Summary: Last of a three-part series on forgiving others.
Why Forgiving Others is So Important
March 21, 2010
NOTE: THE ME/WE/GOD/YOU/WE FORMAT IS FROM ANDY STANLEY'S BOOK, "COMMUNICATING FOR A CHANGE."
We’ve spent the last two weeks talking about this whole issue of forgiveness.
We’ve looked at what it is and what it isn’t, and last week we looked at the life of Joseph as someone who had really been in a position in life where, had he chosen to be, could have allowed unforgiveness and bitterness to take over and run his life.
He had been mistreated and abused by his family.
He was unjustly accused and punished for something he didn’t do.
And he was forgotten by someone he had done a favor for.
And yet because he was able to grab the eternal perspective on things, he could forgive.
It wasn’t easy, and it’s not easy for many people to forgive. Some people, some of you, have been hurt so much and so badly that forgiveness is an effort, and without the help of God you wouldn’t be able to do that.
And when someone says to you, “Well, you know that time heals all wounds,” or “You know what they say, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,’” you want to punch them in the throat and say, “Tell you what – let me give you something you have to forgive me for and see how easy it is!” Right?
Because you know what? Time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds. Total healing may never take place this side of heaven. And words do hurt sometimes.
We’re going to spend a few weeks after Easter talking about how our words can affect other people – for good or for bad.
But the fact is that all of us have been hurt from time to time and we’ve all been tempted to hold onto that and nurse that grudge.
Because let’s just be honest: it’s fun to nurse a grudge isn’t it? It’s fun to think of ways we can get even or make their lives miserable.
And we look in the mirror and see these little devil horns start poking out of our heads like Elmer Fudd has when he’s trying to get Bugs Bunny.
The problem is that unforgiveness for the Christian is not an option.
When we withhold forgiveness from someone, we not only hurt the other person, we hurt ourselves and our relationship with God.
Today we’re going to look at four reasons forgiveness is so important.
And my hope is that if you’re finding yourself holding something against someone, you’ll find freedom to forgive, and you’ll find healing for the hurts that have been inflicted on you by someone.
God: Four reasons forgiving others is so important:
1. Forgiving others is being obedient to God.
Mentioned this two weeks ago, but want to mention it again because it’s just too important to overlook.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
There are no exceptions to this. There is no reasoning with God about this. There is no reason to pray about whether you should forgive that person.
He commands it. We need to do it. To not do it is to be in disobedience. And disobedience is sin, right? Right.
You might need God’s help to forgive someone, like Corrie ten Boom did when confronted by one of the cruel guards from Ravensbruck prison camp.
With God all things are possible – including forgiving those who have hurt you – including those who have hurt you so bad you are scarred for life because of it.
Remember, forgiving doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting. It means releasing your right for vengeance, your right to hold on that offense, and your right to hear, “I’m sorry.”
With God’s help you can do that. And He wants to help you with that. But you are not excused from forgiving.
Remembering that Christ forgave you for all your sins should be a motivation for forgiving others.
2. Forgiveness frees us from slavery to the past.
Unforgiveness is like a chain around your soul. But it’s a chain you can break with the help of God.
We can never move on to healing and reconciliation when you’re a slave to the past.
You can never move on to the depth of relationship and enjoyment of Christ that’s possible and that He wants for you if you are chained to the past in unforgiveness.
3. Forgiving others has some benefits:
Special: An interview with “Dr. Phil” (This was an "interview" with a guy dressed up as Dr. Phil)