Notes for Sunday February 26, 2017
Letting go of the weight of the past
Scripture Text: Ephesians 4:32
We’ve spent 3 weeks talking about what God-honoring homes and families look like, and honestly we’ve just scratched the surface. So, I encourage you to keep searching out what God’s word says about home and family so that you can continue to strengthen yours. Over the last few weeks we’ve talked about roles within the family and how we can support and show love to each other as husbands, wives, moms, dads, and kids. We’ve also looked at ways to avoid conflict in your home.
Today we’re talking about what happens when your best efforts fail and someone gets hurt. It happens to all of us, and it’s easy to let that baggage accumulate over time and turn in to a heavy load of bitterness. Anger, hurt, and even fear pile up and eventually sours into something that continues to weaken our relationships and hinder our worship. But today can be the day that you let go of all of that. Today you can be free from the weight of the past by following God’s example of forgiveness.
Read and pray
Forgiveness is not a small thing. It’s the power to release someone from bondage. Sometimes it releases the guilty, but it always releases the one who was hurt.
It’s not ignoring sin and/or hurt
Forgiveness doesn’t ignore sin or hurt. Actually, it’s just the opposite. In order for true forgiveness to take place the damage that was done has to be acknowledged. Going back to Matthew 18 Jesus taught that the road to forgiveness begins with lovingly exposing the offense so that it could be fully dealt with.
Ignoring a sin or the hurt that it causes only leads to more damage in the future.
It’s not ignoring the victim
Forgiveness also doesn’t ignore the victim. We do sometimes. We encourage someone to rush to forgive because their pain makes us uncomfortable. Or worse, we push them to pretend like they’re not hurting and call it forgiveness because we think that’s what God would want.
These attitudes fail to recognize the legitimate pain that the one who was hurt is feeling. Rushing someone to a forgiveness that’s not genuine does not help them and is the opposite of weeping with those who weep. It’s also failing to carry the burdens of others, and it cheapens the real forgiveness that Christ modeled for us.
It is seeking restoration
Real forgiveness acknowledges the offense and the hurt it has caused so that restoration can take place. Restoration is God’s plan for all of us. Jesus’ death enabled us to be restored to God and also provides us with what we need to be restored to each other. Forgiveness isn’t about ignoring what has been done, sweeping it under the rug, or just letting someone off the hook because they said they’re sorry. It’s facing the ugliness of what has been done so that the brokenness of the relationship can be healed.
That’s why the discussion of forgiveness comes right after Jesus’ teaching on dealing with broken relationships in Matthew 18. Remember this from last week?
Check your motives
Seek reconciliation privately
Go again with witnesses
Involve the church
If all else fails and they refuse to be reconciled, break fellowship
The first step is checking your motives, or remembering that you are doing this to seek reconciliation. The very next step is seeking reconciliation privately. Ultimately this is the one who has been hurt going to the one who hurt them and exposing the offense that took place. That is how Jesus wants us to acknowledge the sin and the hurt is caused, but here’s the thing. It’s not about punishing the one who wronged you. It’s about dealing with the sin so that you can heal the relationship. It’s getting things in the open so that you can forgive.
The very next thing that is discussed is how many times we should forgive an offense.
It is letting go of bitterness
So, sin and hurt are exposed in this process in order to deal with them so that the one who was hurt has a chance to let go of the pain and anger before they turn into bitterness. Forgiveness isn’t easy. In fact it’s painful at first. It’s a choice: a choice to not hold a grudge, to not become bitter, and to not continually bring up the past.
Matthew 5 – forgiveness means opening yourself up to future hurt (turn the other cheek)
Matthew 18 – it’s also forgiving over and over again
It’s giving to others the very thing that God gave to us. Summarize parable of the unmerciful servant from Matthew 18.
Motivation – verses Ephesians 4:32
Response to God’s love
We forgive because of the love God showed us when He forgave us.
Recognize how great my sin is
We forgive because we understand how great our own sin is. The one who refuses to forgive others fails to understand the weight of their own sin.
The Bible teaches that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. (Romans 3:23)
It also teaches that it is that sin, all of our sin, which sent Jesus to the cross.
Recognize how great my forgiveness is
We forgive others because we understand how much we have been forgiven. In Jesus’ parable the first servant was forgiven of an unbelievably large debt, but refused to forgive someone else who owed him the equivalent of a few bucks. We are the first servant. We have been forgiven a vast amount of sin and the sins of others against us pale in comparison. If we will get a hold of that it will helps us to let go of being angry at others for hurting us.
Wholeheartedly seek restoration
Let go of the hurt and anger as many times as it takes until it’s gone
- Begin with you – You can’t forgive until you have experienced forgiveness
- Freely forgive others – Give others what God gave you through Jesus