Faithlife Sermons

Learning to Forgive Authentically

The Pursuit of Revival  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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In Sept of 2018, a police officer by the name of Amber Guyger, entered an apartment in Dallas, TX which she mistook for her own. She entered and saw a black man on a couch eating. She shot him, only to find out later she entered the wrong apartment. A year later she went to trial and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. But not before the brother of the victim was allowed to take the stand. You would’ve thought that after all the pain of not being able to see his brother again, he would’ve lashed out in anger and satisfaction at her sentence. But then he, Brandt Jean, shocked the world when he said to her “I forgive you!” Even adding nearly a minute long hug to the woman. Today I want to teach on the subject of “Learning to Forgive Authentically”, and learn what we must hold in our hearts if we are going to have authentic forgiveness.
When we have a guilty conscience (v. 15-18):
We can make faulty assumptions (v. 15)
Which might cause unwarranted fears (v. 15)
We feel inferior and beg for forgiveness (v. 16-18)
Remotely and personally
When we forgive authentically (v. 19-21):
We recognize retaliation is not our position (v. 19)
Grudges and retaliation attempts to usurp God’s position
We recognize God’s providence and purpose prevails humans’ (v. 20)
God transforms evil for my good
God’s purpose is to save
We return good for evil (v. 21)
Roughly 22 years had past since Joseph expressed his shift of perspective through naming his two sons. That was tested when his brothers arrived in Egypt looking for food. Disguising himself, he made his brothers prove that his younger brother and father were still alive. Then Joseph revealed himself, and long story short, he had his father and his entire family brought to Egypt. Jacob lived in Goshen, near Egypt, for 17 years and then it came time for him to die. Before we see what’s necessary to demonstrate authentic forgiveness and it’s link to revival, we need to first see what it’s like to live with a guilty conscience and it’s link to revival.
When we have a guilty conscience
After Jacob died, those 10 who did Joseph wrong started having fresh regrets about their past behavior. What they did was horrible, and definitely led by the spirit of evil. This was so messed up in their minds that they start having this weight of guilt even after 39 years.
Application: When we truly come to terms with our guilt, it should not be a light matter. We covered this in the first message out of Psalm 51. But if we haven’t properly addressed GOD and the parties we offended, that guilt can hang in our hearts and we won’t let it go. And we can walk around for years and years mainly thinking about how wrong we were. But not just that, watch what grows out of this guilty conscience.
We can make faulty assumptions
They say “What if?” Which means that their thinking was not grounded in facts or evidence, it was rather unstable on assumptions and uncertainty of what could be. In other words they had faulty assumptions.
Application: When we have a guilty conscience, we will operate more on “What if” rather than “What is”. And “what is”, which is what’s true and real, no longer governs or influences my thought process. And if I operate more off of “what if” or assumptions, my guilty conscience can lead me to the same frame of mind as Joseph’s brothers.
Which might cause unwarranted fears
Watch their “What if” or assumption - Joseph might have had resentment all this time and planning to fully retaliate on all of us in full. Thus, their guilt resurfaced and faulty assumptions have lead them to a state of fear of Joseph that is completely unwarranted. What’s interesting, is when Joseph disguised himself, in ch 42:18-25 you hear them doing something similar, claiming their past wrong was why they were being questioned the way they were. And here it is 17 years after that, they’re doing it again.
Application: Prov 28:1 says “The wicked run away when no one is chasing”. Every little thing that happens in life we will link it back to that one thing we did wrong. Not only that, but we begin distrusting people, thinking that people are out to get us when no grounds have been given for such fear. All this shows that they were in a deep need of revival!!
We feel inferior and beg for forgiveness
Sometimes remotely and personally
All of that guilt, assumption, and unwarranted fear lead them to appeal to Joseph for his forgiveness. They appeal the first time remotely, sending someone to Joseph with a dying message from “His” father to forgive them, and then they refer to themselves as the servants of Jacob’s GOD. Then personally by subordination and speaking of their servitude.
Application: This is a real feeling and process when you’ve done something wrong. We’ve all seen movies or shows of that boyfriend on his knees, asking his girlfriends friend to talk to her for him, because he’s appealing for forgiveness for something he did however long ago. See in moments of like these, we feel inferior and low because of what we’ve done. Recognizing and admitting our wrong, and asking for forgiveness is the right thing to do. But there are some wrongs that are so heavy that it brings us to our knees, feeling inferior, and causes us to search every remote and personal avenue possible to beg for forgiveness: cards, random texts, etc.
When we forgive authentically
Now that we’ve seen the mind state and desperateness of Joseph’s brothers, we need to see Joseph’s response. It is this seed that I want to plant deeper in all of our hearts, especially those of us who believe in Christ and are a part of his kingdom. The first response Joseph has to the message sent to him, in v. 17, is he cries. I believe Joseph cries because he just can’t believe his brothers could be so suspicious of him.
Application: Listen, this is another point where your and my personal revival in Christ begins touching someone else. I talked about how our revived praise can touch others. Well it is also when we demonstrate spiritual mature results of our sanctification. Because some folks will doubt you or I have really changed. Or they will think we’ve been keeping it cool all this time on the basis of somebody else. And those are the opportunities to demonstrate and reassure them that our forgiveness is authentic!! Well shows authentic forgiveness?
We recognize retaliation is not our position
Joseph responds and tells them to calm down their fears about him and what he could or would do to them, and the basis he gives is this question “Am I in God’s place?” He recognized that vengeance or retaliation is not his position.
Application: If we’re going to authentically forgive and let go of the wrong someone did to us, we must recognize retaliation is not our place.
Grudges and retaliation attempts to usurp God’s position
Application: Here’s a deeper look into this statement. If you and I hold a grudge, harbor bitter feelings, plan to retaliate, glad for the bad upon those who did us wrong, those feelings thoughts and actions are attempts to usurp or take over God’s rightful position. See some of us want people bowing down, feeling inferior, and begging for us not to do them no harm, so they recognize who we are, etc. But essentially Joseph is telling his brothers to stand up, I’m a man just like you are!! Thus, if we’re going to pour our revived hearts, on those who need it in their feelings of guilt, we’ve gotta make sure we’re not attempting to move GOD out his rightful seat of vengeance, judgment, or retaliation.
We recognize God’s providence and purpose prevails humans’
Then Joseph again shows how GOD has changed his glasses and he has kept them on all this time. He recognizes what they intended, indeed. But recognizes that God’s intentions always prevail!
God transforms evil for my good
Application: You and I have to remember, through our faith in the almighty GOD, that ALL THINGS work together for the good of them that Love GOD!! If we’re going to really forgive folk, we need to be able to see God’s power and providence beyond those moments. No matter what it is. They did this and that just on yesterday. God will transform it for my good!
God’s purpose is to save
See Joseph also recognized the good and better purpose of GOD, and that was to preserve or save life of others using him as an instrument. Joseph told them this 17 years ago when he first revealed himself to them, now he’s reiterating it, which demonstrated he kept the same perspective because it was right and in truth of GOD.
Application: When we remember that GOD has a grander purpose, and that is to save others using me as a vessel, you and I won’t harbor how ill we’re treated. That’s how Stephen could look up to heaven and cry out, forgive them. Do we not realize that GOD would love for all mankind to be saved!?! And if people in the world, and perhaps who have started in Christ, have brand new feelings of guilt and can’t find no relief with the kingdom, we have lost touch with the purpose of GOD and Jesus!!!
We return good for evil
Because Joseph understood his place, God’s providence, and God’s grander purpose through and beyond his life, he gave them a commitment of kindness, not on the basis of their merit, but because of the kindness GOD has filled his heart with.
Application: Authentic forgiveness also means you and I will show real acts of goodness and kindness toward those same folk. Whoever and wherever they are. We got folk on our job right now, who said some racist remarks. Folk right now who done did all kinds of wrongful acts toward us. Our job, is not to make them feel any wrath or fury, but to keep speaking a kind, humble, bold, and blessed word to them.
Can’t you see Christ in this! Just like Joseph’s brothers, we are often disturbed and re-disturbed by our guilty consciences, moved by assumptions instead of facts about GOD, become fearful of his judgment all over, begging through all avenues for his forgiveness. Then the knowledge of and faith in Christ assures over and over again that he forgives, and GOD revives our spirits, and blesses over and over again. Will we commit this day, if you are truly pursuing revival, gain better perspective, that for whoever that it is from our past. Wherever they’re from. That when the time comes, you will pour your revived heart on them through ready and willing forgiveness!!
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