Apr 18

Why should we forgive?

What is the most important virtue in any relationship, the most important ingredient in holding a marriage together or keeping a family united, it is something that is absolutely crucial to the success of a marriage and a family, without it there is no happiness.

What is it that causes relationships to be sustained over the long haul? In a word, it is forgiveness.

Why do I say that? Well first of all, no matter who you're married to, they're going to fail you, they're going to offend you, they're going to misunderstand you, they're going to misinterpret what you mean by what you do. You are going to offend them, you are going to sin against them, and you are going to disappoint them. This is true in any kind of relationship because we are sinful.

Proverbs 19:11 says, “It is a man's glory to overlook a transgression”. Never is a man more lofty or more humble than when he forgives. And, frankly, we live in a society that would not accept this, would not acknowledge it. And consequently relationships are flying apart all over the place and one of the main contributors of that self-destruction is a disdain for forgiveness.

People are filled with bitterness, filled with anger, filled with hate, filled with vengeance toward others. They believe that retaliation somehow is a virtue, that getting back is somehow right and healthy.

People make heroes out of the vindictive. They make heroes out of the vengeful, the Dirty Harrys, the Rambo’s, the Terminators, or whatever else you want to call them, those types who find joy in killing for the sake of vengeance.

There are over 300 thousand lawsuits a year in America. People are seeking vengeance everywhere. We have 70 percent of the world's lawyers just to keep up with the number of lawsuits.

In her popular book called Toxic Parents, Susan Foreward presents what is really the prevailing attitude toward forgiveness in our culture. She has a chapter in the book entitled, "You don't have to forgive."

She says we should place the blame for our present problems on our parents because that's where it belongs. They poisoned us. We all had toxic parents. And the new cry is, "I am a victim, it's not my fault and I'm not responsible."

Guilt for anything and everything is pushed off on others and left there until vengeance exhausts itself.But the price of vengeance is extremely high.

The price of un-forgiveness is really severe. Let me tell you some of the things that un-forgiveness does.
• Un-forgiveness imprisons people in the past.
You say, "What do you mean by that? Well as long as you are unwilling to forgive offenders and their offenses, you are shackled to them both. As long as you are unwilling to forgive the offender and the offense, you keep it alive...the pain is there, you're picking at an open sore, keeping it from healing. When you won't forgive you are sentencing yourself to go through life feeling as bad now as you did in the past when the offense was committed with no end in sight. You choose to love hate and cultivate it through your life.

• Secondly, un-forgiveness inevitably produces deep bitterness.
Hebrews 12:15 calls it a root of bitterness, a bitterness deep down, an infectious cancer in the heart. Such bitterness is malignant, it is devastating. It brings those malignant thoughts, those harassing memories that distort how you see life, anger rages out of control, emotions become unbridled and unchecked and you entertain desperate ideas for revenge. Every conversation becomes a forum for slandering the person you hate or defamation and even for lies.
It will shackle you to the pain of your past and it will provide for you a deep bitterness.

On the other hand, forgiveness brings complete freedom from the past and from bitterness in the present.

When you study the Bible there is a lot in it about forgiveness. In fact, there are 75 word pictures for "forgiveness" in the Bible. Let me give you just a few of them.

• To forgive is to turn the key, open the cell door and let the prisoner walk free.
• To forgive is to write in large letters across a debt, "NOTHING OWED."
• The Bible says that to forgive is to pound the gavel in a courtroom and declare, "Not Guilty!"
• To forgive is to shoot an arrow so high and so far it can never be found again.
• To forgive is to take out the garbage and dispose of it once and for all, leaving the house fresh and clean.
• To forgive is to loose the anchor and set the ship free to sail.
• To forgive is to grant a full pardon to a condemned and sentenced criminal.
• To forgive is to loosen a strangle hold on a wrestling opponent.
• To forgive is to sandblast a wall of graffiti, leaving it looking brand new.
• To forgive is to smash a clay pot into a thousand pieces so it could never be put back together again.

Those are just some of the word pictures in the Bible about forgiveness. Forgiveness is a marvelous, virtuous, liberating, loving attitude and act. It makes sense to forgive. It is healthy. It is wholesome. It is liberating. It is sensible. It relieves tension. It brings peace. It solicits love. And again I say, it is man at his best. It is his glory to overlook a transgression.

And I'll tell you something. No relationship can survive the absence of forgiveness. If you don't forgive continually, you will accumulate bitterness that will destroy that will destroy any and every relationship.

Remember there are no enduring relationships without forgiveness.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Rick

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