VN520419 10-14-2015 Forgiving Others
I was asked to speak on this particular subject. The question was based on Matthew 6:14-15. “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you your transgressions.” The question was if I don’t forgive somebody then I’m going to go to hell? Evidently I’ve had other people ask me this. They are so upset with somebody for whatever it is they’ve done. I’ve had people with major things and people that are just picayunish and it’s small things, and they say I just can’t do it, I just can’t do it, I just can’t do it. Therefore, I’m going to hell and I know it. They believe God, they believe the Word and all this kind of stuff, but based on those words they really believe that they are going to hell and there’s no hope for them because no matter what, they haven’t been able to do it.
The Greek looks like this. I’m just showing off because I can copy out of the book. (Alpha phi iota). This is actually the letter o, m, and i again. Iota. It’s a Greek word and it’s the word to forgive. First of all, let me say straight up front, you will not go to hell if you cannot forgive somebody. That is not your have all, end all. That is just a sin just like anything else is. Christ made this statement and He was living under the Old Testament. The word that I wrote up there is the Greek word for forgive, and most people don’t understand what that word actually means. It means to send away. Send away as in a husband divorces his wife and he sends her away, or a wife divorces the husband and she sends him away. It means to, this is the one I like, let go. Just let it go. Disregard it. To give up a debt. The other part of that verse is it says if we don’t forgive then God won’t forgive us, but it’s the idea of both verses are in the Old Testament. The Old Testament is very legalistic, very based on that. In Matthew Jesus says you have heard it said an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, etc. All that kind of stuff. It comes out of Deuteronomy 19.
Yeah, I know. Is anybody getting the idea of going out already? Deuteronomy 19:21. “Thus you shall not show pity.” Hmm. “You shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” That is just really mean isn’t it? Yeah, everybody will hear and be afraid. So, the idea of this comes out eye for eye, tooth for tooth, and Jesus says you have heard it said eye for eye, and then He gives them this other commandment that we’re not to be that way. Hit her again. We’re not to be that way, but we are to be forgiving of our enemies. It’s okay that we all love each other but we should love our enemies, and He takes it and kicks it up a notch. What they did is, we need to separate the idea between in Old Testament there is civil law, there is religious law. They lived in a theocracy. We live in separation of church and state even though that’s not in the Constitution. We need to understand as church people there is civil law and it does need to be enforced. You can’t just let murderers and all the nasty people run loose and run free because your society will break down. Hmm. Do you think that’s what’s going on today?
We have the religious side of it, and a lot of people say well, I can’t go to court and enforce the laws because my religion tells me otherwise. We need to hold both of them in tension. As a Christian we are not to attack the people, but as a Christian also under civil rules we should testify against somebody if they have done something like they have committed a murder even if it’s against a family member, they commit a murder and I know people say well, I can’t testify because I have to forgive them or I won’t go to heaven. Therefore, they will let these people walk away free. But, the idea is, enforce your civil law. You’ve got to protect other people and yes, it is forgiven. Let it go. You are not to do this, and this is the idea that we’re supposed to be going for. The Jewish people had this idea that they are entitled to vengeance and that was what they were going for. I am going for vengeance against my enemies. So, they couldn’t let things go because they wanted to square all the accounts and they wanted to take vengeance on these people. Rather, we’re to testify and say this is the law and it says these people should be punished and I’m telling the truth about the event that happened, but as for myself I am going to let it go. I am not going to take vengeance myself.
Now, the whole sanctuary city thing which I’ve talked about in the past, that was an act of passion. Right then, right there, if you did something, manslaughter, and it wasn’t premeditated, you took out and charged off. Well, you know, because the family is going, ”They killed my brother, my sister, my wife, my kid”, whatever. “They killed so-and-so and I’m going to get them”, and that’s just an act of emotional passion and they would go after the person immediately so you would have to go to a sanctuary city and then the judges would sort out whether it was premeditated or whether it was an accident and the person got killed. In the same way God is going I realize that there is this streak in people and evidently the commentators all believe that the Jewish people really have this legalistic streak, I have a right to take vengeance, and by the way that seems to be a thing that is very prominent in the Middle East even today is there are a lot of people that are demanding the right to take vengeance. I demand my right and so they will take vengeance on each other and blood feuds go on and Christ is going no, let it go. You survived. You let it go. Forgiveness means that you are saying I will not take vengeance on a personal level. I personally will not take vengeance against that person. I will forgive that person. I will let it go.
That doesn’t mean that when the court comes around and says did you see this happen? Yes. And did it happen to you? Yes it did. Will you testify? Yes I can, because You’re not doing it to take vengeance. You’re doing it to tell the truth and in this same way as not going after them as a thing of vengeance. You’re not going to lie and cheat against them, but rather you’ve let it go and you say I’m going to do this to prevent this person from doing the same thing to other people. So, we are to forgive our enemies. Let it go. Mainly letting it go will benefit ourselves. It will release us from all the turmoil. It will release us from the stress. I know people who are so petty. I mean just what they consider even a slight they will go out of their way and harbor a grudge and try to figure out some way to get that person, and it will be totally unrelated to what the person did.
Passive/aggressive people do this kind of stuff. They will sit around and think “What can I do to get even?” and they will do something passively. They don’t overtly go out and attack the person, but they’ll set the person up so that it brings them harm, it brings the other person harm, and that is the aggression, but if anything is said they can say “Oh no, not me, I’ve got clean hands”, and all the time they’re the ones that were plotting to cause this person to have this ill. So, passive/aggression things are going on there. You seem passive but really you’re going after them. I’ve seen it. They can’t let just the slightest little thing go and it just tears them up until they feel like they’ve done something to get even. I know a family of people that is that way.
Also, when we do let these things go, when a person sees that we are not out to get them anymore it could be something that causes them to come around and change their mind about the way things are. So, as we forgive, we let go. That doesn’t mean we don’t back up civil law. We just let this go and it’s between us and them and we’re saying God, I am going to forgo my right to take vengeance. Now we’re going to get to that in a little bit. There is nothing in the scripture that says forgive and forget, and that’s where people think this whole idea of forgiveness requires this forgetting. It doesn’t say that. If somebody beats the ever loving snot out of you and they beat you every time they saw you, let it go, forgive them, don’t forget it. Don’t let yourself get in the situation where you will be where they can beat you again. Don’t forget that. You know, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, and I think that’s where forgiveness people can’t see that forgiveness doesn’t mean that you have to be buddy buddies.
If I was in business with somebody and they ripped me off, and they cleaned out the bank account, and they took everything I had, and I had to declare bankruptcy because of what they did I’d forgive them. Let it go. I will never go into business again with them ever, ever, ever. I will not have them invited over to my house. There are people that I have forgiven. I harbor no ill will, I’m not out to get them, I do not want them to go to hell, I do not want them to suffer pain. I’m starting to sound like Dr. Seuss. One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. You know, I don’t want to take vengeance on them, and at the same time I don’t want to be around them and I will say God, I hope they get saved. I hope they repent. I hope they go to heaven and I hope I don’t see them for the first half millennium because I don’t know what I would do even up there. You know, I might be hmm. Hmm.
An excellent thing I’ve always had to get in my head is, you know, once we get to heaven we’re not going to resent people because we will understand a lot. We will understand it better by and by. So, forgiveness does not require that we forget. It does not require that we become buddy, buddy, buddies with those people. God does forgive and it says He forgets. God forgives, He forgets, He throws it into the sea of forgetfulness. That is really a turn of phrase. That is just a saying. It’s trying to communicate, because God knows everything, okay, but the idea is when He forgives us He forgets the idea that He will ever take vengeance upon us for that and as time goes on He will never bring it up to us. He has understood it. The prosecution was against Christ. He will not bring it up to us 600 million years into the heavens stay and He goes yeah, I just got to thinking about it last night and I’m really upset with you. No, He has the emotional capability of just letting it go.
Now Proverbs 22, and I don’t know why I wrote this down, Proverbs 22:3. 22:3. “The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on, and are punished for it.” It’s just backing the idea of you have forgiveness, you can give it, you’re prudent. He is evil. Even though you’re not going to seek vengeance you hide yourself from that person. You take precautions to keep them away from you. You get court orders against them if you have to. You’re saying I’m not seeking their destruction. I am just seeking to get away from them and I will testify in court that they are bad people and they’re not safe to be around and if they can be put away even so much the better. We have where Jesus says for us to be as wise as a serpent and innocent as doves. The dove part is the forgiveness part. Let it go. Be innocent. We live at peace as much as possible. The wise part, as a serpen, is that whole but I’m still going to keep my eye on you, and why would a serpent be that way? Because everybody is out to kill the serpent, you know. Oh my gosh, they’re coming at me. I better… and that’s why we’re supposed to be shrewd. Just because we forgive doesn’t mean that those people become trustworthy.
They have not repented. That is their problem. They are not standing right with God. That is their problem. We have the innocence of Christ. There is nothing wrong with saying God, I ask you, it’s like in that song Fiddler on the Roof and they ask the rabbi is there any prayer we can say for the Tsar and he says yes. May the Lord bless and keep the Tsar… far away from here. In the same way we are to pray for our enemies because we don’t want them to stay in that position of being evil, of being hateful and us not being able to trust them and making everybody else’s lives miserable including ours. So, we should pray for our enemies so this evil just doesn’t continue to go on and on and on. If somebody beats you forgive it, move on, but don’t get caught alone with that person. You should testify against the murderers and the evilness that goes on so it doesn’t continue. You’re doing it also to help keep other people from harm so we need to not lie. We need to testify to the truth of all this kind of stuff. Proverbs 24:29 says, “Do not say, ‘Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work.'”
There is a place in the Bible, Romans 12 actually, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” So, he is saying,”Don’t drop down to their level, but don’t you take vengeance on them.” You let God do it. God knows the best way to even the scores, and sometimes, like I said, I know people that are so petty they are trying to get revenge on people of things that happened 12 years ago. Oh, I know this one person. Well, they didn’t speak to me. Well, where were you? I was at the county fair and they walked right by me and high-hatted me and they didn’t speak to me, I’ll show them, and I’m like how many hundred people were there? Well, they looked right at me. So? That doesn’t mean that they were looking at you going I’m going to high-hat you, you know, and they are going to try to figure out some way of getting even with that person.
God says don’t be that way. You let me take the vengeance. You let me, because I really understand what exactly happened, and a lot of times we are offended and we want to get even and He goes the offense is something in your head. It did not happen the way you perceived it. If you would have known this person over here what was going on in their head you would have realized they weren’t actually looking at you. You know, they could have just got a phone call. Hi, your mother just died and they’re just standing there going oh my, and they could be looking right at you and not recognize you. Therefore, you’re trying to get even for something this person did not do. It’s something you perceived. You let Me settle the score. You let God take care of it. Don’t rejoice, and this is the part you’re going to have to trust me on but it’s in there. Do not rejoice when God does take vengeance on somebody. When God does settle the score and it’s coming your way, don’t rejoice that your enemy has been cast down. Stand there and go oh my because but for the grace of God you don’t know who you have offended or something that you did and God could be going oh yeah? I settled this score. Do you want me to settle?
So, there I was. This person did me wrong. This is a true story. Did me wrong and I was upset and I said I’m upset God and I don’t like this, and He one day says to me, this had been going on awhile, you want me to take some vengeance and I said yes. Show no mercy. Yes. Alright, I’ll do it. I’m going to get him for you. Yes. But what you wish on them I’m going to have to use the same measuring stick on you. So, when I’m taking the vengeance out and I’m showing them no mercy when I’m done I’m going to start on you and I said wait a minute. This is a true story. Whoa, let’s stop right there. Let’s stop right there. God, I know I need mercy and I don’t like the way You take vengeance because it is so good. I mean, You are so good at it. I don’t want to be put in that position so I’ll tell you what God. Have mercy on that person and bring them around and let them see the err of their ways oh so gently. Just treat them so nice God. Okay. And from that point on it’s always struck me Doyle, before you start asking God, those are called preparatory prayers where you say, and they’re in the Psalms by the way where David says God, break my enemy’s arms. Yeah, they’re in there. So, before you get to that point of God, take vengeance on them, stop and say is He going to pay me back with the same measuring stick that I use?
Then you start putting it in perspective of He shows them no mercy, He will show you no mercy. If I don’t let it go He is not going to let it go. Forgive and He will forgive you, and that’s the whole idea of forgiveness is you’re forgiving, you’re letting go your right to take vengeance and He is going okay, you let that go, you let the right of vengeance go from you. Therefore, I will let My right of vengeance against you be set free also and I won’t hold it against you. Christ will forgive me of my sin, and even if there is something that just eats my toast every day about that person it is just a sin like any other failure, and like we talked about in this morning’s service we need to learn to say God, I’m going to trust you to ever so gently get me through this situation so that I can go on and live my life without stress, and without ulcers, and without all this hating, and bringing it up and being in constant turmoil. I ask you to forgive me of my sin and help me to let it go and move on and You deal with those people however You need to deal with them. If possible get them into heaven on the far side and bless them richly while they’re over there and keep them so busy that they’ll be there for millennial, and I will be over here in my little mud hut just as happy as a pig in slop.
A lot of people don’t realize that having forgiveness and forgiving somebody doesn’t necessitate the forgoing of anger. There are people who can have an anger against someone, righteous anger. You could have righteous anger and still forgive them. I am not going to do it, but it is wrong what happened. The Bible says be angry and sin not. Do not let the sun go down upon thy wrath. In other words, deal with it as soon as you can. There are times that we are angry. Because of the statement be angry and sin not, it’s that idea of holding onto the anger and keeping it constantly, brooding over it and all this kind of stuff and keeping the anger going. We can feel anger, anger can flare up, but that is different from forgiveness. I can forgive people and say I don’t wish them harm, but when I do see them there’s that instant oh, oh, oh. Oh, God, I’m still angry. I forgive them, I’m not going to take vengeance, but it still smokes my bacon that they’re getting away with it. But, that helped me to let go of that, and see my anger issue is different from my forgiveness issue. I have forgiven them and I’m not going to seek revenge, but the anger issue is something that’s in me. It flares up and then I’m supposed to deal with it and try to get this done before the sun sets.
So, unforgiveness is a sin just like anything else and it will not keep us out of heaven because we realize we’re sinners and we fall short even in this area, but forgiveness is actually the idea of letting go of our right to vengeance, letting go of that mean streak that we have. He will help us to do that and He will help us to deal with the anger issue also, but I think a lot of people have anger against somebody and they don’t realize that there is that slight difference in there and they need to adjust it over so that they can live their life. What I have learned, and I don’t know who spoke this to me or if I read it someplace, they said a lot of times, and this is true, God, I am so Grrr that right now all I can do is say the words “ I forgive them.” I do not mean it. I am still angry, I’m still hurt, and I would still like to do it, but I’m not going to do it so I’ve chosen, and all I can say right now is God, I forgive them and when I see them, God, I forgive them, and as we repeat this and say the things that God says to us ,“Forgive them of their sins”, then we can forgive them, and as we say it more and more it takes root in our heart and it causes us to reflect. Remember, it’s the decisions we make and we make this decision to seek God and His help to forgive us and sometimes the only thing we can do is just say the words and let Him create within our heart the true meaning of what we just said.
Shall we pray then? Father, in the name of Jesus we do thank You. Help us to find forgiveness in our heart. Help us to let things go and let the other person have to deal with the problems that they have created in their life. Give them mercy, bring them to repentance if at all possible but, Father, bless and keep them far away from us and protect us from the people that had chosen to do us wrong. Father, we want the grace of Christ in our life, and if we do them a good turn we ask that it would be used to actually cause them to see the truth of Christ and to repent so that there will be less evil in this world.