Life’s Healing Choices: Relationships

Life's Healing Choices: Relationships

Sermon Audio

 

Small Group Study Video

Life’s Healing Choices: Relationships

Matthew 5:7; Matthew 5:9; Matthew 18:21–35

The Relationship Choice: I evaluate all my relationships, offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me, and make amends for harm I’ve done to other, except when to do so would harm them or others.

 

Life is all about relationships.

Visiting our daughter… When we left, I found myself wishing we had more time with her at home. Wishing I hadn’t taken for granted all the time she was here. Wishing I had back all the time she spent in her room and we were down the hall. But we can’t go back, the best thing we can do is make the best of today.

Life is all about relationships… With others, with God, with yourself. Having healthy relationships TODAY is what living healthy is really all about.

That’s what brings us to this next choice. Up until now we have been looking at our hurts, habits, and hangups from a practical perspective, as actions or behaviors; you know the things we do, the ways we think, the things that were done to us.

We tend to think of them in terms of behaviors.

But we experience them, we live them out on the day to day in the context of relationships.

My over spending is a behavior issue, but it wouldn’t be an issue, if it weren’t that my family had expectations for me to provide.

My anger is a behavior issue, but it wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for the people around me.

My drinking is a behavior issue, but it wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the needs of my boss, or my responsibility to my wife, or my children

You see it’s in the context of relationships that our hurts, habits, and hangups become problems.

That’s what makes today’s choice so powerful. So much so that it is grounded in two Beatitudes

Matthew 5:7&9 NIV
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. … 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

These two are the foundation of this 6th choice… The relationship choice.

The Relationship Choice: I evaluate all my relationships, offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me, and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.

We all want to be forgiven when we do wrong, but it’s hard to extend that same forgiveness to those who have done us wrong – it’s difficult and it doesn’t feel fair. In fact, as a general rule, that’s part of how we understand mercy and justice. We want justice when it comes to our enemies, but when it comes to us we want mercy don’t we?

There’s a story in the Bible which reveals our natural tendency toward forgiveness and justice and it comes about when one of Jesus’ disciples – Peter – asks Jesus how many times we must forgive someone who sins against us. Isn’t this a great question?! Have you ever had this question in your life?

Maybe for you it was a coworker who never got their work done on time and it negatively impacted you.

Or perhaps it was an employee of yours who is consistently late and always has an excuse.

Or maybe it’s a family member who is always letting you down and you’ve had enough. How do you handle that?

As a follower of Jesus how do we handle people who continuously let us down or disrespect us? We know Jesus was all about forgiveness, but how many times do we forgive before we are allowed to write them off? Have you ever asked that question?

Jesus answers Peter’s question in Mathew 18:21-35.

Matthew 18:21–35 NLT
21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”

22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!

23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.

26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.

28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.

29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.

31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.

35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”

I think the message of this story is fairly clear, but in case it’s not, let me make some parallels.

The king in the story represents God.

The man who is forgiven a fortune represents us.

The man that was choked and imprisoned by the unforgiving man represents those who have hurt us.

So here’s what Jesus wants us to see, and if we want to find complete healing in life from our hurts, this is what we have to understand – there is no room for unforgiveness in the life of a follower of Christ. Let me say that again, there is no room for unforgiveness in the life of a disciple of Jesus. I know as a blanket statement this might be a difficult teaching to swallow, so let’s consider why this is.

Psalm 103:8–12 NIV
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

The picture of a perfect father’s love…

I love the story of the prodigal son….Who realizes he is lost and returns to his father’s farm only to be greeted while he is still far away.

As soon as we turn back, God is right there. I can be running as far from God as I want, but the moment i stop running and turn back to God, he’s right there.

Forgiveness is an inner attitude. It’s deciding that I’m no longer going to hold them as guilty. I’m setting them free today. At that moment, He is right there.

I could have been hurt by someone for years. Carried a grudge against them for what they did. but the moment I forgive them… God is right there.

If I said it once I’ve said it a thousand times “I’ll never forgive them for what they did”… then the moment I forgive them, God is right there.

Because I have been forgiven, I FORGIVE OTHERS

This was the problem with the elder brother in the story of the prodigal, he wouldn’t accept his father’s mercy.

Ephesians 4:32 NIV
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

When we refuse to forgive because we want others to be held responsible it’s as though we are wanting to be God. So in our judging others… what happens is that we become judged.

Colossians 3:12–13 NLT
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, 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. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

It’s not that I CAN FORGIVE… I FORGIVE. It’s what I do because I walk with Jesus.

Take up your cross and follow me

Not OK, I died for you now get on back out there.

He saved us to give us life, a life that includes freedom from our past. That life is only found in living under submission to Jesus.

People say “I don’t need Jesus” what you need is forgiveness and he is the only way to get it.

Side bar: actually 2 sidebars….

Forgiveness isn’t forgetting

It’s choosing to no longer hold something against someone else.

You can’t decide what you forget. If you could you would never lose the remote to the TV, your keys, the dog’s leash, or your wallet.

There are things that you may never forget, but God can change the way you carry them through the power of forgiveness.

Forgiveness isn’t a feeling.

Many times we say we need to forgive ourselves… but forgiveness is a reality that can be given by the one wronged. When I offend you, you can forgive me. When I wrong God, God can forgive me. But forgiving myself is not a biblical idea. True I may need to understand, I may need to process it. But forgiveness isn’t a feeling, what I usually mean when I say I need to forgive myself is that I’m feeling guilty.

And guilt can be a good thing, if it’s for something I did. But feeling guilty for something that I’ve been forgiven for is more a matter of not grasping the forgiveness that God offers us. I need to spend time with Jesus…. I need to pray, I need to study the scriptures, I need to talk with my pastor, or a Christian counselor or a friend who is a mature Christian.

Forgiveness is a fact you know, not just a feeling you have.

The UNFORGIVING become the UNFORGIVEN

We pray it all the time, but how often do we think about it?

Matthew 6:12 NIV
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

We have all said it, “I’ll never forgive them.”

You don’t understand, what they did to me, my child, my spouse. I can’t. I don’t want to forgive.

Don’t you feel it when you say that…how hard your heart is. Our hearts get hard by refusing to forgive.

That’s what mercy is all about, forgiving people when they don’t deserve it.

Matthew 5:7 NIV
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

And if we choose not to forgive, just know there are consequences to that:

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.

The way to approach forgiveness, is just like Jesus…. GIVE IT TO EVERYONE.

Don’t let anything hold you back from living the full life.

Mark 11:25 NIV
25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

This leads us to the second part of this choice, to make amends for the wrongs we have committed.

… and make amends for the harms I’ve done to others …

This weeks small group work will spend some time on this part but I want to introduce it here especially for those who aren’t taking part in a group.

Not only have you been wronged, but you have wronged others; and they are struggling to forgive you. And that may be the thing that is keeping them from living in the freedom that Jesus wants for them.

Let that sink in for a minute. The wrong you committed… that they can’t forgive you for… may be the very thing that is keeping them from experiencing new life.

Later in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught:

Matthew 5:23–24 NIV
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Why is reconciliation or making amends such a big deal? Because forgiveness is a big deal; and often times grudges and conflict prevent us from forgiving… you know this.

Luke 6:37 NIV
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

I know this is true, I’ve lived with burdens and I want people who are carrying burdens to be set free…especially if the reason for their burden is something I’ve done.

Making amends you see is about restoration of relationships, often times it may just be as simple as saying “I’m sorry, I was wrong.” That may be all people need to hear, that you understand what you did was wrong and that enables them to forgive. That’s the point here…it’s not about getting forgiveness from others… it’s about helping people forgive… making it easy to forgive… so that they can be forgiven.

When i came to Christ, I was struck by the reality that my behavior could be preventing people from living free in Christ.

I don’t want to be the cause of someone else’s hard heart.

Making amends isn’t about me… it’s about them.

But we also don’t want to make matters worse. That’s why we say we make amends as long as it won’t cause more harm. What do I mean? If you are in recovery, don’t go back to people in active addictions. If you want to make amends with previous spouse, is there a new spouse? You need to be careful there. What about children who are now grown? Again, don’t make things worse.
Pray and ask God to lead you… because it’s not about you now, you have been forgiven, what you are seeking now is for them to find peace.

Forgiveness is for my health.

“As long as we are unable to forgive we keep ourselves chained to the unforgiven. We give them rent-free space in our mind, emotional shackles in our heart, and the right to torment us in the small hours of the night.”

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” C.S. Lewis

How: Nail it to the cross

When: Start today

 

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