Today’s Scripture:

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Romans 12:19

Introduction:

I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s message.   This is the second message in a three message series on the Fascinating Love of God.  As I said yesterday, I don’t think that we can over state the importance of truly knowing more about the love of God.  The number one area that nearly all Christians struggle with is their own personal walk with God, and the number one reason for that struggle is that they just don’t really know or believe that God really does love them just as they are.  The number one reason that they don’t know God loves them is because they’re not taught that God truly loves them, and the number two reason is instead of being taught about the love of God…they’re made to be continually conscious of their sin.  Sin that Jesus became, and defeated so that you and I could not only have right standing with God…but have a personal relationship with Him where He can reveal His love for us.

The Bible says that while we were yet sinners, God proved His love for us by sending Jesus to die in our place so that we could be justified by faith in Christ Jesus.  We’re loved with a love that’s unlike any love we have ever or will ever experience apart from God’s.

Today’s message is subtitled:  “When God’s Wrath Is Your Comfort”.  I hope that it turns out to be a really good message, and I pray that God would teach us all that He wants us to know through this message today…and that He would use me to speak all that He wants through that supernatural anointing of the Holy Ghost.  Let’s get into the message.

Today’s Message:

All of you have been wronged at one time or another. Most of you, probably, have been wronged seriously by someone who has never apologized or done anything sufficient to make it right.

Many of us probably need both hands or more to count the number of times that we’ve been seriously wronged by someone who has never attempted to make what they did right with us.  I know that I’ve had many a person who wronged me in this way, and I know that they have never apologized nor do they intend to.  Sadly, some cannot apologize because they are no longer here, and how many of you know it’s a lot easier to forgive them…because they’re not here anymore.  However, it’s a lot harder to forgive, and easier to hold on to grudges over people who are still living, and have wronged you in such a way.  But should we hang on to those hurts?  I bet if we continue to read on…we’ll discover that those hurts will hinder us from being able to receive all that God has for us, and that those hurts are some of the things that we need to turn over to Him.  So…let’s read on.

And one of the deep hindrances to your letting that hurt and bitterness go is the conviction, the justified conviction, that justice should be done, that the fabric of the universe will unravel if people can just get away with horrible wrongs and deceive everyone.

Many of us who have experienced the kind of wrong-doing and hurt that I’m talking about here are really hindered because of the fact that in all reality…we are justified to be offended.  After all, we were seriously wronged, and the wrong is not a perceived offense…but very real, very hurtful…and very much deserving of vengeance.  Therefore, we believe we’re in the right to hold on to offense, but as we’re about to find out…we don’t actually have that right at all.

That is one of the hindrances to forgiveness and letting grudges go. It’s not the only one. We have our own sin to deal with. But it is a real one.

We feel that just to let it go would be to admit that justice simply won’t be done. And we can’t do it.

There lies the reason why we hang on to the hurt and offense…we believe that by doing so we’re serving up our own brand of justice.  However, as really as this reason is, and as right as we are to be offended by the wrongs that were done…it’s still a hindrance to our relationship with God…and furthermore it’s really not achieving anything other than having us hold on to a grudge or offense.

So we hold on to anger, and play the story over and over again with the feelings: It shouldn’t have happened; it shouldn’t have happened; it was wrong; it was wrong. How can he be so happy now when I am so miserable? It is so wrong. It is so wrong!

Let’s be real for a moment.  Many of us (and I was guilty of this for a long time) held on to offense which turned into resentment, and later became such a root of bitterness that we were basically held captive to this grudge that we held.  Again, we hang on to it because we feel like hanging on to the bitterness is our right, and we’re entitled to be angry because this person really hurt us.  The trouble is most of us internalize this offense and bitterness, and the person who caused the hurt goes on with their lives without knowing or caring that we’re holding on to this resentment.

So…then not only do we get a resentment and bitter over the fact that these people wronged us, but we get a resentment and even more bitter because they’ve gone about their lives seemingly like they don’t care at all that they’ve wronged us, and completely unaware that we’re holding such bitterness towards them.  We are the ones who lose sleep, we are the ones who are so angry that all we can think about is what they did to us, and we are so bogged down in bitterness because we deserve it.

But do we really deserve to hang on to it?  Let’s find out.

This word in Romans 12:19 is given to you by God to lift that burden from you.

“Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God.” What does this mean for you?

What does this mean for us?  Why shouldn’t we avenge ourselves?  Why leave that to God?  How has this become a burden?  Let’s read on to find out.

Laying down the burden of anger, laying down the practice of nursing your hurt with feelings of being wronged, laying that down, does not mean there was no great wrong against you.

See, this is why we hang on to the burden of this offense.  We feel like if we don’t hang on to it then it’ll be like us saying that the people who wronged us so seriously never wronged us, but that’s not the case friends.  Refusing to lay down our burdens, and cast them upon the One who cares for us is just needlessly wasted energy.  Hanging on to anger, hurt, offense, and bitterness not only doesn’t do us any earthly good…it also doesn’t do us any Heavenly good.

Can I tell you that when I was stuck holding on to such bitterness there was absolutely NO way that God could get through to me at all.  I couldn’t feel or sense His love, I couldn’t feel or sense His presence, and I couldn’t hear His voice.  God’s not going to shout over what you’re holding on to in order to be heard…He’s going to simply wait for us to give Him what we’re holding on to because He’s a gentleman…and He’s not going to force us to turn anything over to Him…He wants us to lay it down willingly…because holding on to offense not only doesn’t do us any good, but we cannot be useful to His Kingdom if we hang on to this stuff.

It hinders our ability to receive from God, and it completely severs God’s ability to do anything through us.  He cannot work through us if we hold bitterness in our heart.  Bitterness and love are direct opposites and cannot co-exist.  That is why we must not hold on to wrongs.  Remember what Paul writes about love in that “it bears no record of wrongs done unto it.”.

But, Pastor, you don’t know how devastated I was over what they did.  That’s true.  I don’t, but I know the One who does…and the One who does cannot heal that hurt until you let that offense go and give it to Him to take care of.

Listen, I used to think that I never carried offense in my heart until I came to really be serious with God.  When I seriously sat down, and God began to minister to me about what love really was…as I read through 1 Corinthians 13 upon many occasion…I began to understand that not only could I not truly love anyone with bitterness in my heart as a result of holding on to bitterness and offense…but God couldn’t love me either.  I couldn’t receive God’s love because I wasn’t willing to be loving to those who have wronged me.

Let’s face it, friends.  There’s no one who has been more wronged seriously than our God.  There’s no one who has been mocked, spit upon, and treated so disrespectfully…throughout history.  There are so many who mock God today just as they did in the days of Noah.  If anyone had a right to be angry and hold a grudge it’s God.  He gave His Son, and people still reject Him today.  Again, there’s no one in the world who has been wronged more than God…but He bears absolutely no record of those wrongs done against Him.

The Bible says that He’s not counting our sins or transgressions against us.  Can you imagine what kind of trouble we would be in if He did!?!  I don’t know about you, but if I knew that God’s wrath was upon me…I wouldn’t be so joyful about mocking Him the way many people are today.  In fact, knowing what I know about what’s coming for those who do…I’d be scared to death.

It does not mean there is no justice. It does not mean you will not be vindicated. It does not mean they just got away with it. No.

It means, when you lay down the burden of vengeance, God will pick it up.

Wait a minute.  If I lay down my offense, and give it to God…He will pick it up!?!  Yes!  That’s that whole point behind Romans 12:19.  Vengeance is God’s place to get…not ours.  However, we must not lay down our offenses for that reason…we need to lay them down because they’re hindering our relationship with God…our motivation for everything we lay down ought to be because it will bring us into a deeper relationship with God…because the truth is if we way it down for any other reason then that…our motives are wrong.  Don’t believe me?  Let’s read on.

This is not a subtle way of getting revenge. This is a way of giving vengeance to the one to whom it belongs.

God is the One who says “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.”  Therefore, when we as His children are wronged…He is offended.  Listen, Jesus told His disciples when He sent them out to evangelize the towns and villages that those who rejected them didn’t reject them, but the One who sent them.  In other words, Jesus was saying that when people thumb their noses and reject the disciples…they’re not rejecting the disciples…they were rejecting Jesus.  Jesus told them to “dust of your feet and go on to the next place”.

Listen…whenever someone wrongs us…they don’t wrong us…they wrong the One who sent us.  We are ambassador’s for Christ, we are the very children of God, and when someone wrongs us then they aren’t wronging us…they’re wronging God.  Jesus spoke again about someone hurting any of His little ones, and how it would be better for them to tie a milestone around themselves and cast themselves into the sea to drown…rather than face the wrath of God for wronging His children.

God loves us so much, and remember that picture we had yesterday about us being in the palm of His hand, and whenever we’re endanger that He just gently closes His fist around us.  Listen…our job is simple…it’s to remain in the palm of God’s hand…everything else is His job.

The Bible encourages us to cast ALL of our burdens upon Him because He cares for us.  That includes those who have wronged us, and the bitterness from those wrongs.  He’s the One who will get the vengeance, but it’s our job to keep our hearts pure…and by doing so we remain able to receive God’s love…and that’s what the Christian walk is all about…being able to truly know and receive God’s love for us.

It is taking a deep breath, perhaps for the first time in decades, and feeling like now at last you may be free to love.

Are you holding on to offense or bitterness?  Don’t you think it’s time to put it down?  I know when I began to let go of the bitterness I held in my heart it was one of those times where I could just feel so much weight being lifted off my shoulders.  Today, it’s easy for me to no longer bear record of wrongs done to me…because I know of the wrongs that I’ve done to God…and if He can love me as I am no matter what wrongs I’ve done…then I knew that I needed to learn to do the same with you.  I cannot love or minister to you…if I can’t let go of hurt from you.

It’s one of the strangest things that I used to love about the 12 Step Programs, but it really has a lot of wisdom to it.  Some times I had to use it on a daily basis until I could actually do it, and some times I still have to remember it…but I find that life really is the best and most joyful when I simply remember that everything that’s too heavy and burdensome for me to carry that I have to remember to just simply:

Let go and Let God.

Conclusion:

Well…are you holding on to offense?  As I said in the message…isn’t it time you gave that to God?  I mean has holding on to it done you any good?  Have you gotten the desired results from hanging on to that bitterness or have you noticed your relationship with God has suffered because of the bitterness in your heart?

Bitterness is a poison. When we allow it to take root in our lives, it is a destructive force that rips and tears at the very foundation of our soul. If we find bitterness developing in those around us, the Bible tells us that we are to lovingly encourage them and draw them back into the fullness of God’s grace.

Is bitterness threatening you? Have you allowed bitterness to take root in your life and grow into a destructive force? Prayer can help you to overcome the devastating effects of bitterness in your life, your heart, your soul.

Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,
You know our hearts. You know all things. Please remove bitterness that has taken root in my life and has begun to destroy me. Father, You know the actions and attitudes in my heart that have caused this. Change me, Father. Restore me unto You, and create in me a clean heart (Psalm 51:10).
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Your grace. Help me to receive it. Help me to turn away from the tendency to dwell on negative thoughts. May I find Your goodness, grace and love in serving others.
We thank You and praise You for Your many blessings. We commit today to changing our way of thinking, Father. We commit to dwelling on all things true, right, lovely, pure, admirable, and heavenly (Romans 8:5, Philippians 4:8, Colossians 3:2) in order to be pleasing to Your Holy Spirit.
We ask that You help us, Father. We thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit as a comforter to help us in our time of need. Forgive us for our many failures.
We ask all these things in Your precious, holy name.
AMEN.