What I want to preach about this morning is the subject of forgiveness, and why we should forgive other people, why it's so important for us to forgive people who do us wrong in our lives.
Now look at Matthew 6:12. The Bible reads, "And of forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." The first thing that I want to share you from the Bible as a reason why we should forgive is so that we can be forgiven. If we want God to forgive us, then we're going to need to forgive others according to the Bible here.
Now if you look at that scripture in verse 12, this is a prayer where the disciples have said unto Jesus, "Teach us to pray," and this is what he gives them as a sample prayer. He says, "After this manner therefore pray ye." He's given an example of how they should be praying. He says in verse 12, "And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." Now that's something that you could really pray this morning where you would look up to God and say, "God, forgive me in the same way that I forgive other people."
Now if you're an unforgiving person, if you're a person who holds grudges and bitterness against other people, then you wouldn't really be able to pray that, would you? Because if you said, "Well, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors," and you're an unforgiving person, you're basically saying to God treat me that way. Hold stuff against me years later. Get bitter about things that I've done. Obviously, no one would want to pray that prayer. Even to be able to pray that prayer, you have to be a forgiving person to even want to say that to God.
Now, I don't want you to become confused here with salvation. Now flip over if you would to Matthew chapter 18. When I talk about God forgiving you and if you forgive other people, God's going to forgive you; we're not talking about salvation. Salvation is not a daily thing. Salvation is a one-time thing. The Bible says that you must be born again in John chapter 3. Then later in John chapter 3, he says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." The Bible says, "He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God.
Of course, John 5:24 says, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, he that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life." According to the Bible, once we have believed on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ our savior, we have already been passed from death to life. We've already been saved, we shall not come into condemnation. The Bible says that we're sealed with the Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption. The Bible says that God has given us the earnest of the spirit in our hearts, and the earnest there means the downpayment like when you put earnest money down on a house.
God is saying that he has put down that downpayment of regenerating our spirit and he which has begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. He said, "I'll never leave thee nor forsake thee. We've been passed from death unto life. There's no way to lose our salvation because Jesus said I gave unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
There's a mountain of scriptures saying that salvation is by faith alone. There's a mountain of scripture that tells us that once we're saved, we have everlasting life. Being born again is not being born again and again and again and again. You're born once of the water when your mother's water breaks and you're born physically into this world and you're born once of the spirit when you call upon the name of the Lord by faith to be saved. It's a one-time thing getting saved.
You say, "What is this talking about then being forgiven?" Well, think about this. My children were only born into my family one time and no matter what they do, they will always be my children. If my son sins against me, if my son breaks the rules in the family, there's going to be a problem, isn't there? There's going to be a rift in the fellowship. There's going to be consequences that must be meted out when the children disobey the parents in the home.
Well, God is our heavenly father. Now, do we want our heavenly father to forgive us when we make mistakes or do we want him to punish us to the full extent of our crimes? Because God does punish us in this life. Just because we're saved and just because we're going to go to hell doesn't mean that there's no consequence for our actions because in this life, God will punish us just like I punish my children, just like I'll give them a spanking. God will give us a proverbial spanking in this life, but he's not going to kick us out of the family. He's not going to send us to hell. Once we believed on Jesus Christ, we're saved forever. If I were to go out and commit some awful sin, I'm going to get an awful punishment. If someone who is saved were to go out and commit a huge sin like murder or adultery, God is going to bring severe punishment into their life on this earth.
Now we can see how in a family, there would be times when my son would do wrong and would need forgiveness not in order to remain in the family, not in order to stay a member of the family; he's going to stay a member of the family no matter what, but to get forgiveness meaning that his sin is forgiven, forgotten, we move on from it, and so forth.
Now I don't know about you, but I'm still a sinner after I got saved. Now spiritually, according to my inward man, I'm not a sinner but I still have the flesh just like you have the flesh. We still will continue to sin after we get saved and let me ask you this, do you want God to be up in heaven watching for every little thing that you do wrong and ready to just cloud up and rain on you and give you the maximum punishment, or would you rather that God was a little more lenient and understanding and forgiving with you? Think about that.
How do you want God to treat you? Because even if you were to commit a crime today under our earthly justice system and go to a courtroom, there's not just one penalty laid out for that crime. There's a range. People will commit a crime and then there'll be a range of punishment. Maybe that crime carries with it 6 months to 5 years. That's a pretty big difference, isn't it? Going to prison for 6 versus 5 years? What is that going to be based on? It's going to be based on the judge's own discernment or the jury's own discernment, and that allows some room for there to be different varying degrees of punishment based on the severity of the crime, based on the circumstances, based on the situation, provides that human element of judgement where there's a range of punishment that's given.
Now think about this. If I were in my home and let's say my kids have been really rebellious and disrespectful. I might get to the point where I've had enough and I have it in for them and I'm watching them and I'm just ready for any little mistake that they make, I'm ready to come down on them. Other times when the kids are being good and I'm in a better mood, I'm going to be more lenient and not worry so much about the little things because let's face it, if I were to just expect perfection from my children and be ready at any little slip up, any little mistake, I'm just going to come down on them then they're going to be just constantly getting spanked because nobody's perfect.
Think about it, if God is up in heaven just looking for every time that you just think a bad thought or do the smallest little thing, he'd be coming down on you pretty hard every single day, I mean if he was really just marking every single mistake that you make. Does everybody understand? As opposed to when you're in good standing with your parents, they're not going to come down on you that hard. They're not going to be looking for every little thing.
If you're in good standing with the Lord, he's going to be more gracious. He's going to be more lenient with you. He's going to be more forgiving when you make mistakes and when you confess your sins to him than someone who won't confess their sins, someone who's just brazenly living wrong and doesn't care as a Christian is going to get a lot more severe of a punishment.
It'd be like for example, let's say when you're driving down the road and the speed limit is 45 miles an hour. You're probably going 46, 47, 48; you're probably going 51, 52 because you know that you have to go 10 over before the police really get on you. Usually, you have this 45, you go 50; 65, you go 70. Who drives that way, 5 above? Yeah, the entire building. Yeah, exactly.
The point is you know that that leniency is there. What if all of a sudden, there were just a device in your car that were installed by the government where every time you go 1 mile above, it's just like ... A ticket just prints out. You're in a 35 zone, you go 36? This is like ... Whoa, what in the ... 150 bucks? Or you just barely roll through a stop sign and this computer can know that. This computer can tell that you rolled through that stop sign just like ... We have a stop sign because [you did 00:10:10] the California stop.
What I'm saying is that if anybody were that strict with it, we'd all be getting tickets every single day. If your parents were that strict, you'd be getting ... Just like it's happening right now back there. Somebody's not in good standing. What I'm saying is that we don't want God because God knows all. God would be even more accurate than that device in your car. God knows every thought, God knows every action that you do. He really does have that much knowledge about you. Do you want God to be just up in heaven saying, "Every mistake you make, every sin you commit, every time you slip up, every time you fail to do that which is right, every time you do something that's wrong, I'm going to be there to come down on you with the maximum chastening and the maximum punishment." Who wants to live their live like that before God?
Here's the thing, if that's how you are with other people, that's how God's going to be with you. If you're a person who's very forgiving of other people and when people do wrong and they're sorry about it, then you are very gracious with them, you forgive and forget, you love that person, you give people a lot of latitude and you're like Jesus who said, "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they do." Or like Stephen who said, "Lord, let not this sin be laid to their charge," as people were killing him. These are people who are going to get great forgiveness from God also because God is going to treat you in regard to forgiveness the way that you treat other people.
That's what the Bible says, I mean right there it says, "If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you." That's a great promise. That means if I go through life forgiving people, that means if I wake up every morning and give everybody a fresh start and I'm not holding grudges against people from the past, that means if I give my wife a fresh start, my kids a fresh start, my friends at church a fresh start, my friends at work a fresh start and I'm a forgiving person ... And things that people did wrong to me 6 months ago, a year ago, 2 years ago, I've just completely forgotten about. You know what that tells me? That that's how God is going to treat me. Stuff that I did in the past, God's going to let it go. God's going to give me a fresh start. That's a great promise. Just to be able to go through life just knowing that you have a clean slate. Why? Because you give other people a clean slate.
This is a pretty powerful truth once you grasp it. Go to Matthew chapter 18 and just go along with what I was just explaining about if we were to just be nailed every time we made a mistake either by law enforcement or by God or by anybody. It says in Psalm 130:3, "If thou Lord shouldest mark iniquities, o Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared."
Now this story in Matthew 18 is a powerful story. It says in verse 21, "Then came Peter to him and said, "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Till 7 times?" Peter is saying what if somebody sins against me 7 times, that's where I draw the line, right? That's where the 8th time, no mercy, no forgiveness. "Jesus saith unto him, "I say not unto thee until 7 times but until 70 times 7," which is what? 490 times.
Now I don't think anybody in this church or in your family has sinned against you 490 times and you're keeping track and you know, when my wife gets that 490th time or when my husband gets that 490th ... Because you do live with your ... We probably have sinned against each other 490 times when we're married, but that's different. What I'm saying is this is your brother. The point is that who's going to sit there and keep track? When Jesus said 7 times 70, he's just saying, "You know what? No, you just keep forgiving." It's what he's saying there. Obviously that's what he means.
He gives a story to illustrate that. He says in verse 23, "Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him which owed him 10,000 talents." If you [inaudible 00:14:31] Bible, the talent is a large unit of money. This would be like a guy and again, all different people are going to tell you all different amounts that he owed and it doesn't really tell us are we talking talents of silver, talents of gold. The equivalent, let's just say it's a hundred thousand dollars or a few hundred thousand dollars or whatever. It's some huge amount of money, millions of dollars, whatever, massive amount of money.
It says in verse 25, "But for as much as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold and his wife and children and all that he had and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down and worshipped him saying, "Lord, have patience with me and I will pay thee all." Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion and loosed him and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out and found one of his fellow servants which owed him an hundred pence and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat saying, "Pay me that thou owest.""
Again, I don't think the exact amount is important, but instead of being 10,000 talents, it's a hundred pence. It's a hundred of something small, pence is smaller than the talent. It's a hundred of something small instead of 10,000 of something huge. He goes out and he's owed a small amount of money and it says in verse 28 that he took him by the throat saying, "Pay me that thou owest." "And his fellow servant fell down at his feet and besought him saying, "Have patience with me and I will pay thee all." Sound familiar?
"And he would not but went and cast him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what was done they were very sorry and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him said unto him, "O thou wicked servant. I forgave thee all that debt because thou desiredst me. Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant even as I had pity on thee?" And his lord was wroth ..." wroth is where we get the word wrath. Wroth means very angry. "And delivered him to the tormentors till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."
Now look, that's a pretty severe negative here. See, in the other version in Matthew 6, we had a more positive [inaudible 00:16:54]. Hey, if you forgive people, God's going to forgive you. That's a great promise. What about this curse that says hey, if you are like that with other people where you're taking them by the throat every time they wrong you and every time they owe something saying, "Pay me that thou owest," then he says that God's going to torment you. God's going to punish you. God's going to put you through pain until you've paid what you owe. God's going to look at the things that you do in your life and when you commit sin and when you make mistakes and do things that are wrong, God is going to punish you and torment you until you've paid for it. He's going to be just taking the belt off every single time you make a mistake and wailing on you.
Now who wants to go through life with that hanging over your head? Well, you should stop and think about that then when you want to hold a grudge and be bitter against people and be unforgiving towards people. You need to forgive so that you will be forgiven. That's the number 1 reason why should we forgive? In order to be forgiven because it is a major blessing or a major curse depending on how we are.
Now look, this applies to us today in a marriage especially this is big, because if you are going to mark the iniquities of your wife or mark the iniquities of your husband, no one's going to be able to stand. I've been married for 14 years. What if I were to just keep a catalog of everything that my wife has done to hurt me or to harm me or done wrong in the last 14 years of marriage, 365 days a year, 14 years. You don't think I could come up with a list of things that my wife has done that made me very upset, that were hurtful to me? What if I just hung on to all those things? What if she did the same thing? All the things that I've done wrong and said wrong and acted wrong in the last 14 years. What if we both just remember all that and hang on to all that and are bitter about all that?
You wonder why so many marriages end in divorce. It would be impossible to have a good relationship because there's nobody goes through 14 years without wronging their spouse. If we were both just hang on to that, it's just going to keep escalating and building up, just the bitterness and the anger and the wrath and it's going to destroy our marriage, and it's also going to destroy our walk with God because God demands that we forgive our spouse because he demands that we forgive all of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
You can see how this is critical in a marriage. In fact, divorce could not exist without a violation of this principle because you can't get divorce in 1 day. There's a period of getting divorce. It takes a month or 3 months or 6 months. That shows that somebody is holding a grudge about something. Somebody is hanging on to bitterness. Instead of as the Lord says in Lamentations chapter 3 where it says, "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness," and the Bible tells us, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath."
If everybody had a policy in their marriage of saying, "Hey, let's have a new start every day. Let's start over, let's go to bed, let's forgive and forget, and let's wake up the next day with a fresh start, then it would be impossible for the bitterness to fester and canker and sour and become something that rots at the core of your marriage. The same thing can happen in a church where people become bitter and hold grudges against other people in the church and it builds up over time just as the offenses wrack up. So and so didn't shake my hand. She wore the same dress as me, and she knew I was going to wear it, embarrass us both. I don't know.
Whatever the case may be of just petty offenses of, "Oh, he invited a few people out to dinner and I wasn't included. She invited a bunch of people over and didn't invite me." Or, "Oh, she made a joke about this," or "He made a joke about this," or "He said this," or "He said that." You got to deal with stuff like that and you have to forgive and you have to move forward so that bitterness does not compound. Even at work, this type of bitterness can build up and destroy the solidarity that's found within a company.
Now let's back up a little bit in Matthew 18 because we see this great story but actually, if you back up a little bit, you get a little more context to the story that we often maybe don't associate with the story, but it is associated with the story. Because if we back up to verse 15, we're still on the same subject. In fact, Peter's question is a response to the teaching that begins in verse 15 because in Matthew 18:15, it says, "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee." What's happening here? One person is sinning against another. One person is doing somebody wrong. It says here what we should do when someone does that's wrong. Does it say get bitter, get angry, go home, complain to your spouse about it, hate that person? No. What does it say? "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone."
Now a lot of times, that's not something that we want to do. A lot of times, we just say, "I don't want to make trouble." Now let me tell you this, it's great to just let things go and pass over a transgression. That's a glorious thing if somebody can do you wrong and you can just let it roll off you like water off a duck's bag. That's the best case scenario in a perfect world. Somebody does you wrong and you just don't care, doesn't matter.
Here's the thing, sometimes because we're human, we're not able to just forget and forgive that easily, are we? It's hard sometimes when somebody really does you wrong. That's why the Bible tells us to go and rebuke that person. It says go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou has gained thy brother.
In a perfect world, someone does wrong to you, you go to that person and say, "Look, you've done me wrong. Here's what you did and it was wrong. I want you to apologize to me for doing wrong to me." Then in a perfect world, what's that person going to do? They're going to hear you and say, "Wow, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that." Then what does the Bible say? If they neglect to hear thee, look at verse 16, "If he will not hear thee, take then with thee 1 or 2 more that in the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."
Now a lot of times, big grievances and big offences are swept under the rug but is that really what the Bible's teaching? The Bible is saying deal with problems. If somebody does somebody wrong, they need to be confronted and it needs to be one on one first of all. Why? So that people aren't embarrassed so that it doesn't drag other people into it. If that doesn't work, then you bring 2 or 3 or you bring 1 or 2 with you so that there are going to be 2 or 3 total, that every word can be established so somebody can't lie about it and say that something was said other than what was said. It says that if they won't listen to you coming to them and the 2 witnesses that you've brought and your saying, "Look, you've done wrong here. You need to apologize." Then he says tell it unto the church. Then if they won't hear the church, well let them be unto you as a heathen man and as a publican because the church should be able to decide these matters when they happen.
Now if it's something petty though and something small, you don't just invoke Matthew 18. You know what I mean? You didn't shake my hand, and I'm bringing 2 witnesses to me. That's just stupid. Or if it's just something small, somebody just makes a joke, somebody says something, come on. Don't be that thin skinned. Don't be a baby. You can't just be just every little thing, you're just ready to just flip out. You don't go confront someone because they invited people out on a high acre dinner or a ladies and they didn't invite you, and you're going to confront them about that. You've trespassed against me because you went to [inaudible 00:25:47] and I wasn't invited. That's not the kind of junior high type. Or you didn't accept my friend request on Facebook.
I'm not talking about dumb, petty things. I'm talking about actual, real offenses, real offenses. Let me give you some examples. Somebody backs into your car in the parking lot. You know what I mean? Somebody just backs into your car and just drives away. Look, a lot of people would just get mad, be bitter, be angry, just think bad thoughts about that person. What would be the right thing to do if somebody backs into your car in the parking lot would be to go to them and say, "You've backed into my car. You've damaged my vehicle." They should say that they're sorry. "I'm sorry that I damaged your vehicle." Ideally, they should make it right.
To sit there and confront people about dumb, petty little things where nobody intended any harm, it's just some tiny little thing or just some meaningless thing or you just ... I just didn't really like your tone of voice, stuff like that is ridiculous. When there's a real offense, when something is actually done that's wrong, when somebody trespasses against you.
For example, somebody a while back just sent me a really offensive text message and I went to that person and said, "This is offensive." They also lied about my wife to me. I went to that person and I said, "This is offensive. You need to apologize." They said no. I took 2 witnesses and said, "Here's the witnesses. I showed them the text messages. I said this is not right, this is offensive. You're going to apologize." I said, "You've lied in this text. You're going to apologize to me." "No, I won't apologize."
I said, "Then get out of my office and let's go on before the whole church then." Because he's not hearing me. I'm saying, "Look, you've lied about me. You've mistreated me in a serious way, and I'm not going to just sit here and get all bitter at you and get all mad at you and hateful to you. I'm going to confront you with it because my goal is to fix the problem, and then we can move forward." Because look, if somebody comes to you and says, "I've done wrong, I'm sorry," you need to let it go, and if you don't let it go, you're not Christ like. If you don't let it go, God's not going to let things go with you.
It's not wrong to rebuke someone because the Bible actually commands us that if somebody trespasses against us and again, if we're not talking about some dumb little petty junior high type thing. We're talking about a real offense where somebody says something very offensive or does something very offensive or damages your property or whatever, then it needs to be dealt with.
Look at Luke 17, Luke chapter 17, and this is biblical doctrine. God is telling us how to handle this. Here's the thing, that story that Jesus tells us in response to that because after the part where he says take 2 or 3 witnesses, tell it to the church, right after he finishes explaining that doctrine in the next breath, Peter says, "Well, how often does somebody sin against me, and I forgive them?" It's in the context of that statement.
Let me prove it to you further. Look at Luke 17:3. It says, "Take heed to yourselves. If thy brother trespass against thee, ignore it." Is that what it says? It says, "If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee 7 times in a day and 7 times in a day turn again to thee saying, I repent. Thou shalt forgive him." Here he says, "Oh, it's not 7 times total; it's 7 times a day, 7 times per day."
Now this is the same that's taught in Leviticus 19. You flip over to Luke 6, but in Leviticus 19:17, it says this, "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart. Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. I am the Lord." The Lord teaches even all the way back in Leviticus to when people sin against you, don't have a grudge, don't get bitter, don't hate them in your heart, rebuke them and let it go. Let it go.
Sometimes in a marriage, this can even be appropriate too. Sometimes in a marriage, people don't communicate. Somebody does something that makes them upset, and then they just don't say anything and instead they just get bitter and hurt and upset. Sometimes it's better to just state that you're offended because a lot of things are just a misunderstanding. Sometimes someone might say something that offends you or hurts you without even really knowing it, and it's a misunderstanding. Again warning, don't be thin skinned. Don't be a total baby. It has to be a real offense.
Look at Luke 6:36. It says, "Be ye therefore merciful as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged. Condemn not and ye shall not be condemned. Forgive and ye shall be forgiven." Now go to Ephesians chapter 4, and the Bible reads in verse 2, "With all lowliness and meekness, with long suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." If we're going to have unity in our church, if we're going to have unity in our homes, if there's going to be unity in a business, the Bible says we have to forbear one another in love. Look at verse 32, it says, "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
Now flip over to Colossians chapter 3. Colossians 3 is a parallel passage with Ephesians 4 and it says in Colossians 3:13, "Forbearing one another ..." which is the same thing he said in Ephesians, "Forbearing one another and forgiving one another if any man have a quarrel against any even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."
I can stand up here this morning and I can say from the bottom of my heart and I can mean this and we have no reservations about saying this. I can stand up here and say that there is not a single person in this auditorium that I have a problem with, not one. I can honestly say that, I mean I can stand in the presence of God and I can pray to him and say, "God, forgive me my debts as I forgive my debtors. God, forgive me as I've forgiven others." Because I can honestly say, and I'm not lifting myself up because this is a pretty easy ... This is just an easy way to get God to be lenient with you.
I can honestly stand up and say that there is not a single person in this building that I've any bitterness toward, any grudge against. If you're in this building, you think that I have any bitterness toward you or grudge against you, you're wrong because I don't. Literally, I ... sometimes [I have 00:33:21] come to me and apologize to me and I'm like, "What are you talking about? I didn't remember. I didn't remember that. I don't even know what you're talking about."
Again, I'm just saying that's what we have to do as Christians. That's what God demands of us. That's what God requires us. I don't just mean some kind of a mental acrobatics where you just say like, "Well yeah, I forgive him. God told me to forgive, so I forgive you," but in your heart ... It says you have to ... He said, and let me read it to you again because it's such an important point. Verse 35 of Matthew 18 said, "So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."
This isn't just a going through the motions of forgiveness. This is a literal, genuine, from the heart where you just do not have any bitterness or ill will toward that person and you let it go. Look, it's not always easy and I'm not going to say that I've always been perfect to this. There have been times when people have done ... Maybe my wife did something that made me mad for several days or maybe one of my kids did something that made me mad for several days or somebody in the church did me wrong and made me mad [inaudible 00:34:38]. I'm not saying I'm perfect, but I'm saying right now I can honestly say that I've forgiven everyone in my heart. We have to do that, and we should strive toward just a daily reset button.
Let me tell you this, the times when I've struggled to forgive is when I did not confront the person about it. Because when you confront the person about it or at least just tell them, it doesn't have to be in a mean way or rude way. If you at least tell them and just clear the air, it's much easier to just move on. It's just much easier. You just get it out there, you say, "Look, here's the situation," and you just move on.
There have been a lot of times when I didn't even have to do that because you just ... Sometimes if it's a small thing, you can just move on anyway. You just be an adult. Then you say, "How do I do it, Pastor Anderson? This is something that's hard for me. It's hard for me to forgive people at church. It's hard for me to forgive my spouse or it's hard for me to forgive people in my family or people in my job." We have to get Christ's forgiveness and perspective. That's what's going to allow us to do this. When we focus in the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross for all of our sins and is willing to forgive us and let us walk right into heaven with a clean slate, all our sins washed away, that puts things in perspective.
When you think about it that way and when you think about the forgiveness of Christ, you can look at it and say, "You know what, it's worth it for me to just be able to forgive this person in order to please God because he's done so much for me and he's forgiven me so much." Just think about this. If this is something you struggle with, think about the story. Think about the story about the guy grabbing his fellow servant that owes him a little money by the throat and saying, "Pay me what you owe. Pay that thou owest." Hey, and think about I'm that guy. When you have bitterness and an unforgiving spirit in your heart toward other people, just remember you're that guy who just got forgiven some massive astronomical debt and you have somebody held by the throat that owes you a little bit. Because Christ has forgiven you more than you're ever going to be expected to forgive others.
Why should we forgive? Number 1, because we want to be forgiven. That's a big one in the Bible. Number 2, why do we forgive? Because we're commanded to forgive. Number 3, why do we forgive? Because it's for the sake of the unity of our marriage, the unity of our church, the unity of our family, the unity of our business. Because the Bible says endeavoring to keep the unity in the spirit of the bond of peace by forbearing one another in love. Then in Colossians, he said, "Forbearing one another and forgiving one another if any man have a quarrel against any even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." That's a tall order, but that's what God expects of us Christians.
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." The 4th reason why we should forgive is because people sometimes just do stupid things, and they don't really mean any harm by it. They're just stupid. Forgive them, I mean he says they don't know what they do. Why? Why should I forgive them? He said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
A lot of times, people do you wrong, they're just not thinking. They're just being dumb. They just haven't learned yet. They're immature, especially when the person that's doing you wrong is a child or a teenager or a really young adult. A lot of times, it's just inexperience that causes people to do dumb things. By the way, we should intercede for people, too. If you know somebody who's real bitter against someone else, you should intercede and say, "Hey, forgive that person. Let it go. Here's why." I've interceded for people and said to people, "He's young. He's inexperienced. He's immature. He doesn't mean any harm by it. He's just dumb." Or "She is just young and inexperienced. She doesn't know better. She's just foolish because she's young." Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child.
We should intercede when our own hearts realize that sometimes people are doing this because they're dumb. You know why else sometimes people do things wrong, is just because they're going through really bad times in their life. We should give people extra grace and extra latitude when they're going through that. Somebody's child dies, for example, and let's say they say something really mean and rude to you. How can you not forgive that person when you realize what they're going through? Maybe somebody is going through things you don't know about. Maybe somebody's going through serious marriage problems. Maybe somebody went through the loss of a child. Maybe somebody's going through severe health problems. Maybe somebody's going through other issues that you have no idea about, and that's why they treated you bad. It's not that they hate you. It's not that they're a bad person.
All of us, when we're going through bad times can sometimes be at our worst. All of us go through times when we're sick or when we're suffering emotionally from whatever the reason, maybe people are going through serious financial problems. Sometimes you just catch people on a bad day and they just let it out on you. Forgive them. They know not what they do. They're not trying to do harm.
I remember one day, I was having a really bad day. This only happened a few weeks ago. I was having a really bad day. I was in a bad mood. It's just everything's going wrong. I was just already mad, and I went to the gas station and there was this guy there. This guy is like one of the neighborhood bums. He's always wandering around. He's like a derelict, homeless, drunkard kind of a guy who hangs around this area. I've given this guy the gospel in the past. The first time I met him, I gave him the gospel, went through the whole plan of salvation with him. He didn't care. He wasn't interested.
The second time I met him, he marched him into the church building. This is in the old church building. He marched into the church building and ... "I want to talk to the pastor." He was totally drunk. "I want to talk to the pastor." I said, "I'm busy." "No, you're a pastor. You have to listen to me. Sit down and listen to me." I said, "I don't talk to drunks. Get out of here. You don't just march in here drunk, and tell me I have to talk. I'm a different kind of pastor than you're used to." I grabbed the guy and threw him out of the building because he wouldn't leave and I was working. I don't have time for drunks. I'd be glad to talk to him when he's in his right mind. I've talked to him when he was in his right mind, give him the gospel.
[inaudible 00:41:33] I saw this guy at the gas station 3 or 4 weeks ago and I was having the worst day, I was in a real bad mood, and I get out of the car, I'm getting gas, and he walks up me, "Oh, excuse me, sir." I'm like, "I don't have time for you right now." Because I've already dealt with this guy 5 or 6 times, and I wouldn't have normally just done that, but I was already in a bad mood. I was already having a bad day and this guy comes ... He didn't recognize me. I recognized him even though I've dealt with the guy 5, 6, 7 times. He's hitting people up all day every day asking people for money, so he can get more alcohol or whatever. I know this guy. I've seen him all around this neighborhood because I live a half mile from here. I know who this guy is. I just said, "I don't have time for you." "Oh man, I'm sorry." You caught me at a bad time, buddy.
Here's the thing, sometimes you might catch other people at a bad time, and it's not right for them to snap at you. I shouldn't have just snapped at that guy like that, but I'm just saying you catch people at bad time and you don't know what's going on in people's lives and they're suffering and I'm constantly trying to intercede for people when they come to me and tell me. Because always people will come to me and tell me, "Hey, this person did this and this person did that." Sometimes they're right. I say, "Well yeah, you're right. A person shouldn't have done that."
Sometimes I tell them, "You know, did you know that this person's going through this in their life? Does that put it into perspective for you?" I go, "Well yeah, now that you say that, I can see why they did what they did or said what they did because they're suffering right now." When you're suffering, you sometimes have a shorter fuse with people or you sometimes are going to do people wrong.
These are things we need to keep in mind. Why should we forgive? Because Christ has forgiven us. Why should we forgive? Because God commands us to forgive. Why should we forgive? For the sake of unity. Keeping the unity in the church, keeping the unity in our marriage, keeping the unity in all situations. Then also just because sometimes people just do dumb things. They're going through stuff; we don't understand always the motives behind it. Give people grace because you've done a lot of the same things other times when people caught you at the wrong time or at your worst. We're all at our best sometimes and at our worst sometimes. Your spouse is sometimes at their best and sometimes at their worst. You just have to understand that we're all human.
Let me just quickly close on this. Not only forgive but forgive and forget. This is an important principle. We need to not just forgive but to forgive and forget. Now you are not always going to be able to literally forget completely but let me tell you something, it is very possible to forget because I have a theory about memory because I've noticed that some people have a really good memory about their childhood and their past. Other people, they remember almost nothing from their childhoods. It's weird.
My dad is someone who remembers every detail of his childhood, and it frustrates him because my dad will get around his cousins and will get around childhood friends, "Remember this? Remember that?" "No, no." It's major stuff, and they forgot these major events. He remembers every detail, and he was even very upset at someone because he had given them a huge gift when they were kids 50 years ago. I can't even comprehend how long that is because I'm not, you know. Like they said to Jesus, "Thou are not yet 50 years old." I'm not even 50 years old, so I don't even know what that's like 40, 50 years. I have no concept of anything beyond 33 years and I don't even remember all that. First few years are just a blur. What I'm saying is that he was offended because I gave him this huge gift. "How can you not remember what I did for you when we were 10 years old and we're in our 40s now or 50s now, and you don't remember."
I have a theory about why my dad has such a good memory of his childhood. It's not by accident. It's not because he just has this super duper memory brain. He's just a fluke of nature because I have a great memory of my childhood too. I could sit there and go through each year of school, tell you everything about it, tell you the teachers, the other students, the events that happened. There's a reason why my dad remembers all that, and there's a reason why I remember all that, and it's because we are storytellers. My dad is constantly telling stories about his childhood, and he's constantly thinking about his childhood and he keeps retelling the story and thinking about it and looking at the pictures. He's a very nostalgic person that causes him to remember these things.
Someone else he talked to remembers nothing. Why? Because they don't think about it. They're not nostalgic. They don't tell stories. Some people are storytellers and some aren't. I'm constantly telling stories. I like to listen to stories. I like to tell stories, and so these things are very fresh in my mind. My theory is it's virtually impossible to remember something from 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago. The only way to remember something from 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago is to think about it in between.
It's not that you're remembering from 40 years ago, you're remembering the time that you remembered the time that you remembered the time that you remembered something from 40 years ago. Unless you keep revisiting those memories and keep retelling that story either in your own mind, either you're just maybe just sitting down and just reminiscing on the past, just thinking about the past. Sometimes I do that. Sometimes I just sit down, just think about just different stories and different things, or just constantly telling the stories. That's the way to remember.
People who don't do that, you ask them stuff about the child, they know almost nothing and it's bizarre to someone who does know. I could tell you every school I went to, every ... Because I went to a different school every year. I could tell you all the schools, the teachers, the people, stories. I meet a childhood friend. I remember this, remember this, remember this, remember this; I got tons of stories. What's the moral of the story that I'm telling right now? The moral of the story is this, if you don't keep rehashing it, if you don't keep retelling the story, if you don't keep talking about it, you will literally be able to forgive and forget. You'll be able to forgive and forget.
You know what causes you not to forget is when you keep thinking about it and even worse, keep talking about it. Stuff that's already been dealt with, quit talking about it, quit thinking about it, and you will eventually literally forget. I'm not putting on an act when people say, "Hey, I'm sorry about the time." What are you talking about? I just don't remember because it's not something that I want to dwell on or think about.
Other things I do like to think about. I like to preserve the stories of my life, so I constantly revisit them and tell those stories to keep them fresh. Some people are like that, some people aren't, some people don't care. Some people don't care about the past. It's just a different personality. Let me just read to you a few verses on that. Hebrews 8:12, the Lord says, "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." He said in Hebrews 10:17, "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Psalm 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us."
God not only forgives, but he forgets. He says, "I won't remember it anymore. It's been separated from you as far as the east is from the west." We need to strive in our lives to forgive and forget. Now if there's something that you can't get over, you need to rebuke that person. You need to bring that up, but whether you need to rebuke that person or whether you don't need to rebuke that person, if it's small, you don't need to. If it's big, you probably need to. You need to in all events let it go, and be able to honestly from your heart say, "I have no bitterness toward anyone in Faithful Word Baptist Church. None, zero. Except ... No, there's no exceptions.
Or I have no bitterness against my spouse. I'm giving it a fresh start. No bitterness against my parents. No bitterness against my children. No bitterness against my coworkers. We need to strive. It's especially true of our brothers and sisters in Christ. That's mainly who we're ... We look at these scriptures, that's what they're dealing with mainly. We need to really work on just being a forgiving person. If we want God to be gracious to us in our lives. It's very important that God bless us in our lives. He holds our faith in his hands. He decides whether things go well for us or go poorly for us. If you want things to go well, you must get the truth of this morning's sermon. If you fail at this morning's sermon, you will fail at life.
Let's [inaudible 00:51:07] in a word of prayer. Father, we thank you so much for your word, Lord, and for this powerful truth of forgiveness. The ultimate forgiveness, Lord, is that you have forgiven us and that you even forgave those that nailed you to the cross. You said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Even that Roman soldier said, "Truly, this was the son of God. I believe we'll see him in heaven." He was forgiven even of doing that heinous crime, Lord. Thank you so much for your forgiveness and please, Lord, help us to forgive others and Lord, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. In the same way that we forgive our debtors, forgive us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.