Tearing Down the Walls #3:
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” (Hebrews 12:14-15).
There are many things in our lives that can hinder us from getting connected with one another in deep and meaningful relationships, including past hurts or broken trust, low self-esteem, distractions or busyness, or negative actions/sins. Today, I want to consider perhaps the biggest stumbling block to having a good healthy relationship with other people—unforgiveness. Not only does this hinder us from being able to connect with other people, but it can also affect us negatively in our relationship with God as well. This is why today’s Scripture commands us to follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which we will never be able to see the Lord. When we refuse to forgive someone, a root of bitterness can grow in our hearts that will trouble us, and can hurt many other people as well.
OFFENSES ARE GOING TO COME:
Jesus said, “Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes.” (Matthew 18:7). In this world, there are going to be people who are going to do mean and hurtful things that are going to offend us. We can’t do anything about that. However, the Bible gives a strong warning to those who would offend or hurt other people. Jesus said, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6). So, what do we do when offenses come and someone does something to hurt us?
WE MUST CHOOSE TO FORGIVE:
“Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22). Forgiveness is not an option. We are commanded to forgive those who hurt and offend us, to turn the other cheek, and love our enemies. This is not an easy thing to do—but it’s the right thing to do. In a story that Jesus told about a servant who was forgiven a huge debt by the king, that same servant refused to forgive a fellow servant a smaller sum of money. When the king heard about it, he said, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” (Matt. 18:32-33). Our motive for forgiving should be the fact that God has graciously forgiven us of our many sins against Him.
IF WE DON’T FORGIVE OTHERS, GOD WON’T FORGIVE US:
“But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:15). As Christians, we should be willing to walk in forgiveness simply because God commands us to forgive. But for those of you who want a further reason to forgive, we find it in this Scripture. If we don’t forgive others, then God won’t forgive us!
DEALING WITH OFFENSES:
So what do we do when someone offends us? How do we forgive them? Forgiveness is not a feeling—it is a choice. You may not have warm fuzzy feelings towards the person who hurt you, but you must still choose to release them from that offense. Don’t gossip about them to other people, but go to them about it. Jesus said, “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the fault. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.” (Matt. 18:15). And go to God in prayer about it. Ask the Lord to soften your heart towards that person, and to change that person’s heart as well. Let’s tear down the walls of unforgiveness in our lives and get connected with one another in God’s love.
Pastor Chris Jordan