How in the world do you forgive when someone has hurt you so bad? If you’ve ever struggled with that, tune in to learn some very helpful practical things to put you on a path towards freedom in forgiveness. When you give at Harmony, you are investing in life change and are Advancing the Kingdom! GIVE TODAY, text any amount to (859) 459-0316 to get started (or give online @ my.harmonychurch.cc/give .
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Man, a few years back, I got really sick – like, carry a bowl or a trashcan with you everywhere you go sick. I was just miserable, ready to try anything. Jenni had posted on Facebook and some sick individual out to get me told her about some essential oil that was supposed to help people when they had nausea. I really think it was Eucalyptus oil. They told Jen to put a few drops in some water and have me drink it. I was delirious at this point and was willing to try whatever witches brew concoction these people had dreamed up. Jenni made me a batch of it and I drank it all, it was TERRIBLE! The whole time I was like, what am I doing…. You can tell I’m not bitter, right :). I down this stuff and Jen is like, [pats hands together] “that’s that, you should be better now…”. Ha. I was. not. Better! All of the sudden, I felt my stomach muscles tighten. I grabbed my bowl. I’m not joking, for the rest of the day, every time I would wretch all I could taste was that terrible essential oil coming back up through my throat, mouth, and nose. It had literally flavored my entire experience…Isn’t that exactly what carrying unforgiveness is like? Every time anyone even gets close to whatever it is that you are unwilling to forgive that you spew a little something that’s flavored with that unforgiveness?
-Your mom has ALWAYS belittled you and then expected you to take care of her and now anyone has any kind of expectation of you – you either want to run or explode
-Your boss you can’t stand him simply because he reminds you too much of your father
-Your wife is vacant and unavailable and you turn to other things just to try and punish her in your mind
-You have been used up by men, men you’ve been close to and now you see every advance as a means to manipulate you and won’t allow anyone to get close I could keep going if you’d like…Unforgiveness is a toxin to the soul it poisons and taints the waters of relationships and keeps us from finding healing and restoration. How to know if you are carrying unforgiveness? Look for these signposts in your life
- Indifference – “I don’t care what happens to me or anyone else”
- Resignation – giving up
If you find these and probably others in your life – you probably have some hints of unforgiveness – some wound in your life that has not found healing…. I think it’s why when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” it was the only part of the prayer He felt like He needed to add commentary to… Did you know that? Forgiveness is the part He highlights, look at it… Mt. 6:9-15 9 “This, then, is how you should pray:“ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation,[a] but deliver us from the evil one. [b]’ 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Did you see it? Jesus says all this stuff about the Kingdom, about our daily bread about not getting sucked into temptation and the games of the evil one but…Forgiveness is the one thing He feels He needs to expand on. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.What does this mean for us? What does it mean for me if we are carrying unforgiveness in our hearts? If you don’t forgive, God won’t forgive you… I don’t think it’s because God is withholding from you as some Ogre in the sky. I think God won’t be able to forgive because you are not positionally able to receive forgiveness. Because what most people don’t realize is that unforgiveness betrays a complete lack of trust in God. Let me explain… To understand forgiveness and its connection to trusting God, we have to first understand another biblical word in a biblical way – Justice-Justice is the reason we all have a problem with forgiveness
ILLUSTRATION: Hollywood understands just how primal our desire for justice is as humans. We can all pretend like we have an evolved sense of the world, but in a movie, I guarantee if you are introduced to a character in a movie and in the first 3 minutes of seeing that character, you see them drop a puppy off a bridge into a river to drown, I guarantee that when that character dies a horrific death by being ground up in some industrial trash compactor – you will cheer, not cry. Why? Why is that?It’s because of JusticeIt is our innate need for there to be a balance – if someone does something wrong, they should not be allowed to get away with it. Justice is when someone gets what’s coming to them…If you struggle with unforgiveness you need to know it’s natural – because you have an innate, God-given desire to see Justice accomplished-this is why you have dreams about them “getting what’s coming to them” That they would be hurt in the same or similar way that you were hurt. The biblical word for this is vengeance. And this is where trust comes into the picture. The problem for most of us is we believe if we give up on seeking vengeance then no one will. We don’t believe God. “Kent, how did you just make that jump? We don’t believe God just because we don’t want to let them get away with it? Listen to what Paul says about God
For it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord
Did you hear that? God has said He will avenge. Paul understands that if we trust God in this, it will allow us to forgive and act differently towards those who have harmed us…. Listen to the context of what he says
Rom 12:17-21 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[b] 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Paul’s understanding is that if understand God will avenge, it allows God to carry that burden and for us to carry the burden of love.
Don’t believe me yet? Let me read you one more passage – but be prepared, this one is a little hard.
Rev. 14:17-20 17 Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.” 19 The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. 20 They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.
A Horses bridle could be anywhere from 4 to 6 feet high – 1600 stadia is about 183.93 modern miles. The grapes of wrath are not grapes, they are people who have not repented and placed themselves under the blood of Jesus – they have chosen to live for themselves.. This is terrifying! I actually remember reading this and thinking it was too much…. I was like, seriously God, that’s too much…. And then on that exact same day, I was told about this terrible abuse of a child – horrible wicked stuff…. And then I understood it. I understood that our wickedness needs justice, we all want it for everyone else – just not for ourselves. Look, the reason unforgiveness is tied to trust is that the question is – Do you believe God will justly deal with the pain you’ve experienced? Forgiveness is really giving up your right to revenge and trusting that God will take care of it
CLOSING ILLUSTRATION: You know, Moses, when bringing the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt – they saw God doing all these amazing things, brought them through impossible odds to bring them to safety. Then after going through the Red Sea. God allowed them to wander in the desert for 3 days without water. 3 DAYS! You can read about it in Ex. 15. They finally see in the distance some water – they end up naming the place Marah, which means bitter, because when they arrive, they find the water is bitter and undrinkable. The people get mad and grumble against Moses and God. Moses prays and asks God what to do. God tells Moses to take part of a tree and throw it in the water. This is the craziest dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Throw a tree in poisoned water and it can restore it, can fix the bitter, and make it better? It seems almost silly until I view it in light of the cross. Because I think God was pointing us to what He wants to do for every one of us. He wants to clear the water of your life, He wants to free you from the bondage you’ve experienced through carrying so much hate and anger with you – spewing a little of it up every time that tender place and wound is touched. Today, I want to throw the tree of the cross into that water – it’s my hope that you will turn to Jesus. That you will give up the burden of trying to be God and punish people in your mind and let God be the one who will carry out justice. That you will drink deeply of the water of life that Jesus offers and TODAY, find freedom from sins and the hold it has had on your life! God will one day bring about retribution for everything we’ve done – but He can free you from your sins and keep you out of the winepress…Turn to Him today!