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COURAGE! To Forgive
Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash.; Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011; Pastor Jeff MacLurg (notes are mine, I pray that I have correctly heard God message in this sermon and recorded them here in a way that helps you)
----- Identifying the Twin Giants -----
- Giant #1: An unwillingness to FORGIVE OURSELVES (look at what I did, look at what I caused, look at what I ruined. There's no way. It's just too big, too unforgivable.)
- Giant #2: An unwillingness to FORGIVE OTHERS (fear, unthinkable)
----- The Giant-Slaying Weapon -----
That weapon: the reality that God has FORGIVEN YOU
1 John 1:9
God's forgiveness means that God will no longer require PAYMENT from you for the SINS YOU'VE ALREADY COMMITTED.
Jesus took the debt we owed, the debt we could have never paid, and he covered it. Did I commit the sin? Yes. Did I deserve to be punished for it? Yes. Was there any way I could have ever paid it? Nope. But it's been covered. Will I ever sin again? Yes. Does God know that? Yes. But he chose to forgive you anyway because he loves you. And it's only forgiven people who can change.
Example of when the pastor was in the grocery store and the blind man in front of him came up $5 short. The pastor gave the cashier the money and it was paid just as if the man had paid it himself. There was no longer any debt even though the man had not paid it.
----- Unwillingness to forgive ourselves -----
(You won't find this in the Bible, but you'll find this principle.)
Stop feeling that I stop paying additional EMOTIONAL BILLS for the WRONG I HAVE DONE.
I have no more painful bills.
People who can't forgive themselves:
- they don't like themselves very much
- they chronically nag themselves and call themselves names
- self-destructive behaviors
- may be depressed
- may medicate or partake (eating, drinking, drugs) to numb or mask pain
- may see pain in their world as punishment for what they've done
- may be suspicious when you forgive them or simply want to be their friend
- they carry a heavy, heavy burden of guilt
It's not easy, especially if it's against someone else. We feel awful for our behavior. "How could I have done that?" "How could I have said that?"
* Forgiving myself means changing my belief system
It takes courage. Other people may tell me I have no right to get on with my life.
We think we need to be more accountable. We need to be wiser. We have no right to make the mistakes others make because we hold ourselves to a higher standard. It's easier to forgive others for even worse sins. I deserve penance.
HOLD UP!!!! - that's just being arrogant. That's pride speaking.
Take the courage to say that you can let go of that pain, that guilt.
God forgave you. All of you. Even you specifically. He remembers your sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:34) The sin is a fact, but it no longer defines you because it has been forgiven.
Acts 10:34 - God doesn't show favoritism. God forgives you and you and you and you and you and you (etc.). We should be prepared to model God and not just forgive everyone else, but truly everyone (including ourselves.). If God has moved on, so can you.
* Forgiving myself - God's example
1. I agree WITH GOD.
I did sin. I did something wrong. I caused pain. But, if God is willing to show me grace, I can believe it and show myself some grace as well. (The woman caught in adultery - Jesus: "Then neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.")
(see James 5:16 - then people can confirm that you truly have been forgiven - sometimes saying it in the mirror just doesn't cut it)
This isn't about confession or absolution. Simply know and admit that you are forgiven.
2. I seek others' FORGIVENESS.
The other person not need forgive me for me to be forgiven, but it is the opportunity to set them free. (Romans 12 - build the bridge). It may take time. A lot of time. May involve you offering restitution - not to pay for your sin, but if you've cost someone, it may be the right thing to do to relieve anything you've cost them.
3. MOVE ON
Expect life to be different. Do expect that memories of what you did will come back, but you no longer need to hate yourself for what you did.
Look around you - we are all sinners. And we've all been forgiven. When the mental bill collector comes around (Satan) telling you haven't paid enough, you're free to dismiss him. You couldn't have paid it anyway.
If I can't move on, if I think I need to pay more, then I'm being prideful. If it's already been paid, why I am ignoring God and listening to the devil?
---- Unwillingness to forgive others -----
Forgiving others means I stop desiring REVENGE OR ILL WILL toward toward those whom I feel have wronged me.
It's not dependent on the other person repenting. There's no requirement for them to admit they were (or are still wrong). Has little to do with the person you're forgiving and everything to do with you. You set them free.
It does not mean it all goes back to the way it was before. You give up your desire to hurt back. Trust has be to rebuilt. In some cases, things may have gone too far.
Understand how much it cost God to forgive you. Appreciate what it takes to experience that kind of freedom.
Too often we're afraid that they'll be hurt again. Or what our friends will say.
Or like Jonah, we don't want them to be saved.
If a perfect God could forgive our violation, then imperfect people like us must be able to.
1. Admit my ANGER AND HURT.
Allows us to turn it over to God to deal with.
2. I decide to MOVE TOWARD FORGIVENESS.
3. I work ON FORGIVING.
Begin a walk with God. Starts where you are in your hurt and takes you to someplace else. May be a long walk. May require many talks with God and others.
4. MOVE ON.
I am now set free to move on in life. No one can turn back the clock. But with God's help, our life can move forward.
----- Life without the giants -----
1. I'm OK about the injury.
I have peace about the person who hurt or who I hurt.
2. My life is no longer DEFINED BY THAT PAIN OR INJURY.
3. I no longer carry any ILL-WILL TOWARD THEM.