Dealing with Unforgiveness
Speaker: Rev. Shine Thomas
We all expect breakthrough in our life isn’t it? Even after praying and fasting for a long time sometimes we are unable to find a breakthrough. Some of you are wondering why God is not answering you whereas God has been gracious to others. Today I am starting a new series on ‘Hindrances to Blessings’ and one of the major hindrances for our blessings is an unforgiving heart.
This morning we are going to see the symptoms of unforgiveness and the forgiveness of God.
Ephesians 4:31-32 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Joke: One Sunday during his sermon, a preacher asks the congregation how many are willing to forgive their enemies. They all raised their hands except for one elderly lady in the back pew. The preacher noticed her and asked, "Mrs. Peter, why aren't you willing to forgive your enemies?" "Well, I don't have any," she replied. "Mrs. Peter, you're 96 years old and have no enemies?” No she said. “Oh Mrs. Peter, would you please come to the front and tell us all how a person can live 96 years and not have a single enemy in the world?” The old woman went to the stage, faced the congregation, and said: “All my enemies have died.”
Many of us have had hurtful experiences from the ones whom we truly and sacrificially love. Maybe some of you may have gone through those experiences a while ago or some of you are going through it now. The problem with hurt feelings is that how much ever time has passed by we can still have bitterness towards them in our hearts. Understand people can hurt us a million ways but it is we who make a choice to forgive them or not. We must make a choice to forgive others because Christ forgave us.
Now many of you maybe telling me pastor, “Yes, people have hurt me but I am fine, I do not have any problem.” Today I want to give you some tips to detect an unforgivieness.
Let us go to the parable of the lost son in Luke 15. I want to illustrate to you the attitude of the elder son but to know him fully we need to understand the prodigal son first. There was a man who had 2 sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Soon the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’
In his father’s house he was constantly asking give me, give me, give me my inheritance. After a little time with the pigs he changed his mind and asked the father make me, make me. See the transition from give me to make me. We need to change from give me what I want to Lord make me what you want me to be. But sometimes we are so stubborn and we need a few trips to the pigs for God to change our mind to ‘make me Lord.’
So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Now look at the attitude of the elder son. Luke 15:25-28 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.
1. An unforgiving heart is never happy.
There are many people like this elder brother who do not even like a party. They do not like the music and dancing in the house. They get mad at others because they are happy, they do not want anyone to enjoy. Such people cannot stand the people who are happy. They feel they are doing all the work, we are taking all burden but the others in the family are just so casual and enjoying life. There are some elder brothers like that in the family.
He was in the family but not in the house, did not relate to anyone in the house, so he did not go to the party. There are lot of people that are officially in the family but do not belong to the family. They do not want to be happy; they do not want to enjoy the happiness and good times of the family. They always have something negative.
Likewise, there are many in the church who do not want to enter the party of the Holy Spirit. Such people are sometimes angry with a fellow believer, the pastor, and sometimes they are even angry with God for their unanswered prayers. They do not sing, clap their hands, or worship and say, “I am not in the Holy Spirit party.” Enjoy the happiness at your house; enjoy the presence of God at church. Don’t stay negative, upset, angry, and down. Enjoy the party.
There is joy in the presence of God. There is joy in a godly family. Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Get over the elder brother mentality. Love one another. That is the greatest commandment. Jesus said in Luke 10:27 "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Love your wife, husband, father, mother, children. Do not be mad at your family and always keep picking on them. Get over it, forgive them. Enjoy the party.
2. An unforgiving heart is angry when their offender is blessed.
Luke 15:28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.
When you go through a crisis, when people are partial towards you (maybe at your work place or at your family). We usually get angry at your opponent. But a forgiving heart will stop getting mad at others and ask God, “Do I have got something to learn in this” A forgiving heart will say, “I know it is not God’s will to get what I wanted but I am ready to work with my opponent.” Harboring bitterness stops our own blessings.
3. An unforgiving heart boasts of self-sacrifice.
Luke 15:29 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.
They say, “I have never done the things that you have done.” “I am always doing all the work. I do all the work in the office and at house.” I take care of the kids, finances are my responsibility, I take initiative for this and that.” Remember both the husband and wife have equal responsibilities in the family matters, but it usually the unforgiving one who constantly keeps boasting of ones sacrifice.
4. An unforgiving heart keeps account of wrong, always accuses.
Luke 15:30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
The elder son is boasting on what he has done for the father and always accusing the wrong of his brother.
Such people bring up things from the past, right from the day one of marriage they will have a story to tell.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 4 Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 Love is not easily angered. Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Listen, he is not calling his younger brother, brother. He says your son. Many times we speak the same when we are angry with others. The husband will tell his wife, “Your daughter,” wife says, “You father and son” “You mother and daughter.” Enjoy the good times.
5. An unforgiving heart withdraws.
The elder son never went to the party. Such people bring division and separate themselves from others in the family. Where there is something good happening in the house they usually withdraw and do not enjoy the moment.
Forgive one another and enjoy the party, celebrate and be glad. Enjoy your family, enjoy the fellowship at church. Enjoy the times that God has given us. Don’t be sad and angry. Even if you are angry the party will go on, so why be angry?
In Matthew 18 Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
The rabbinic teaching taught that a man has to forgive his brother three times if he begs pardon for an offence. Peter said, “I am ready to forgive double than the law (three multiplied by two and added with one).” On this occasion Peter thought that he was very generous in forgiving and expected Jesus to commend him. Jesus’ answer was that a Christian must forgive seventy times seven. In other words there should not be any limit to our forgiveness.
Jesus then proceeded to tell them this parable. Matthew 18:23-35 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
In this parable Jesus is bringing out some truths on forgiveness.
1. God forgave us, He expects us to forgive others.
Joke: Two little brothers, Harry and James, had finished supper and were playing until bedtime. Somehow, Harry hit James with a stick, and tears and bitter words followed. They were still fighting with one another as their mother prepared them for bed. She said, “Now boys, what would happen if Jesus came tonight and you never had the opportunity again for forgive one another?” James spoke up, “Well, ok, I’ll forgive him for tonight, but if Jesus does not come until the morning, then I will show him what I am.”
In the parable the king forgave the servant ten thousand bags of gold. He let him off unpunished, without any condition. However the forgiven man could not forgive his servant a hundred silver coins and took him to prison.
Now look at the difference between the 10,000 bags of gold and 100 silver coins. In Jesus’ time the total revenue of a wealthy province like Galilee was only 300 bags of gold. 10,000 bags of God was a huge amount. It took an army of 8600 soldiers to carry 10,000 bags of gold whereas 100 silver coins can be carried in one pocket.
When we compare how much God has forgiven us, nothing we can do in our capacity to match the forgiveness of God. If God has forgiven our huge debts our sins and mistakes, we must do everything in our capacity to forgive others. On the cross it was not the Romans soldiers who were hurting Jesus it was our sins. Remember every of our sins hurt Jesus the most. Jesus forgave us unconditionally and he expects us to forgive others unconditionally.
2. We must forgive in order to be forgiven.
Unforgiveness prevents God to forgive our sins.
In the parable that we read the king had forgiven his servant ten thousand gold coins but he was unable to forgive another man 100 silver coins. The king called the servant back and put him in the prison to punish him for his forgiven debts.
Listen, if we are harboring unforgiveness in our hearts our pardon can be taken off and for the very forgiven sins we can be judged and punished.
Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Matthew 6:14-15 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.
3. Unforgiveness opens up the way for the devil.
Matthew 18:32-34 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
Unforgivenss gives devil the advantage. He was handed over by his master to the tormentors. Unforgiveness opens the way to Satan to hinder your blessings. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
Maybe you are going through that trouble and your prayers are not answered because you are unable to forgive and take that bitterness out of your heart towards that person who hurt you. Forgive as Christ forgave you.
Illustration: I remember the real story of a sister who came to be prayed for severe migraine severe headaches. The church prayed and the pastor prayed, there was absolutely no deliverance. The next fasting prayer she came again to be prayed for the same problem. This time around the pastor asked her, “Do you have bitterness in your heart?” She said, “No, I’m fine.” The pastor said, “The Lord is telling me your family. Is there anyone you hate in your family?” “Yes, my cheating husband and my mother-in-law.” “You know they have been so bad to me, I cannot forgive them.” God spoke through the pastor, “If you can forgive them your migraine will be healed.”
The sister went back home and it took her 6 months to come over the anger and bitterness towards her husband and mother-in-law. In the process she was healed of her migraine and her husband became totally devoted towards her.
Take that bitter feeling out of your heart. What about the person who wronged you? Let God sort that out. He is righteous, sovereign, and just. In time, even the one who wronged you will stand before God in judgment. Your responsibility is simply to let go of all resentment and have a clear heart before God.
Note: Forgiveness does not mean that you become like a doormat and people take advantage of you. Jesus Christ forgave us but he has set conditions for our salvation, no turning back to sin. When you forgive take out that bitterness out of your heart but be wise that you are not taken for granted again.
First of all let’s ask God to forgive us. Secondly, take time to think of people who have hurt us and unconditionally forgive them. Forgive one another, enjoy the party and be glad. Amen.
Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/lucasincas/6696284419/
This sermon belongs to the series Hindrances to Blessings. Other sermons in this series: