Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

08/5/2018 A.M.

 

Enjoying The Fruit Of Forgiveness

Matthew 6.12-15  Mark 11.25  Colossians 3.13  Hebrews 12.15

Ephesians 4.31-32  Romans 12.17-19

 

Forgiveness... It’s a major component, element in our faith...Without it we would be lost.  Without forgiveness... We could not have a right relationship with God or with one another.

 

Try to imagine your world today... What it would be like were there no such thing as forgiveness.

 

Amazingly enough... I talk to people almost every week... Who are spending their time struggling with some element of forgiveness...

• Either they are seeking forgiveness from God or others...

• OR... OR... They are unable or unwilling to forgive or accept forgiveness.

 

You see... When we understand and apply principles of forgiveness... we experience an awesome freedom.

 

So...Forgiveness...Is a process we can't ignore if we want to become the people and person God created us to be... Wants us to be… My prayer is that this lesson will help each of us.

 

Come...Let’s see what we can learn about forgiveness... Especially our forgiving others.... Listen to these statements by Jesus...

 

Matthew 6.12-15...Jesus taught us to pray… Forgive us our debts... As we also have forgiven our debtors. For if you forgive men when they sin against you... Your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

 

Mark 11.25... When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone... forgive him... So that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

 

Colossians 3.13 reads… Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another... Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

 

The Hebrews’ writer promotes forgiveness when he wrote… Don’t let any root of bitterness spring up within you.

 

Ephesians 4.31& 32 says…Be kind and compassionate to one another… Forgiving each other… Get rid of allbitterness… Rage… Anger… Slander… And every form of malice.

 

Romans 12.17-19 readsDo not repay anyone evil for evil… As far as it depends on you…Live at peace with everyone… Do not take revenge… But leave room for God’s wrath… It is God’s work to avenge… He will repay.

 

Church…How can we read these Scriptures and not understand that...

• We are under command to forgive...

• Forgiveness is a choice we make...

Forgiveness is a personal issue...No one can do it for us... And no one must do anything in order for us to forgive.

• Thus... It only TAKES one to forgive...And that’s us.

 

Forgiveness is a determinate personal choice on our part to release

• The hurt…

• The pain…

• The anger…

• Hate…

• And Bitterness…

• The hard feelings...

We harbor toward another person… Or God… Or perhaps even toward one’s self.

 

Indeed!...This attitude and behavior are within our control.

We don’t need anyone else’s…

• Permission…

• Or acceptance…

It is ours alone!!

 

Let me tell you a story about our need to forgive and how it affects our life daily.

Leonardo da Vinci painted what we know as... The Last Supper... At a church in Milan... Two very interesting stories are associated with this painting.

 

At the time that Leonardo painted The Supper... He was in a feud with another painter... An enemy with whom he was having a bitter argument. da Vinci literally despised this individual.

 

When da Vinci painted the face of Judas Iscariot at the table with Jesus... He used the face of his enemy so that people through the ages... People would see this man as the Judas he was. He took delight while painting this picture in knowing that others would actually notice the face of his enemy on Judas.

 

As da Vince worked on the faces of the other disciples... He often tried to paint the face of Jesus... But couldn't make any progress. He felt frustrated and confused. In time he realized what was wrong. His hatred for the other painter was holding him back from finishing the face of Jesus. Only after making peace with his fellow painter and repainting the face of Judas was he able to paint the face of Jesus and complete his masterpiece.

 

One of the reasons we may have a hard time accepting God’s forgiveness is because we’re finding it hard to forgive others.

 

Listen to me church... If we want our relationship with Jesus to be all that it should be... And could be... forgive others... All others...

• Family...

• Friends...

• Brother & sisters in Christ...

• Neighbors...

• Our enemies....

And do all we can to demonstrate Christ's love to them.

 

Let me give three reasons for forgiving others...

Three reasons we should choose to forgive...

 

First…We ought to forgive because God commands it.

 

Listen to Matthew 18.21-22… 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?Jesus answered… I tell you... Not seven times…But seventy times seventy.

 

Jesus refused to place a numerical limit on our forgiveness… Making it limitless.

 

Jesuswent on to tell a parable about an official who had forgiven his servant a huge debt…But then he refused to forgive his fellow servant of a few pennies.

 

At the end of the parable… Jesus said… You should have had mercy on your fellow slave… As I had mercy on you… So… My heavenly Father will also do to every one of you... If you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

 

As a child of God... Do we want to go home forgiven this morning? Do we REALLY?

Then we must get rid of all the... unforgiveness…Bitterness… Anger… and Hate… In our life… Forgive...So we can be forgiven!

 

Listen to me church…

• Why do we seek God in our life?

• Why did we become a child of God by...Faith… Repentance… Confession… and Baptism?

• Why do we strive to be like Jesus?

• Why are we here this morning?

Because we want to be forgiven.

 

We are willing to take any steps to have God’s forgiveness and acceptance… AMEN?

 

Then we must choose to forgive!... Because God commands it!... And our forgiving others brings his forgiveness into our life.

 

Secondly…We choose to forgive because it’s healthy.

 

We must know this morning that there are awesome destructive powers hidden within unforgiveness.

 

Choosing not to forgive is a choice to harbor…

• Anger…

• Hate…

• Malice...

• Bitterness…

• Jealously...

• Resentment…

In our hearts.

 

This is destructive... mentally…Spiritually… Emotionally… Physically.

These...Thoughts… Emotions… Attitudes… and Disposition… Are poisonous to us.

 

Choosing not to forgive is much like...

• Refusing to treat a cancerous growth…

• Or an ailing heart condition.

Wayne Dyer… In his book… Ten Secrets OfSuccess And Inner Peace… writes… Resentment is like snake venom that continues to pour through our system… Doing its poisonous work long afterbeing bitten. It’s not the bite… It’s not the act that hurts us that kills us…It’s the venom… Raging quietly through our entire person… The ongoing bitterness.

 

No wonder the Hebrews’ writer said… Let no root of bitterness grow in you to cause you trouble.

 

Or Paul to say… Get rid of all... Bitterness… Rage… Anger… Etc.

 

It was Confucius who said… Those who cannot forgive others destroy the bridge over which they themselves must pass… AMEN?

 

The Great Physician prescribes a prescription of forgiveness so our heart can be freed from... Anger… Hate… Bitterness… Resentment… Malice... Revenge…That steals our peace and joy… That wounds us... Mentally... Spiritually...Emotionally... Physically.

 

Thirdly…Forgiving makes life more enjoyable….And creates a better world.

 

The media reminds us daily of the... anger…Hate… Prejudice… And animosity… That rules and ruins our world.

 

But...It doesn’t have to happen in.... our smaller world… Our personal world.

• Of families…

• Workplace…

• In our friendship circle…

• Or here in the church…

We have a choice!!… We can choose to be different.

 

If we deliberately choose to hold onto... Bitterness… Grudges… Prejudices… Resentment…

• We’re only adding more darkness to an already dark world…

• We are ruining our own... Smaller…Personal… World.

Choose to make a difference… Choose to become a peacemaker.

 

This was Jesus’ admonition from the Sermon on the Mount… Blessed… Happy… Joyous… At peace… Are those who choose to become peacemakers… Because they shall be called sons of God

• Choose to forgive… And our home will be a place of happiness…

• Choose to forgive… And our friendship circle will be a more peaceful one.

• Choose to forgive… And going to work will be a joyous event.

• Choose to forgive… And our world will be a better place to live.

• Choose to forgive… And this church becomes a blessed and joyous place of worship and fellowship.

 

Do you know why some of us are not enjoying the fellowship that’s meant to be in the church?... This church?... Because of the lack of forgiveness.

 

OK... Let’s close with five steps to help us with Forgiveness...

 

Step 1... We must understand our own forgiveness.  

 

• Once we understand the depth of our sin and the distance it places between us and God...

 

• Once we get a glimpse of the sacrifice God has made to restore this sin broken fellowship with us...

We will not hesitate to forgive.

 

If we comprehend God's forgiveness toward us but refuse to forgive those who've wronged us... Then we're like the wicked... Ungrateful slave... Jesus described in Matthew chapter eighteen.

 

Realizing God has totally forgiven us of a debt we can never repay helps us learn the importance of forgiving others.

 

Step 2... Forgiveness is Releasing the offender from the debt we feel is owed.

 

This involves bundling all of our hostile feelings and surrendering them to Jesus.

 

Read Ephesians 4.31-32 again... Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

 

We can accomplish this by meeting face-to-face with the person who wronged us... Or who we have wronged.

 

In cases where this person...

• Has moved...

• Has died...

• Or is totally unapproachable...

It’s a good idea to use an empty chair substitution.  Sit facing an empty chair... Imagine the other individual seated across from us... Confess our resentment... Offer our forgiveness.

 

Step 3... Forgiveness is accepting people where they are.

 

Forgiveness is seeing them where they are... Not rehearsing the act that hurt us.

Listen to me church... Forgiveness is an act of our own will...

• It’s a decision to absolve another of any responsibility to meet our needs.

• It’s saying... You owe me nothing.

 

Forgiveness is saying I forgive regardless of your attitude or behavior toward me.

 

Just see Jesus on the cross... As He forgives the guilty soldiers... Father forgive them... They know not what they do... There were no conditions for His forgiveness.

 

Genuine... Jesus-like forgiveness of others... Has no conditions to be met... Forgiveness is up to us... Whether they accept it or not.

 

Step 4... See those we've forgiven as INSTRUMENTS in our lives.

 

God uses situations and people to help us grow in our understandingof His grace.

 

Perhaps no one grasped this idea any more than did Joseph.

He saw his brothers as instruments God used to place him in a position to save his family from extreme famine.

 

His brothers feared what he might do to get even... But Joseph responded in Genesis 50.20... You meant evil against me... But God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result...To preserve many people alive.

 

Indeed... God uses our forgiveness to allow good things to happen... In us... For us... With us...About us... Through us.

 

Step 5... Pursue reconciliation.

 

Forgiveness is not reconciliation...

Nor does forgiveness demand reconciliation...

 

We can forgive without reconciliation... But once forgiveness is complete...Reconciliation becomes a beautiful option in genuine Biblical forgiveness.

 

We are to free to re-establish contact with the estranged... Friends... Former co-workers... Family members... Church brothers & sisters.

 

Church...Remember this... Primarily forgiveness is for our benefit.

The other person’s behavior may never change.

It's up to God... Not us... To change others...

• Ours is to pray for their change...

• And to be ready to act upon any and every impulse of their forgiveness.

 

Ours is to be set free from the pressure and weight of an unforgiving attitude.

 

Whateverour pain or situation... We cannot afford to hold on to anunforgiving spirit.

 

Let us do the right thing... Forgive and enjoy God’s forgiving us and the right relationship that forgiveness affords us... Amen?

 

Let me ask you this morning... Are you in need of God’s forgiveness?... He offers it though His Son Jesus... If we will in faith repent of our sinful ways... Confess His Name... And be born again in New Testament Baptism... Immersion in water for the forgiveness of sins.

 

Perhaps...There is someone... we need to forgive... Or ask forgiveness.

Why not open the way to a better... More happier life... Spiritually...Emotionally... Physically...

By forgiving...

• Or accepting forgiveness...

As we stand and sing together.