Summary: In this second sermon on Forgiveness, we see in the Scriptures the example of how God works that miracle of Forgiveness in people’s hearts.
“Total Forgiveness- Part 2”
Text: Genesis 45:4-11
In the name of our Loving God, who Totally Forgives us ALL of our sins, Dear friends in Christ. As promised last week, we’re going to continue our examination of that all important doctrine of Forgiveness. But before we get into our continuing discussion, let me clear something up. After the last sermon, someone said to me, “You know, so-and-so REALLY needs to hear that sermon.” And I believe you’re right. But listen to me closely. SO DO YOU!! Don’t just think that it’s the OTHER person who needs to learn how to Forgive. YOU NEED TO HEAR IT TOO!! WE ALL DO!! I know... you’re thinking to yourself, “No I don’t!! I’m okay with it. I can forgive and forget and I don’t hold any grudges.” I don’t doubt for a minute that you’re being honest. But I don’t believe that you’re practicing TOTAL Forgiveness... the way that God wants us to Forgive one another. You may not be upset with the person who hurt you. You may not be actively seeking to get back at them. You may have dropped the issue in your mind and stopped thinking about it and that person. But that’s not the same as truly and TOTALLY Forgiving them.
How can I be so sure that you’re not practicing TOTAL Forgiveness?? It’s simple. You’re a sinful human being just like me and every other person who has ever lived on the face of this earth. And because of that, it’s guaranteed that you’re going to make mistakes and struggle with TOTALLY Forgiving someone. It’s a hard process. In fact, it’s probably the most difficult thing you’ll ever have to do. In a sense, it’s like climbing Mt. Everest. It may be very difficult, but it will be the most rewarding thing you’ve ever done in your life.
I think that the author of that book I told you about, R.T. Kendall, hit the nail right on the head. He said that you may not think you’ve ever seen or experienced a miracle in your life. But once God leads you to Totally Forgive someone, you will see a real-life miracle. No... you won’t see Jesus changing water into wine... or healing someone from a dreaded disease... or raising someone from the dead. But you will see Him change the attitude of your heart... and remove the dreaded disease of bitterness from your mind... and He will resurrect in you the Peace that He wants you to have.
A miracle is when something supernatural happens. And Totally Forgiving someone is supernatural. In other words, it goes against the laws of nature that are at work in our sinful hearts. It’s not natural for us sinners to Forgive. Our sinful nature would rather seek revenge. Our sinful nature would rather hold onto the desire to pay back the person who hurt us... even if that payback doesn’t come from us. Our sinful nature hopes for the day when we’ll be able to see the offending person suffering and say, “Sucker... you got what you deserved. What goes around comes around!” THAT is not Total Forgiveness. The good news is that God can teach us how to do it His way. And by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can experience this miracle in our own lives.
So where can we go to learn how God wants us to Forgive?? As always, our only reliable source is God’s Word. And trust me, it’s full of examples of how God wants us to Totally Forgive others. He sets out for us a model or a pattern for us to follow as we seek to Forgive in a way that’s pleasing to Him. Maybe the best thing to do is to start with a negative example.
Hopefully you all remember the story of Jacob and Esau. The Reader’s Digest version is that Jacob pulled a nasty trick on his brother Esau and stole his birthright. When Esau learned what had happened, he was angry. He was so angry that Genesis 27:41 says: Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, "The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” In other words, he was going to bide his time and when their father was dead, he was planning on paying back Jacob... by killing him. He nursed a grudge against his brother and he wanted harm to come to him. Thankfully, I can tell you that God changed Esau’s heart. Because years later when these two brothers met again, Esau had finally forgiven Jacob. But I just wonder how many years Esau didn’t suffer as he held onto his bitterness and his plans for revenge.