Message Scripture: Genesis 33:4-11, KJV
4 And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.
5 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant.
6 Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves.
7 And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves.
8 And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met? And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord.
9 And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.
10 And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.
11 Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it.
Greetings to you, and thank you for joining me for our second message in our series on “Forgiveness”. I hope everyone has had an opportunity to read the first message, and to get caught up on many of the messages I’ve already written.
As always, my hope and prayer is that the Holy Ghost will prepare the soils of your hearts, and give you ears to hear what the Lord is about to speak to us through this message.
I’m not going to spend much time on the introduction…let’s just get right into the message.
Today’s Message: How Forgiveness Frees Us
I thought maybe I’d include a song for y’all to listen to while you read this message. As I was thinking about posting this I felt like the Lord was leading me to include this song that I know many of us have heard on Christian radio…but it applies to what we’re talking about. So, here’s the song:
How many of you know that forgiveness isn’t just about the freeing the other person, but about making sure our hearts stay free of bitterness, resentment, and right towards people. Forgiveness is an essential part of keeping our hearts pure and right towards one another…and so that’s what we’re going to be talking about today.
The last time they had seen each other, Esau was plotting to murder his brother, Jacob (see Genesis 27:41–45). As the years passed, Esau learned to embrace forgiveness. And once he had forgiven his brother, he no longer demanded repayment or restitution. Esau had made the choice to set Jacob free from any remaining debt.
How many people are you holding captive (including yourself) by holding on to offense and demanding repayment or restitution for something that someone has done to wrong you? How many people are you harboring bitterness and resentment in your heart towards as you go to the altar praising and worshiping God with that bitterness in your heart?
I know by the Spirit of God that I’m hitting home with this message already. If you have unforgiveness in your heart towards anyone they aren’t the one keeping you from being all that God wants you to be…you are. I know that you’d like to think that you’re doing something by holding on to all that bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness…but the only thing you are doing is holding yourself hostage to those things. I can assure you that whomever you are holding the bitterness against isn’t losing one wink of sleep…but I bet that you are.
Listen, I understand that there are probably some of you with some pretty heavy things from your past. I know what it’s like. I may not have had to endure the same things you did, but I’m also sure that you haven’t had to endure some of the things I did. The point is whether the abuse was physical, sexual, verbal, or whatever…the only person you’re continuing to hinder and harm isn’t the person who did those things to you…you’re again holding yourself hostage…and the Lord is wanting to set you free…but until you let Him help you to move past the past…you’re going to continue to be held hostage and you’re going to continue to be held back from where God wants to take you and your relationship with Him. It’s not the person or people who have hurt you that are keeping you from your God designed destiny…it’s you. I know that sound harsh, but it’s the truth.
Listen…no one is saying that you don’t have a right to be angry over what happened, and no one is saying that you have to forget about it. Lord knows there are a lot of us that have been through some pretty brutal things, but once again what is being said is that us holding on to unforgiveness doesn’t shackle them…it shackles us…and God wants to remove those shackles…but He can’t until you are willing to ask Him for help.
The only way to complete freedom is to forgive them…completely forgive them and the only way to do that is to ask God to help you…and to heal the hurt. I know that’s possible because it happened for me…and I’ve learned that no matter what happens to me part of truly loving people is to take no offense. (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NLT)
Nothing promotes reconciliation more than forgiveness. To forgive someone means to let him or her off the hook or to cancel a debt owed. When we refuse to forgive someone, we still want something from that person, and even if it is revenge that we want, it keeps us tied to the person forever.
I like the definition of what it means to forgive here because it also provides us with a glimpse of what the goal of the Cross was. Every single one of us that are whosoever’s that have called upon the name of the Lord to be saved has had our entire sin debt from birth until death cancelled. God let each and every one of us off the hook, and cancelled our debt…and just so you know the only acceptable payment for the wrongs we had or would do to God was death.
We all deserve to die. If God refused to forgive us like we refuse to forgive those around us we would all be in some serious trouble, friends.
Think about that for a moment. What if God really did forgive us the way we forgive? What if Jesus’ death wasn’t enough, and God demanded even more payment for our sins? What if God wanted revenge for every time we crossed or betrayed Him? I’ll tell you what if…if God forgave us the way we forgive one another…none of us would have any hope of being with Him in glory.
Come on, friends. Are you trying to tell me that what so and so did to you is worse than the sin of the entire world? Even if it was are you trying to tell me that what that person did to you is worse than what was nailed to the Cross with Jesus? What right do we have to hold anything against anyone when God has every right to hold our sin against us? But…just as He told the adulterous woman who He didn’t condemn her…He doesn’t condemn or hold any ill feelings towards any of us at all…and He very well could and should.
I don’t want anyone to be tied to me forever. I have reached a place in my life where no matter who says or does what to me I’ve already forgiven what it was they did before they even say they’re sorry. I refuse to hold on to offense, and much of that is because I understand that God will forgive me the way I forgive others…and so if I want Him to forgive me completely…then I need to forgive those who wrong me…all of us need to learn to let things go like water off a ducks back.
Unforgiveness doesn’t harm the person we’re holding unforgiveness against at all…it harms us and hinders us from being all that God desires us to be. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have enough hindering me from being all God wants me to be. I don’t want unforgiveness of someone to add to it…Amen!?!
Refusing to forgive a family member is one of the main reasons people are stuck for years, unable to separate from their dysfunctional families. They still want something from their family. It is much better to receive grace from God, who has something to give, and to forgive those who have nothing with which to repay their debt. This ends the suffering because it ends the wish for repayment that is never forthcoming, and which makes the heart-sick because the hope is deferred (see Proverbs 13:12).
Friends, I’m not going to go into the full story, but I didn’t have the greatest childhood either. I was physically, verbally, and emotionally abused through much of my childhood. There were many people who hurt me, and lots of fingers to point…but the point of telling you this is for the longest time I held that against the people in my past…and do you know who wound up paying the most for that?
I paid for it in the form of becoming an alcoholic, and learning to lie, cheat and steal from people. I paid for it by getting myself booted out of the Marine Corps, and you’d think I’d have learned my lesson from that…but more things happened that caused me to have more bitterness and unforgiveness…not only towards other people…but myself as well. So, not only was I angry, resentful, and unforgiving towards others I was towards myself…AND I was also angry with God too. So…along with all of that I paid for it by holding on to all that bitterness and resentment, and I took it out on people…and I also took it out on myself by engaging in self-destructive behaviors. I am still paying for some of what I did because I have felony convictions on my criminal background so it keeps me from being able to own or shoot a fire arm, it keeps me from getting decent jobs, and it was the reason I was in and out of jail until I realized that the people I had held all that against were going on about their lives while I was stuck in a terrible cycle of abusing myself.
The last time I spent extensive time in jail was when God finally got through to me that in order for me to stop getting into trouble I was going to have to let go of all the garbage I was hanging on to. I was going to have to let the people I was holding the unforgiveness in my heart against off the hook, and He went on to explain to me that everything that I was going through was a result of hanging on to bitterness, anger, resentment and unforgiveness…and until I let that stuff go I was going to continue the path I was on.
To make a long story short reconciliation has taken place in my family because I chose to let go, and completely forgive everyone for everything that had been done to me. I have a relationship with my parents today that wouldn’t be possible if I hadn’t learned to completely let them off the hook, and cancel whatever debt I thought they owed me.
One of the greatest freedoms I have ever experienced in my life was taking all that hurt, all that pain, all of that I’d been through, and laying it down at the foot of the Cross. By putting it all at the feet of Jesus I exchanged all of that for the peace and rest of Jesus. I’ve learned…as I said before to let go of offense because holding on to it doesn’t do me any good, and the person that caused the offense is free to go on with their lives while I’m left wondering how they can live with themselves after they did what they did.
Forgiveness really isn’t about setting the other person free it’s about setting ourselves free of the bondage of bitterness. Bitterness is a bondage that allows the devil full and free access into our hearts and lives so that he can wreak havoc on and in them. The devil would love nothing more than for our hearts to be full of bitterness and resentment. (See Ephesians 4:26-32, NLT)
And so we come to the last point of this message…
If we do not forgive, we are demanding something our offender does not choose to give, even if it is only confession. This “ties” the person to us. If we come from a toxic family situation and have been waiting for something before we can forgive, we need to let go. If we cut loose the ties, we will be free. We will be free in forgiveness.
We have to choose to cut loose from the ties of unforgiveness in order for us to be free. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have enough that I have myself tied to that I need to be set free from. So, hanging on to unforgiveness is not something I care to hang on to because it really does allow the enemy the opportunity to wreak havoc in our lives…and as I have already said in this message…I am still working to recover from the havoc I allowed the enemy to do in my life because I held on to so much bitterness and unforgiveness.
We need to be the one to let go, friends. The good thing is we have an Advocate that will help us to let go, and He’s the same One that will heal the hurt as we do. I believe I will give Jesus the last words to this message by allowing Him to remind us that:
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36, ESV)
We pray for forgiveness and that You would give us the strength to forgive others…especially family members who may have caused us the greatest hurt and pain in our lives. Lord God, we pray also that You forgive them for whatever it is that they did unto us. In Jesus name we pray. Amen & Amen
I know there may be many of you that have had some seriously tragic things happen in life that have left wounds not just in your hearts…but deep down in your souls. I also know that there may be many of you who have had horrible things happen to them in childhood, and other areas of life by people who betrayed you in the worst ways possible.
There are many people who I’ve forgiven that I no longer associate with, and in all honesty the greatest thing I was able to do was let go of the unforgiveness that was tying me to those people. Forgiveness frees us just as much as it lets those who have hurt us off the hook, and it makes us the better people.
Remember this. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting or even that you have to re-enter a relationship with that person. I understand that many things that have been done might make reconciliation possible…or maybe the person is no longer alive…but forgiveness surrenders the resentment and bitterness to Christ…and making sure that neither the offense or the person that caused the hurt has anymore power over you…and of course allowing God to heal the wounds and scars and broken parts of us.
Thank you for joining me in this series. We’re only two messages in, but I feel like we’re in the right series. I have come to think that maybe if we do one message a week in this series that we’ll finish it just in time for a Thanksgiving message, and a Christmas countdown series also.
Have a blessed day everyone!
Blessings & Grace;
Bryan Kizer – Pastor
Christlike Ministries NWA