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#4 Fireproofing Relationships - Forgiveness

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Fireproofing Relationships – Forgiveness

PPT Colossians 3:12-17

12 Since God chose you [as the elect of God] to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves [The verb is imperative in mode. This is a command to be obeyed. It is aorist in tense, which means that the command must be obeyed at once.] [Thayer, “put on”  “to become so possessed o the mind of Christ as in thought, feeling, and action to resemble Him and, as it were, reproduce the life He lived] with tenderhearted mercy [bowels – splanchnon – “tender sympathy of heartfelt compassion”], kindness, humility, gentleness [meekness – “an inwrought grace of the soul, that temper of spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting], and patience [longsuffering – . 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults [(i.e., “put up with each other”)], and forgive [("to show favor, give freely [cancel a debt Luke 7:42 woman alabaster – 500 pieces 50 pieces silver]" – χαρίζομαι (charizomai)] anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. (NLT)

PPT Video Clip – Fireproof_Forgiveness.mpg 5:33

Caleb and Catherine Holt’s marriage is in freefall – she had filed for divorce – sorry and forgiveness were concepts rarely included in their conversation. In this scene Caleb says “I am sorry…I am hoping, and praying that somehow, you will be able to forgive me too…”

If you happen to be married to someone or in relationship with someone who is not absolutely perfect, then at some point in your relationship —perhaps fairly often—you must know how to forgive or ask forgiveness.

Heb 12:15—“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” I would paraphrase that first part, “Make sure no one fails to receive enough of God’s grace.”

 

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One of the most difficult struggles in interpersonal conflict is practicing forgiveness. It’s a difficult subject to preach on. I spoke with someone recently and said, “I’m preaching on forgiveness… wot should I say…”

PPT “Forgiveness is achingly difficult, and long after you’ve forgiven, the wound lives on in the memory. Forgiveness is an unnatural act – it is blatantly unfair.” Yancey

PPT “Despite a hundred sermons on forgiveness, we do not forgive easily, nor find ourselves easily forgiven. Forgiveness, we discover, is always harder than the sermons make it out to be,” writes Elizabeth OConnor.

We nurse sores, go to elaborate lengths to rationalise our behaviour, perpetuate family feuds, punish ourselves, punish others – all to avoid this most unnatural act.

PPT BLANK SLIDE

Lewis Smedes “The Art of Forgiving” – "When we forgive," he says, "we set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner we set free is us."

There is one way to heal yourself and maintain healthy relationships. It is not one way among many. It is the only way. God invented it. We call it forgiving. And God tells us to try it for ourselves.

"Forgive each other," Bible says "as God in Christ forgave you" Col 2:10-14

It is so simple. And yet people often misunderstand what forgiving is. And what it isn’t. So I want to share some simple things about forgiving just to clear up some mistaken notions about God’s way of healing unfair pain.

PPT Dispel the Myths

Some of our misunderstandings clutter the path to healing. Let’s consider some commonly held myths.

PPT Myth 1 – forgiving means forgetting

Early in their marriage, Bruce did something really stupid. His wife chewed him out for it. He apologized, they made up.

However, from time to time, his wife mentions what he had done.

"Honey," Bruce finally said one day, "why do you keep bringing that up? I thought your policy was 'forgive and forget.'"

"It is," she said. "I just don't want you to forget that I've forgiven and forgotten."

We want to acknowledge that remembering is essential for forgiveness. The catchy phrase “forgive and forget” is not based on reality nor on the Bible. Perhaps it is based on our discomfort with pain, our difficulty acknowledging the emotions of anger and hatred, and the denial that is a common response to an offence.

“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”

Healing is available – comes by remembering the offence, not by forgetting.

PPT Myth 2 – Forgiving means accepting the offense

But the wrongs can never be justified or acceptable. All forms of abuse – physical, emotional, and sexual – have no place in any family or relationships.

Forgiveness is not denial or indifference, pardon, reconciliation, condoning, excusing, passive forgetting, weakness, or an interpersonal game.

Forgive those who wrong you, but do not tolerate their wrong doing. Forgive them and tell them what Jesus told people he forgave: You are forgiven for what you did, but stop it, don’t do it again.

PPT Myth 3 – Forgiving is automatic

But our first tendency as humans is to respond to offence with offence, violence with violence, anger with anger.

If you hurt me, I want to hurt you back. Reflection is often required before we relinquish that instinctive urge to inflict pain in response to injury.

PPT Myth 4 – Forgiving is a quick, one-time event

Most people experience forgiveness as a process. It may occur quickly for a few individuals. However, generally it occurs over a longer period of time.

PPT Question: How do we forgive others?

God chose you to be the holy people… you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.

PPT Answer: Thomas Watson (English non-conformist Puritan preacher 1600’s) When we strive against all thoughts of revenge; when we will not do our enemies mischief, but wish well to them, grieve at their calamities, pray for them, seek reconciliation with them, and show ourselves ready on all occasions to help them.

I think this is a very biblical definition of forgiveness. Each of its parts comes from a passage of Scripture.

1.       PPT Resist thoughts of revenge: Romans 12:19, "Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord."

2.       PPT Don't seek to do them mischief: 1 Thessalonians 5:15, "See that no one repays another with evil for evil.

3.       PPT Wish well to them: Luke 6:28, "Bless those who curse you."

4.       PPT Grieve at their calamities: Proverbs 24:17, "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles."

5.       PPT Pray for them: Matthew 5:44, "But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you."

6.       PPT Seek reconciliation with them: Romans 12:18, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men."

7.       PPT Be always willing to come to their relief: Exodus 23:4, "If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him."

Here is forgiveness: when you feel that someone is your enemy or when you simply feel that you or someone you care about has been wronged, forgiveness means,

resisting revenge,

not returning evil for evil,

wishing them well,

grieving at their calamities,

praying for their welfare,

seeking reconciliation so far as it depends on you,

and coming to their aid in distress.

All these point to a forgiving heart. And the heart is all important Jesus said in Matthew 18:35—"unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

Here in Colossians 3 the word is charizomenoi – means freely or graciously give. The idea is of not exacting payment – but treating someone better than they deserve.

So in this sense, you forgive when someone has wronged you, and therefore, they are in debt to you, and sheer justice says you have the right to exact some suffering from them in payment for the suffering they caused you, and you choose not only to not demand the payment, but you “freely give” good for evil.

PPT BLANK SLIDE Forgiveness says: I will not treat you badly because of your sins against me or your annoying habits.

That is the meaning of this word (charizomai).

Forgiveness is a grace gift – it is essential for any relationship to survive.

Theologically – the gospels give a straightforward answer to why God asks us to forgive: because that is what God is like.

When Jesus first gave the command, “Love your enemies,” he added this rationale: “…that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Forgiveness is actually a profound transaction.

It is the working model of the human relationship with God.

Conclusion

Lewis Smedes “The Art of Forgiving” asked the question: “Now you have to make the hard decision. Do you want to spend the rest of your life with a pain that you did not deserve to get in the first place? Or do you want to be rid of it, healed, freed from it, so that you can go on with your life without that painful memory shadowing you?”

  1. *PPT Remember this: The first person to get the benefits of forgiving is the person who does the forgiving.
  2. *PPT Forgivers are not doormats – Some people have the notion that if you forgive you make yourself a doormat for people to walk on. A wimp. Nothing could be more wrong than this.
  3. *PPT You don’t have to wait until he/she says they’re sorry
    If you wait for the lout who hurt you to repent, you may have to wait forever. And then you are the one who is stuck with the pain. If you wait for the person who hurt you to say she’s sorry, you are giving her permission to keep on hurting you as long as you live.
  4. *PPT Forgiving is a journey.
    Some people suppose that you should be able to forgive everything in a single minute and be done with it.
    God can forgive in the twinkling of an eye, but we are not God.

    Most of us need some time. Especially if the hurt went deep and the wrong was bad. So when you forgive, be patient with yourself.

PPT Blank slide

And remember this: The first person who gets the benefit of forgiving is always the person who does the forgiving. When you forgive a person who wronged you, you set a prisoner free, and then you discover that the prisoner you set free is you.

When you forgive, you walk hand in hand with the very God who forgives you everything for the sake of his Son. When you forgive, you heal the hurts you never should have felt in the first place.

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