Summary: Last in this series
Working It Out Jesus’ Way (Part 4)
July 15, 2007
As I mentioned last week, I have had people in my life who have hurt me terribly, like most everyone who has lived for very long.
And I mentioned that like you, I have struggled with the issue of forgiveness, and in some instances, it’s been hard, just like it is for some of you sometime.
We can look at forgiveness from an academic or a theological perspective, and we can define it all we want.
But you know what I’ve found? Most people don’t live in the academic and theological worlds when it comes to things like forgiveness.
So I’d like us to see what this all about on the personal and practical level.
But before we do, let’s pray.
I want us to look at just two passages of Scripture today, and they are two passages we looked at last week.
The first is part of the Matthew passage we’ve been exploring the last few weeks, and that is 18:35 –
35 "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."
My only reason for bringing up this verse is to remind us that Jesus expects us to forgive.
He doesn’t just present it as a swell idea. He expects us to pass on the grace we have received as forgiven people, to other people who have sinned against us.
But look at how Jesus wants us to forgive someone: from your heart.
In fact, that’s the first blank in your note-taking guide for today:
* Forgiveness must come from the heart or it is not true forgiveness.
How many of you were children once? Okay, that’s all of you.
How many of you were mean to your brother or sister at least once growing up?
And how many of you meanies were told by your mom or dad to go and say you were sorry for being mean?
And how many of you meant it when you said it? That’s what I thought.
“I’m sorry…” You didn’t mean it.
But you know what? That’s how many people handle the requirement to forgive.
“I forgive you…” And just like you didn’t mean it when you said you were sorry as a little kid, you don’t mean it when you say you’re sorry.
They may say the words, but their hearts aren’t following.
But Jesus says that our forgiveness needs to not just be with our lips, but right from our hearts.
But how does that happen, especially when the hurt is huge? It’s easy to say, but it’s not always easy to do, is it?
No, it’s not always easy. In fact, I’m not going to suggest any of what I’m going to cover is easy.
But easy or not, it’s what Jesus tells us to do. We are to forgive from the heart.
It can really only happen when we’ve allowed the Holy Spirit live and move in us, transforming us to be like Jesus, who forgave His executioners.
We have to ask God to do something within us to make it possible.
At the end of the message I’ll be sharing a story about someone who did just that and was able to forgive someone who had perpetrated atrocities on her and her family.
But first I want us to look at the second passage, and that is Ephesians 4:31-32 –
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Three things in particular from these verses we need to point out as we look at the question, “Why is forgiveness so important?”:
* Forgiveness is the antidote to those things that poison the soul.
Can anyone tell me anything good about bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, and malice? I didn’t think so.
Can anyone tell me any important health benefits we gain from harboring these in our hearts? I didn’t think so.
So let me just boil it down by saying this: these things are bad for you.
They do nothing but harm you spiritually, emotionally, in your relationships, and even your physical health.
This passage says we’re supposed to get rid of all that stuff. We’re not supposed to keep hanging onto it like packrats stuffing an attic.
And the way to get rid of them is to forgive.
In other words, replace the bad stuff with a heart of forgiveness.
Here’s the second thing I want to mention from this passage in Ephesians:
* Forgiveness is a form of compassion.
Notice how the apostle Paul links the two:
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other…