Have you ever known someone who just couldn’t forgive what was done to them? Have you watched them as it slowly ate away at who they were and destroyed them? Have you yourself kept dwelling on and let unforgiveness eat away who you really are? Pastor Doug dives into forgiveness from King David’s life and shares a message for all of us...
In last week’s message on David and Bathsheba we learned an amazing truth about God’s forgiveness and acceptance, through David’s life we learned it’s not how terrible, how much, or how badly we’ve sinned but how truly repentant we are over our sins. We also learned it is our trust in Christ’s incredible love and mercy and how sufficient we feel the very Blood of God Himself in cleansing our sins.
Some of you will accept and understand this incredible forgiveness and yet we feel distant from God, continue to be unfulfilled in our walk with Him, and to continue to have a spiritually uneventful life and you wonder WHY??
Some of you may be shocked today with the following statements though they are Scripturally sound and absolutely true: (1) Some of you are in a place where God is literally refusing to listen to your prayers (2) Some of you are in a place where God wants everything you are doing for Him to just completely stop your giving, worship, service, anything for Him. (3) The worst of all, God is literally saying “You are saved…BUT YOUR SINS HAVE BECOME A WEDGE BETWEEN US THAT I REFUSE TO MOVE!”
Sounds blasphemous, how could scriptures even suggest such a thing? Listen closely if you understand the gravity of these statements.
Yes, God will purposefully refuse to hear your prayers
1 Timothy 2:8
Yes, God will not want your gifts of worship or serving
Did you catch that last line in verse 12? As we forgive our debtors and just to understand the magnitude of what he is saying he makes this additional comment…
Now to just show that scripture wasn’t just a fluke let’s read James 2:12-13.
Serious and mindboggling actions from a God full of mercy, grace and love. Why would God be so harsh on this one issue, because forgiveness was not something given out freely IT CAME AT A COST!
If I owed you $20,000 and you forgave the debt was it paid out of the kindness of your heart? NO, it cost you $20,000 for you to forgive the debt? Just as it cost Jesus to forgive our debts.
Another example, would it be ok for someone who had just raped, tortured and murdered a child to be forgiven by a judge because he was nice? Absolutely not, payment must be paid for the crime. Exactly as payment had to be made for our sins by Jesus, as horrible as our sins was He loved us so much He couldn’t let us go so the payment had to be made to account for the cost of our sins, a payment paid in full by the heavy cost of pain, blood and horror. Forgiveness was only possible because He paid for what was forgiven. It cost Jesus more than anyone can understand as He took on the punishment and terrible shame in paying the cost to make forgiveness easy for you and I to accept. This is why God is so harsh about how we withhold forgiveness to others!
Now the King forgives the debt of 10,000 talents ($12 million to $1 billion) but the servant then couldn’t forgive a debt to him of a hundred denarii (3 months wages). We all have those that have wronged us terribly in some way, those that do not deserve forgiveness or even care if we forgive them. Listen very carefully now, to withhold forgiveness to anyone means we do not understand and appreciate what incredible love and mercy we’ve been shown, an unbelievable gift from God that cost Him everything and yet we are to ungrateful to pass on this gift to others…No matter the cost!
1 Peter 1:18-20
To withhold forgiveness means we don’t understand or that we spit on God’s unbelievable gift, it means we feel we know more about that person, all their problems, torments, and whether they’re capable of repentance, than God Himself.
God knows what is needed to change their heart; how, when, and what kind of punishment, and if necessary only He can prove their condemnation is just.
To withhold forgiveness requires a purposeful heart of ongoing contempt and hatred, many live conscious and very often subconscious lives of resentment and anger to those that have done them wrong.
When we embrace these feelings it keeps us from seeing God’s love, purpose, and plan for that person and anyone else because we are focused on self, potentially hardening our hearts for weeks, months, years or a lifetime. Harboring resentment breeds other sins as we are tempted to gossip, slander, act spitefully, and be vindictive and vengeful. Many have lost their way in life based upon an unforgiving heart, it’s like an infection in a wound. They make poor decisions based on their attitude towards this person, develop a self-image based upon the hurt, spite, and shame.
Henry Thoreau once said “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it” and in light of that statement How expensive is your forgiveness? How could you possibly agree with everything we have covered but still say that you are reluctant to forgive because they don’t want it, never asked for it, don’t think they need it, or wouldn’t accept it anyway. So, what is the scriptural answer to “they haven’t asked for forgiveness” and they still are spiteful and hurtful?
Let’s look first at the whether they should initiate or ask for forgiveness before we give it….
Does it sound like they initiated the request for reconciliation and forgiveness? God says we are to forgive and initiate reconciliation, if they don’t accept then we are not at fault.
What about those who wouldn’t even talk to us about forgiveness or reconciliation—do I still forgive them even if they want to be against me as an enemy? Understand that we absolutely can and should stand up to wrong doing, we should defend those we love and punish wrong but we need to do so without malice, hate or unforgiveness. Otherwise we will be overtaken by hatred and revenge….
1 Corinthians 4:12-13
We do not forgive because someone asks, or deserves it, we forgive because everything we have done God has taken away with a terrible cost to Himself and we are compelled to do the same to those who owe us a much lesser debt. We forgive because whatever they have done has not just been swept away, not because they’ve gotten away with it, but because their debt has been paid with the same price as ours and if they don’t accept payment then they will be punished in God’s time and in His way by a punishment worse than you could give.
We forgive because to do less would trap our hearts in a self-focused, unloving cage which would affect our emotions, decisions, and view of self and the world for our entire lives. We forgive because the very act of undeserved forgiveness may be the single biggest show of Jesus’ real love for that undeserving person in their lifetime.
There is never more of a time you are like Christ and show His love and understanding to the world than when you forgive, deserved or undeserved.
There was a congregant who, because of unforgiveness, left this flock, left their friends and possible left God, all because of unforgiveness.
As studying this sermon Thursday night I was interrupted by a wife whose husband was acting in such a way that he deserved no respect, and no return for love but she agreed to give unconditional forgiveness and love as we pray for God to work in his heart.
If we understand the price and sacrifice, understand that love He gave, then for no other reason than a gift of gratitude and a recognition for all that He has done….WE SHOULD FORGIVE!!!
Ask yourself these questions, who is controlling your life through unforgiveness, who made you lose the blessings and fellowship of God, who has changed your attitude towards life and yourself, who may be in more need of God and in more pain than you’ll ever know?
If we love Christ we have no excuse, no reason, it is our duty our privilege, our gift to forgive. Some may be holding on to unforgiveness like holding unto a rope for dear life and it has completely worn you out, keeping your hands too busy to do anything else. Your feet are just inches from the floor all you have to do is let go and forgive.
Freedom on The Ground
If you’re feeling down and out
If you’re holding on by fingertips
I’ll tell you there’s freedom on the ground
Like a man at the end of his rope
Nothing left to do but let it go
There’s freedom on the ground
And I’ve been tied up for far too long
So now I’ll cut these ropes and fall
And you, you’re a grownup now, aren’t you
And hey you wouldn’t listen to a word I say
There is freedom on the ground
No worries, no worries in the sound
There is freedom on the ground
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