Building Your Life On Values That Last | Value #6: Forgiveness

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It’s a fact of life that you’re going to get hurt. Many times intentionally by things people say about you or do to you. When we talk about forgiveness some of you instantly call to mind past hurts and heartaches that are still fresh because you have been hurt very deeply. You still wince at those memories.


Why You Should Forgive

In Matthew 18, Jesus told a story called the parable of the unforgiving servant. In that story, Jesus gives three illustrations, three reasons why we ought to forgive.

He says you need to learn to forgive other people when they hurt you:

1. BECAUSE GOD HAS FORGIVEN YOU

I have been forgiven so I need to learn how to forgive others.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

When you remember how much God has forgiven you, it causes you to want to be more forgiving to other people. On the other hand, if you don’t feel forgiven, you’re going to have a tough time forgiving others.

If you don’t feel forgiven, you don’t want others to feel forgiven. If you don’t feel grace, you’re not going to be very gracious to others. If you don’t feel set free from the things you’ve done wrong, you don’t want others feeling good about the wrongs they have done to you.

Have you ever asked God to forgive you of your sins? Have you ever received Christ’s forgiveness? If you have a hard time forgiving others, maybe it’s because you have never received Christ’s forgiveness. Maybe you need to do that today, right now.

If you receive Christ’s forgiveness and every moment of you’re day you’re living in God’s love and grace and remember your slate is wiped clean because of Jesus Christ, you will be more forgiving.

You will never have to forgive anybody else more than God has already forgiven you. He will always forgive you more than you forgive anybody else.

2. BECAUSE RESENTMENT DOESN’T WORK

Resentment is self-destructive and counterproductive. It always hurts you more than anybody else.

If anybody had the right to be resentful, it was a guy in the Bible named Job.  Job was a famous, wealthy, godly man who had everything he ever wanted. But one day he lost it all. Enemy nations came in and killed all his livestock. All of his children were killed. He lost everything he had. He got a terrible disease. He was living in poverty with incurable pain.

Things had gotten so bad that Job’s wife told him he should just “Curse God and die.”
Then Job’s friends came along and said, “Job, it’s your fault.”

If anybody had the right to be resentful it was Job. But three times in the book of Job we’re told that resentment doesn’t work.

To worry yourself to death with resentment would be a foolish, senseless thing to do. Job 5:2

Would you agree that sometimes hate or resentment or bitterness make us do really foolish things ? We do dumb things to try to get even with people. We do stuff that makes us look stupid.

It’s foolish to hold a grudge. Ecclesiastes 7:9

It’s not only unreasonable, but you are only hurting yourself with your anger! Resentment always hurts you more than it hurts the other person. Resentment makes you miserable. No matter how resentful you are, no matter how bitter you are toward that person who hurt you, all the resentment in the world is not going to change the past.

Resentment doesn’t change anything. It’s just stewing without doing. All the resentment in the world will never solve the problem. In fact, all the resentment in the world never hurts that person, it just hurts you.

Maybe they hurt you years ago and now every time you think about it, it still causes pain in your life. They’ve forgotten the issue, but your resentment keeps the hurt alive in you.

When you hold onto a hurt it’s like holding fire in your chest. It’s like swallowing a self-inflicting poison. It’s like having a cancer that eats you alive. Resentment does not hurt the other person. It hurts you.

3. BECAUSE I WILL NEED FORGIVENESS IN THE FUTURE.

Forgiveness is a two way street. You can’t expect everybody to forgive you if you are unwilling to forgive other people.

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14

We cannot receive what we’re unwilling to give. If you are forgiving you will be forgiven.
But if you are unforgiving, don’t expect forgiveness from anybody else. But God says for your own sake you need to let it go. You’re not helping the situation by holding on to the hurt. When you hold on to a hurt you’re allowing somebody in the past to continue to hurt you.

If you can’t forgive a certain person, perhaps you don’t understand what forgiveness is. If you understood it, you would be more able to do it.

What you think forgiveness is and what forgiveness really is may be two different things.
There are a lot of faulty concepts, myths, and misconceptions about forgiveness out there.

Forgiveness is not minimizing the seriousness of the offense. When you minimize a wrong, you cheapen forgiveness. Forgiveness is not saying, “It was no big deal,” because it was a big deal. There’s a difference between forgiveness and acceptance.

Forgiveness is not the instant restoration of trust. Forgiveness is instant, but trust must be rebuilt over time. Forgiveness means you’re going to let go of the hurt but the person who hurt you has some things to do in order to rebuild the trust.

You may have been hurt so bad by a loved one that the thought of forgiving that person is almost unthinkable. However, here are four things you do in order to experience the freedom of forgiveness.

How to Experience the Freedom of Forgiveness

1. RECOGNIZE EVERYONE IS IMPERFECT

When you get hurt by somebody, you tend to lose your perspective about that person and dehumanize and demonize the offender. You forget that he or she is a human being too.

The fact is that everyone is a sinner and capable of hurting others. Every one of us have intentionally wronged other people in our lives.

There is not a single person in all the earth who is always good and never sins. Ecclesiastes 7:20

2. RELINQUISH MY RIGHT TO GET EVEN

Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it. Romans 12:19

This is the heart of forgiveness, what forgiveness is all about. You know the offender deserves to be hurt back, retaliated against, and punished, but say you aren’t going to do it.

This might seem unfair, but who said life is fair? God never said life is fair. This is not heaven. This is not a place of perfection. This is a place where people make mistakes. Life is not fair.

There is not always justice in the world. In fact, there’s a lot of injustice. But, God says one day He’s going to settle the score. One day God is going to balance the books, call us to account, and make things right. Until then, the Bible says, don’t avenge yourself. Don’t try to get even. Leave it to God to repay those who deserve it.

One day God’s going to have the last word. In the meantime, you let go of your right to get the last word because it’s making you miserable. Your resentment doesn’t work. Your resentment keeps you from being forgiven. Your resentment keeps you unhealthy. It’s unreasonable. It’s unhelpful. Release your right to get even and ask God to give you His peace.

How often do you have to do that? As often as the hurt memory comes back. Every time you start to get resentful, you have to forgive again. You do it over and over. Forgiveness is not a one shot deal. It’s a repeated act of giving up your right to get even.

Jesus taught this. Peter asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” Peter thinks he’s being real generous here! “No,” Jesus replied, “seventy times seven!”

In other words, an infinite number. Don’t even try to count it. Every time you remember that hurt you must forgive them again and again until you know that you’ve released it.

3. RESPOND TO EVIL WITH GOOD

How do you know when you’ve fully released someone? When you can understand their hurt and when you can pray for them. In that process of yielding your right to get even
God changes your heart so you began to pray for good rather than evil.

Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for
those who mistreat you. Luke 6: 27-28

There is no way you can do that verse on your own power. Humanly speaking, you can’t do that 1000 times a day. You don’t have enough love, forgiveness, and joy in your life to continually forgive everyone who has hurt you.

It takes God’s power.

The only way you can do that is if you get Jesus Christ in your life and He fills you with His love and His peace and His forgiveness because human love runs out.

Love keeps no record of wrongs. When you’re filled with love you’re not keeping a record of wrongs. That means if you’re keeping a record of wrongs, you’re not filled with love at that moment. Instead, you’re filled with bitterness and resentment.

4. REFOCUS ON GOD’S PLAN FOR MY LIFE

Instead of focusing on the offense, the hurt, and the person who has offended you, refocus on God’s purpose for your life. God’s purpose is greater than any problem or any pain that you are experiencing.

Job had every reason to be offended and every reason to have resentment but he gives us the three steps for refocusing your life:

Put your heart right, reach out to God then face the world again, firm and courageous. Then all your troubles will fade from your memory, like floods that are past and remembered no more. Job 11: 13-16

Notice he says three things to do:

1. Put your heart right. Release and forgive the person who’s hurt you because you’re only making yourself miserable holding onto the hurt.

2. Reach out to God. Ask Christ into your life because you don’t have enough forgiveness on your own.

3. Face the world again. You don’t withdraw into a shell and build up walls. Instead  resume living know you are not a victim and with Jesus Christ’s power you are going to start living again.

When you do those three steps, notice what it says: “Then all your troubles will fade from your memory like floods that are past and remembered no more. The memory will fade.”

Wouldn’t you like that memory, that hurt, to stop hurting you? It will, if you do what God says.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week about respect. Do you remember the memory verse? 1 Peter 1:18-19 TLB Have you had any opportunities to apply respect by being tactful, understanding, not judging, sharing your faith or responding politely?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Hear the Word

No one gets through this life without being hurt—that’s a guarantee. We live in a broken world, and none of us is perfect. That’s why the value of forgiveness is so important to build our lives upon. Without forgiveness, we’ll have a difficult time with conflict and unsettled issues in our relationships. 

Jesus told a parable in Matthew 18 about a gracious king who forgave a servant’s debt only to see that servant go out and demand repayment by those who owed him a debt. Have someone in your group read Matthew 18:21-35 out loud.

Application

  1. God has forgiven you. If you’re a follower of Jesus, you have been forgiven. So, the first question this week is, have you accepted God’s forgiveness through Christ for your sins? If not, what’s holding you back? Do you still believe lies like, “I’m an exception to forgiveness because I’m too bad,” or “You don’t know what I’ve done,” or “I need to prove I’m worthy?” In what ways have you found yourself living as though you have to earn your way into God’s good graces?
  2. Job 18:4 says, “You are only hurting yourself with your anger.” What hurts or wrongs have you had a hard time letting go of? What effect has it had on your heart and mind?
  3. It’s important to know what forgiveness is and what it is not. Forgiveness is not minimizing the offense, instant restoration of trust or resuming the relationship without any changes. Your forgiveness is not based on that person’s response or even on acknowledgement of wrongdoing. When you think of what forgiveness requires, what first comes to mind?
  4. The four attitudes of forgiveness are: 1) Recognize we’re all imperfect. 2) Relinquish your right to get even. 3) Respond to evil with Good. 4) Refocus on God’s plan for your life. Which of the four attitudes of forgiveness seems easiest for you to do? Which one is the hardest? What thoughts or emotions come up in the process?

Tell Someone Else

Who do you need to forgive? This week, tell them you forgive them. In some situations, it may not always be advisable or even possible for you to go to people who have hurt you. They may have moved, passed away or a conversation with them would make matters worse. When you can’t forgive in person, consider the empty chair technique or writing a letter you never send. These techniques can make forgiveness feel more tangible. (See page 136 of the personal study guide for more details.)

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Week 4: How You See Your Job

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We love our community and want to show the love of Christ tangibly in our neighborhoods, workplaces and homes. This summer, through weekend sermons, small group curriculum and daily devotionals, we will discover how serving can make a difference in our community, makes an impact for God and grows our faith. Join us as we discover significance through serving.


Today’s post is all about how our work has a part in your serving mindset. The average person will spend around 100,000 hours of their life at work. Work defines, describes and dominates our lives. But surveys tell us that about two-thirds of people say they are not satisfied in their jobs. Some people think work is actually punishment from God, because the Bible says after sin entered the world, God cursed the ground, and said, “Now you’re going to have to work by the sweat of your brow.”

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”  Genesis 2:15

The result of sin is not work. The result of sin is harder work. You are going to work in heaven too. In heaven it will be good and fulfilling work. There will be no bad bosses, no gossip, no inner-office politics. Your work in heaven will be fulfilling and fun.

Work is not the enemy of your life. Work is an amazing opportunity of life.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Colossians 3:17

How do you see the “whatever you do”? How are you going to spend those 100,000 hours of your life? Most people see their job negatively. What if you could see your job as an opportunity to do something in the name of Jesus in freedom and thanksgiving to God, not as a prison?

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Is this your work story?

You graduate from high school or college and then comes the prison sentence, 40 years to life. It all starts with, Sunday afternoon when you realize you have to return to prison and you begin the grieving process. You prepare the house and family for you to be away. You eat your last meal and put your last words on social media.

Monday morning you walk into work like it’s Shawshank Redemption. Then, Tuesday rolls around and you hate the idea that you’re starting to get used to your workplace prison. Now Wednesday is hump day and it feels like sort of a break in the middle of your sentence. Thursday, you find yourself the largest cup of coffee known to man just to make it through the day. Then on Friday – you’re released!

Don’t get too excited though, you are only out on parol for the weekend. The office keeps you on a leash and put a shock collar on you called a cell phone.

Does that sound about right for you? We shape our work by how we think about it. If you hate Mondays, you’ll end up hating one seventh of your life. There must be a greater reason for work. There are actually six biblical reasons why work is in our lives.

1. Necessity: We work to meet our needs.

God also says that providing for my family is my spiritual responsibility. We are to take care of our own families as best as possible.

“The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”   2 Thessalonians 3:10

Notice the word unwilling. He’s talking to the unwilling, not the unable. Sometimes you can’t work because of a disability or sickness. But if you can work, you need to do your part. God did not put you here on earth just to provide for yourself. God expects you to make a contribution with your life.

“Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.”  Proverbs 13:4 (NLT)

Notice the word prosper. God is not opposed to prosperity. God is opposed to selfishness and greed, but God is not opposed to prosperity. Jesus praised businessmen who used business skills to make a profit. Profit is not the problem.

If necessity is the only reason for work, you’ll see work as a prison.

Your job is a platform. We’re so focused on the prison, we miss the platform we’ve been given from God to give Him glory.

2. Identity: God wants you to work so you can express what He made you to be. He’s given you certain gifts and talents.

“A lazy life is an empty life.”  Proverbs 12:27 (MSG)

God doesn’t want you to ignore your gifts and abilities. Work is a place to show your creativity and ingenuity. Work is a place to make a difference and to give back and express your identity. God has wired everyone to do something different so that everything gets done. 

“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.”  1 Peter 4:10 (NLT)

Ask Yourself: How can I personally advance the mission?

Most companies and places of employment have mission statements. Maybe the 2 of 3 of us who are unfulfilled in our jobs can understand and be about the mission of our company. When you don’t know the mission you’re on, you feel imprisoned.


Rock Brook Church

Mission Statement: We exist to bring you to Jesus Christ so you can find and fulfill God’s five purposes for your life. [Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry & Evangelism]

Vision: Know God, Find Freedom, Discover Purpose and Make a Difference

Values: Follow Jesus, Love People, Remember Why and Choose Joy


3. Character: God uses your work to develop your character.

God plants little seeds of character in your heart. Seeds of love, joy, peace and patience. Then He fertilizes those seeds of character, often, in the workplace because you spend so much of your life at work.

God is developing your character here on earth to prepare you for heaven. God is watching you so He can determine what kind of job to give you in eternity.

“So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?”  Luke 16:10-12

While you’re working on the job, God is working on you.

Ask Yourself: Who am I becoming?

4. Credibility: Your work is a witness to others. The quality of the work that you do can open up doors for you to share your faith. Good work is a good witness.

Your work demonstrates what you believe, especially when you’re under pressure. When people are making unreasonable demands on you and you respond to those demands in a Christ-like way, it grows your credibility as a follower of Jesus.

“Mind your own business, and to earn your own living, just as we told you before. In this way you will win the respect of those who are not believers…”  1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (GNT)

Respect is earned and before an unbeliever wants to know if Jesus is credible, they want to know if you’re credible.

“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16

Ask Yourself: How Can I Shine?

God scatters us throughout the darkness to shine a light so that when people see that light, the good work we do, they’ll want to know about our faith. They will ask why you are so forgiving? How are you so kind? It’s the fruit of the Spirit of Christ in you shining.

5. Generosity: If you want God’s blessing on your work you’ve got to be generous. 

“Use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.”  Ephesians 4:28 (NLT)

The more generous you are, the more God blesses your work. God wants us to become like Him and He is a generous God. Everything you have in life is due to the generosity of God.

“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”  Proverbs 11:25

Giving unlocks God’s blessing on your life.

“But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”  Deuteronomy 8:18

“And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”  Acts 20:35

Ask Yourself: What more can I give?

If you’re never asking this question, you don’t understand how much God gave for you. God gave Jesus.

6. Eternity: I can use my job to build God’s kingdom.

One way is to tell your co-workers the good news of Jesus. Work becomes your mission field. Another way you can do this is by making money in your business and giving it to Kingdom causes.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”  Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

“Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”  Matthew 6:20

You can store up for yourselves treasure in heaven. Not treasures for God, He doesn’t need it. God says you can create a bank account in heaven that is eternal, pays the highest dividends and nobody will steal it from you.

God says don’t just be a wealth builder, be a kingdom builder.

Maybe you think that you don’t do anything important at work. Your work has far more significance than you realize, because it wasn’t meant for just necessityGod wants to use your work for identityGod wants you to express your talents through work. God wants to use your work for character building. He wants your work to make you stronger, more mature, more patient. God wants to use your work for credibilityHe wants you to use your work as a platform to influence the people for the sake of the Gospel. God wants you to use your work for generosity He wants you to be selfless and generous enough to live on a little bit less so you can give a little bit more. You can waste your life, spend your life or invest your life. The best use of your life is to invest it in the Kingdom of God because it’s the only thing that’s going to last forever.

Ask Yourself: Where is my reward?

One day God is going to do an audit on your work. Everyone’s work will be put through the fire to see whether or not it keeps its value. What’s the value? Identity, Character, Credibility, Generosity and Eternity. If the work survives the fire, that person will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss.

This has nothing to do with salvation or getting into heaven. You get into heaven by asking Christ to forgive your sins. Your reward is about your position, your job in heaven. God wants to give you a great reward in heaven. The greater your reward, the greater His glory. That’s why your work is so important.

Will you say, God, I’m going to give you my work not just for one reason, but for all six reasons that you planned for my work to be?


Check Back

Leaders leverage their authority for the benefit of those under their authority. Did you ask anyone last week, “What can I do to help?” Did the principle, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.” help in any way?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Many people see work as a necessary evil. Work is not evil. Before sin entered the world, there was work. We will work in heaven. Work is not a result of sin, hard work is a result of sin.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Genesis 2:15

There are six reasons for work in our lives:

  1. It’s necessary.
  2. It lets us express our identity.
  3. It grows our character.
  4. It increases our credibility.
  5. It gives us the means to be generous.
  6. It empowers us to build God’s kingdom which lasts for eternity.

Application

Let’s just work through the five questions in your outline…

  1. How can you personally advance the mission of your workplace?
  2. How can your job grow your character?
  3. How can you let your light shine?
  4. What more can you give as a result of your job?
  5. Where is your reward?

Which question and reason for work do you need to focus on most right now?

Tell Someone Else

How could this message impact someone else in your life? Is there someone at your job you need to apologize to for something? Is there someone at your job you need to forgive?

 

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