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Bridge Builders  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:55
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Today we are starting a new series called Bridge Builders. When you think of a bridge builder you think of someone that designed a structure to allow people access from one point to another. Usually bridges are used to drive a car from one point to another.
One of the most famous bridges in the United States is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA. Joseph Strauss was the lead engineer for the Golden Gate Bridge. It took four years to build the bridge. The bridge weighs 840 million tons. But we’re not here to talk about actual bridges. We are here to talk about you and you being a Bridge Builder.
One of the most frightening words in the English Language is actually the word forgive. Bridge Builders are people who are well acquainted with forgiveness because they are well aware of the forgiveness that God has offered them in Christ.
When you look at our world today, you see many people that seem to store up bitterness, hurt, unforgiveness, pain and I could go on and on. The truth is our world needs Jesus and His message of forgiveness more than ever.
We all will need forgiveness at some point in our life. Whether we have done someone wrong or someone has done us wrong. And if you haven’t already the first step is to ask Jesus for forgiveness. And begin today by making Him the Lord of your life.
There is a story about a boy who visits his grandparents and he gets his first slingshot. He practices in the woods, but he never hits his target. As he leaves his grandparent’s backyard, he sees a pet duck. On an impulse, he takes aim and lets it fly. The stone hits the duck, and it falls dead.
The boy panics. Desperately, he hides the duck in the woodpile, only to look up to find his sister Sally saw the whole thing. After lunch that day, Grandma says, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes.” But Sally says, “Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn’t you Johnny?” And she whispers to him, “Remember the duck!” So Johnny does the dishes. Later Grandpa asks if the children want to go fishing. Grandma said, “I’m sorry, but I need Sally to help make supper.” Sally smiles and says, “That’s all taken care of. Johnny wants to do it.” Again, Sally leans over and whispers to Johnny, “Remember the duck.” Johnny stays while Sally goes fishing. After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally’s, finally he can’t stand it. Johnny confesses to his Grandma. To his surprise, Grandma says, “I know Johnny,” giving him a hug. “I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. Because I love you, I forgave you. I wondered how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.”
The point of this story? We’ve all wronged someone or been wronged in our lives. In this story, Johnny took the path of hiding his wrongdoing rather than seeking forgiveness. It eventually became a burden too large for him to handle on his own.
How could things be different in Johnny’s story if he’d simply asked for forgiveness right away? How could things be different in your story if you were to ask for or show someone forgiveness today?
Remember, it’s not a matter of if, but when. When will you need to be forgiven? When will you need to show forgiveness to someone?
If you have your bibles, go with me to the book of Colossians. It is one of Paul’s letters to one of the churches that he ministered to on one of his missionary journey’s. Go to chapter 3.
Colossians 3:13–14 NIV
13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
The word bear in the Greek is Anecho which means to hold up or to endure. Paul is telling us that we need to hold each other up and endure with one another if there is a grievance between us. He also says that we must forgive one another, as Christ has forgiven us.
Then in verse 14 Paul adds a little word that all of us should us. That word is love. Each of us should show forgiveness in love. One of the biggest reasons why we stop loving people is because we can’t forgive them.
Marital Infidelity is one of the leading causes of divorce. According to a study from the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, as many as 25% of married men and 15% of married woman have had extramarital affairs. This causes hurt feelings, broken trust, and potentially irreconcilable differences.
I’m not saying that you don’t have the right to be angry or hurt or lose trust in the person not just in marriage but in any relationship, but if you let bitterness tear at you then you will not be able to move forward in your life.
So, how do we do this?
Before the Golden Gate Bridge was build in 1933. They would use a ferry boat to move cars across the bay. They would make several trips a day. The one group of people that didn’t want the bridge was the ferry boat drives because it would cut into their business. But finally they gave in and okayed the bridge to be built. What is keeping you from building a bridge in your life.

Building Starts With Good Blueprints

Paul gives us a blueprint for the process of forgiveness.
Remember I said that the word bear in the Greek is Anecho which means to hold up or to endure with each other if there is a grievance or offense between you and someone else. This is the place where so many of us jump ship. It is so much easier to get rid of that person from our life. It’s easier just to avoid a difficult relationship. But thank goodness that is not the path that Jesus chose with all of us. He did something different. He became the ultimate sacrifice and went to the cross to bring forgiveness for us. He’s not asking that of you. He’s just asking you to forgive the person that has wronged you.
That doesn’t mean that you have to be there best friend. It means that we treat each other like human beings. Show kindness and forgiveness. We can have different views in politics and still show love for one another. We can have different views in religion and still have love for one another. We can break up and go our separate ways show one another forgiveness and love each other.
1 Peter 5:7 NIV
7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
The process of forgiveness can be a difficult thing to accomplish, but if we seek the right blueprint, as we move from our old life to a new life in Christ, we can take all our burdens and all our anxieties to the cross.
There is a freedom in forgiveness.
There is a joy in reconciliation.

Choose Forgiveness

Forgiveness is wonderful and just as it is wonderful, it is also true that resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness are horrible ways to live.
Look at what Jesus says about unforgiveness.
Matthew 6:14–15 NIV
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.
If we choose not to forgive, and we choose to carry the burden, hold the grudge, then we won’t be forgiven by God.
Go to Luke 7:40-50
Luke 7:40–50 NIV
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. 41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Jesus paints us a picture of forgiveness with this story. Many of us can relate to the point of borrowing and lending. How many times has someone wronged you and the first thing that comes to mind when you want to restore the relationship is, “Well, they owe me an apology.”
Think about your sins for a moment. We commit sins every single day. Imagine if Jesus put parameters around what should be forgiven or what should not.
Now think about how God forgives each of us.
God holds back his anger, he bears with us over and over again.
God meets us where we are in our sin to offer His grace and mercy.
God always makes the first move to forgive.
God continues to forgive us even though He knows we will continue to sin, and sometimes the same sin.
God will continue to reach out to us for reconciliation.
There is no probation period with God, He is always ready to forgive.
We can never begin a forgiveness process if we put parameters on our forgiveness. I’ll forgive you but I’ll never forget about it. If we do this then all we have done is made the gap larger. This is not building a bridge.
We have to seek to be more like Christ in the area of forgiveness. You probably won’t get it all figured out after the first try, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

Start Building

Any good contractor starts with good blueprints, good plans. The example of Jesus gives us the best blueprint for forgiveness in the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, we are shown over and over again that love, grace, and forgiveness are what wins the day in the lives of people.
Joseph Strauss finished the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937. In order for him to complete this massive project during the middle of the depression was long hours, tough work, thousands of workers, and most importantly blueprints and plans that helped create this massive structure.
As Christians we are called to bind everything we do together with love. Just like those workers came together to build that massive bridge, we must come together to create a beautiful bridge that will close the chasm we see in our world today, using the blueprints God has given us.
It’s going to be hard. It’s going to require lots of work. It may even require other people to support you. But there is a peace when it is all done.
Colossians 3:15 NIV
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Paul encourages us to forgive each other even if you think the person does not deserve it. Forgiveness has nothing to do with whether someone deserves it or not, it is all about grace.
Forgiveness is at the forefront of what Jesus teaches us all.
Jesus doesn’t require anything, he paid the price for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus died on the cross for us to cleanse us from our sins.
The Bible is our blueprint on how we are called to bridge the gap. Forgiveness won’t be easy, but as we continue to live our lives for Christ, we can look to Him as our contractor. He has all the plans and has laid out those plans for each of us today.
Let me give you some homework for this week.
Make plans to come back next Sunday. Join us each week will help you in learning to forgive someone that has wronged you in the past.
Think of someone that you need to forgive and extend that forgiveness to them this week. Don’t let bitterness fester like a sore. Take care of it now rather than later.
Let’s pray.
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