7/12 What’s Your Story series: Where does God’s Forgiveness fit into Your Story?
Genesis 33: 1-20
Do Over! How many times have we said or thought that? I want a do over. In other words, I’m really not satisfied with the outcome here, I want to do it over. How about those situations where it was you that was hurt by words or actions from another where you feel the pain, emotionally hurting, wanting for what once was between you and them. It’s like the example Pastor George used with our young people, we want that white board, to use the eraser and wipe it away. A do over in a sense so as not to hurt or be hurt in our relationship with another.
What about your story… where does God’s forgiveness fit into it? How is God’s forgiveness a part of it? We know that we are to ask for forgiveness, to confess our wrong and God will forgive us, it’s no more, he wipes it away. Well that seems pretty easy to do, all I need to do is confess it to God and I know he will forgive me. God’s forgiveness given to me is easy. But take a moment and give some thought to just how easy it actually was for God, Christ crucified, the pain and suffering he endured so our sins are forgiven. We can’t imagine that kind of pain. And then how easy it should be for us to show that same kind of forgiveness between us and another that we have wronged or who has wronged us, but it really isn’t. The pain of forgiveness. It really isn’t that easy. What would your story tell?
This week we are looking at forgiveness. The scripture in Genesis 33:1-20 is an account of Jacob wanting to reconcile the relationship with his brother Esau. To seek forgiveness, to find favor with his brother. When Jacob saw his brother running towards him his first reaction was trouble ahead. Instead he experienced forgiveness before he could even ask his brother Esau to forgive him. Verse 4 reads “But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.” Esau wept because of the love for his brother, Jacob wept too because of the love for his brother, but also, he is relieved because he deserved judgement in steeling the birthright so many years ago. Verse 10 reads “Jacob said, ‘No, please, if I have found favor in your sight (experiencing Esau’s forgiveness), then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me.” As Pastor George said, when we receive forgiveness, it’s something beautiful! When you experience forgiveness, you see God’s face. Imagine what the interaction in heaven will be like between us and God from receiving his forgiveness.
This week we dug deeper into what true forgiveness means. Looking at The Power of Forgiveness by Joni Ortlund she listed some essential elements. 1. Go to Christ. Take your pain, your suffering to him. Because he suffered, our suffering is important to him. Jesus still bears the marks of his suffering.
2. Go to The Word. God’s word says in Romans 12:19 “Never avenge yourself but leave room for God. It is mine to avenge, I will repay says the Lord.” My response is to forgive and give it to Jesus – don’t be the judge. Every time a person forgives the gospel spreads a little further, says Joni. She shares that being defensive we go on the offense of protecting “me”. We are to remember that God’s love for us continually covers our own sins. We experience His Grace and Forgiveness every day.
Chuck Swindoll in his illustration on Forgiveness & Bitterness said that these two cannot co-exist. Without the first you’ll live through life in the second. Bitterness is a dangerous germ in our memory bank. Bitterness is anger turned inward. Like we heard Sunday, anger, frustration, and resentment will build up like lava. Sooner or later that volcano of emotions at some point is going to erupt.
Chuck Swindoll referenced the parable in Matthew 18. A man had a debt. The Master forgave the man of his debt. It continues on to read how a servant owed this man money. The man demanded payment, but the servant could not pay, so the man had him put in prison until his debt was paid to him. When the Master heard what this man had done, continuing in verse 34 it reads “… in anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he should pay back all he owed.” This is how it is explained. The man was forgiven by the Master, his debt was paid, but the man shows no mercy to the servant who owed him money. The Master then had the man put into a prison so to speak. In un-forgiveness we are held hostage. As long as we chose not to forgive, we are held in prison, held hostage. Our freedom is in Christ. It’s doing as Christ has done for us that we find freedom. In love, we forgive from the heart. Instead, in our unwillingness to forgive someone from our heart, we are continually held hostage, in a sense tortured for our stubbornness to not forgive.
Fred Zaspel presented Forgiving as Forgiven at a conference that we viewed in RNM this week too. He also used the passage in Matthew 18 from which he offered 3 points. #1 Goal of Forgiveness – Reconciliation. In Christ, God has reconciled us to himself. Making peace with God, with friends. In reconciling fellowship, you gained your brother. We are to do as Christ does for us, …iniquities I will remember no more. #2 Cost of Forgiveness – forgiveness demands substitutional payment of the debt. Each of us stands before God with an unpayable debt. God and Grace pays the debit. To forgive we have to absorb the loss and pay the debt ourselves, forgiveness from the heart. #3 The Demand of Forgiveness – forgiveness demands yet more forgiveness. There is to be no limit on forgiveness to our brother. Where would we be if God limits on forgiveness? Fred went on to say, compared to the immeasurable debt we have been forgiven, how small are our brothers’ sins against us? Our Lord is not asking us to renounce a right, the Kingdom is about mercy, this is the demand!
Fred used a mind picture of a wooden bridge over the great chasm that divides us from God. And that bridge being Christ who laid down his life so that we can live and know God. Pastor George referenced Romans 5:1 …declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God. One great incentive to continued fellowship with one another is that in Ephesians 4:32 which Pastor George also referenced Sunday says …forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. This says that sin cannot enter God’s realm. He will not have unforgiving servants in his kingdom. Each time we chose not to forgive, it’s like removing a wooden plank in the bridge that we must cross. Fred Zaspel said, don’t ruin the bridge over which you must pass. Forgiveness, we must deal with it in our hearts. So Where does God’s Forgiveness fit into your story? Have you experienced the face of God through forgiveness?
Larry and Darlene