New Hope Notes
WhenYou Can't Seem To Forgive
When Life Leaves Quesions
Pastor Jon Burgess
"When You Can't Seem To Forgive"
When Life Leaves Questions
Pastor Jon Burgess
November 16 & 17, 2019
Welcome, New Hope!
Every one of us have had that moment—whether in elementary school, high school, or probably multiple moments throughout our lives—when someone made us feel ashamed of who we are. They wounded and cut us to the core, and we didn't have someone to say, “Instead of being clothed in shame, woundedness, and unforgiveness, let me clothe you in kindness and hope, and remind you of who you are.”
I want to start out this message exactly that way to say that you are forgiven, and you are a forgiver! Some of us have had our families pass down unforgiveness, bitterness, grudges, hurts and pains; we don't even know why we're not supposed to talk to our uncle, aunty, or grandpa. But they say that we don't talk to them, so we don't; and we end up wearing shirts and colors of pain, sorrow, and woundedness.
I believe that Jesus wants to put His arm around each of us (here and online) to let you know that you don't have to wear that unforgiveness and pain of words that cut you to the core. But you get to wear the colors of forgiveness, the brightness that shines from the glory of Christ with a future and a hope! Every single day, multiple times a day, we must choose which shirt we're going to put on: Is it the shirt of forgiveness with a bright future, or is it the shirt of shame, grudges, unforgiveness, and pain?
Maybe, some of us don't know how to forgive—it's a big concept—yet forgiveness is at the core of our faith! I hope that if you have questions and feeling that there's no way you could ever forgive that person for what they've done to you, I'm glad you're here because that's what this series is all about: When Life Leaves Questions, and asking God questions.
Matthew 18:21-22 NIV says: “21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
What is Jesus talking about? Kingdom math doesn't add up: Give and you shall receive; five loaves and two fish feeds 5,000 people. This doesn't add up! Soon we understand that this is not about the math of forgiveness—but about the path of forgiveness! Jesus is prepping Peter and the rest of us when we have these questions to know, that every single day of your life, we will have opportunities to forgive, and forgive, and then forgive again! In fact, we will have endless opportunities during our journey of faith when we will be required to walk in forgiveness. Maybe you're here and you know that's true, but it still doesn't make it any easier.
So, I want you to have a heads up from Jesus: The moment that we walk out of this place someone will break something, say something, do something or have a bit of edge to their words but you will be ready for it because you're wearing forgiveness! They will be surprised by your response because you won’t get angry or fly off the handle; but will say, "Hey, listen, that's okay. I forgive you. Let's move forward." Forgiveness is the way forward! Here are three questions about forgiveness that you may be able to relate to:
Forgiveness requires action! It’s not about how I feel—good, bad, or indifferent! It’s not about feelings at all! If we only forgive when we feel like it, there won’t be much forgiving. In fact, we'll probably forgive up to three times and then call it quits, and we'll hold a grudge for the rest of the time! It's not about feelings anyway. The same faith muscle that you used to receive forgiveness and became a child of God through salvation is the same faith muscle that you need to exercise when you're forgiving somebody else!
Some mornings I wake up and I feel forgiven by Jesus; some mornings I wake up and I feel there's no way He could forgive me. But whether I feel forgiven or not, I'm forgiven because of the sacrifice of Jesus! We must decide to wear the shirt of forgiveness because we are forgivers. It is what we do! It is who we are! We forgive whether we feel like it or not!
Luke 17:3-5 NIV says: “3 So watch yourselves, “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
Verse 5 is key: "The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith!'" Notice they didn't say increase our feelings of forgiveness. They understood that forgiveness is not about feelings—it's all about faith! Faith in what? That Jesus will bring justice to the situation; He will handle this hurt better than I can. My job is to forgive—His job is to take care of that person that wounded, misunderstood, or accused me! See where faith muscle comes in?
When we apply faith to forgiveness, we become unstoppable. Wear the shirt of forgiveness every single day of your life because the same faith that gets you out of bed and says, “I am forgiven,” is that same faith that says, “I will forgive and trust that Jesus will handle this person better than I can.”
This is so good! I know it hurts, but if you hold on to that hurt, you will only hurt yourself—playing right into the devil’s trap. He ties his schemes directly to our lack of forgiveness; but when you forgive, you’re hitting the devil where it hurts. So, instead of grinding your teeth at the thought of that person, kick the devil in the teeth by forgiving that person and letting them go into the hands of our God!
The devil is counting on us to drink the bitter waters and hold on to that grudge so that we can't hold on to God. The devil's schemes always rely on us not forgiving the people that have hurt us. Jesus is literally saying, “Jon, here's how you do it. It's not about whether you feel like doing it. When Jesus was on the cross, the devil never saw what was coming; he thought he was victorious. And when Jesus said, "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they're doing," the devil didn't realize it, but he lost all power over us and our relationships!
The Lord is saying, “If you go with your feelings, it will actually make things worse—making your soul sicker! We must actually give it to the Lord and say, “God, take this. I'm giving you my wounds, sorrow, and grief; it's not good for me.” I'm praying that we will no longer be led by our feelings, but by faith. We surrender the false comfort of unforgiveness to the Lord, and watch what He does!
This is a good one: “I will forgive them the moment they say they're sorry—the moment they own up to what they did to me and how they hurt and wounded me—then I'll forgive them.” The devil did not expect forgiveness to come from Jesus when he saw the people beating Him to a bloody pulp and mocking Him. Yet, Jesus extended unexpected forgiveness and grace, while He was being rejected!
1 Peter 2:21-23 NIV says: “21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”
We must let go of our right to be seen as right, and trust that Jesus will judge the situation better than I can. I am not the judge or the jury, and I am not Jesus! I will do the unexpected even while being rejected, even while the people in my life are convinced that they're right and I'm wrong, and everything inside me wants to show them how wrong they are! Jesus says: “I left you an example to follow, a pattern for living: Instead of reacting in anger respond with forgiveness!
While Jesus was looking at the crowd, He knew that not everyone in the world would accept the grace and forgiveness that He bought on the cross, yet He forgave anyway. He loved Judas with the same amount of love that He loved the other 11 disciples, knowing full well that he would betray Him to the cross. How's that for forgiveness? That's extending the unexpected even while being rejected!
Matthew 5:43-44 NIV says: 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
I always had a sense that if I love my enemy, poof, they will turn into my friend. But that's not what that scripture says—It's perpetually loving and forgiving even while they remain my enemies! Jesus is saying my love is so broad, so wide, so all?encompassing and unending that there's room enough for everyone in the forgiveness line—including your enemies! So, can we give the unexpected even while being rejected? I know it's tough.
Have your prayers been answered lately? Jesus says in Mark 11:24-25 NLT: “24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. 25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”
So, there is a direct connection between the effectiveness of our prayers and the acting out of forgiveness. God is saying I want you to walk out the act of forgiveness—take care of that grudge against your brother or your sister. Then not only will you receive forgiveness, but you'll also have your prayers answered!
1 Peter 3:7 NLT says: “7 In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.”
So, does the way that I treat my wife determine whether or not God will answer my prayers? Guys, the answer is yes. For some of us this is like a mind explosion—lights coming on, suddenly realizing that's the reason my prayers are never answered—it's the way I treat my wife! We may think that's not fair, but the Lord says, “It's all connected. You can't come to me and say, 'I need this. Can you help me with this?' if you've been treating the one that I put under your care in a way that is unworthy, unforgiving, and not right.” It’s all connected!
The proof that we are forgivers is that we'll see our prayers answered! If not, ask yourself: How have I been treating my spouse, my kids, my friends, co?workers, and boss? The answer starts with forgiveness and the way we treat others!