ourselves. “We need to learn to forgive not merely to fulfill some higher law of morality; we need to forgive in order to gain peace and joy for ourselves.
I was raised by my mother and stepfather, for whatever reason I never heard much from my real dad he never called, never came around, didn’t pay child support, no Christmas visits, no holidays, no birthdays, nothing at all. So you see Jeff wasn’t really my dad at all, I really didn’t even know him. So at the ripe old age of 12 I was adopted by my stepfather. Before the adoption hearing I spent two weeks with Jeff and my family in Monroe, most of my time spent there was with my grandmother and my stepmother and stepbrother because Jeff was always at work. The adoption hearing was scheduled and Jeff and my stepmom came to the hearing and the adoption went through, and I never saw or heard from Jeff again until much later in my life. I built walls brick by brick, board by board of resentment, anger, and solitude. Because I couldn’t let go of the fact that I wasn’t loved by my father, any young boy might have had these feelings. I kept my feelings bottled up I kept that spirit of forgiveness with me through my teen years. It caused me to be a loner an angry teenager that seemed to give no love because I didn’t want to face the disappointment of loving and receiving none in return. I had burdens and responsibilities on my shoulders as a teenager that no one should have to bare let alone a teenager, and all the while forgiveness and everything attached to it simmered away inside.