Joel Osteen - Let It Go
I want to talk to you today about Let It Go. We all go through disappointments things that are not fair. It's easy to hold on to the hurts, think about what they said, re-live the offense. We get up in the morning, it's the first thing that comes to mind. We don't realize how much that's affecting us, souring our attitude, draining our energy, limiting our creativity. If you're going to fulfill your destiny, you have to get good at letting things go. Jesus said (Luke 17:1), "...offenses will come". He didn't say, "They might come. If you're a good person, if you're kind, nobody will do you wrong". He said, "Disappointments will come. Betrayals, things that are not fair will come". How you deal with these offenses, how you handle the hurts, will determine whether you move forward, and see the new things God has in store or whether you get stuck, bitter over what didn't work out.
I've heard it said, "If you don't heal from emotional wounds, you'll bleed on people that had nothing to do with it". How many people are living wounded over how they were raised, or a friend that walked away, a business partner that cheated them? Instead of letting it go, they replay it in their mind, re-live all the hurt. They wonder why they don't have good relationships? It's because they haven't healed, they're living out of a wounded place. God brings a new person, somebody great, but they're so insecure, they don't feel valuable, attractive. This new person has to keep them fixed, go overboard to make sure they know how great they are. The problem is: that's not sustainable. Until you get well, until you let go of what didn't work out, not carry the hurt, then that wound will hinder you wherever you go.
If you're still wounded over the position you lost, you'll go to that new company defensive, on edge, not friendly. You're treating them based on what you've been through, but they had nothing to do with it. It's much more freeing when you learn to let things go. Wasn't fair, that's okay, God will be your vindicator. He'll take care of who did you wrong. It's not your job to pay them back. They hurt you once, don't let them continue to hurt you by holding on to it. You've lost a loved one, Danny, I know that's painful. It's okay to go through a season of mourning, but you can't hold on to the hurt. Living in mourning is going to keep the new doors from opening. You have to heal so you can see new relationships, new opportunities.
In the scripture Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive someone that did him wrong. It's funny, because Peter was known to be offensive. He's the one that cursed the young lady out when Jesus was arrested, he cut off a soldier's ear defending Jesus. He said, "Jesus, should I forgive them seven times"? The Jewish law said three times, he more than doubled it. He thought, "I'm growing, Jesus, I've come a long way". Jesus said, "Peter, seven is good, but I want you to forgive them 70 times seven". It wasn't really about the number. Jesus was showing us a principle. He was saying, "I want you to live in a continual process of forgiveness. Not something you do every once in a while, but on a daily basis forgiveness should be a part of our life". He was setting a system in place, so we wouldn't hold on to the hurts, offenses, disappointments. He knew that practically every day we would have these opportunities. The quicker you let things go the easier it is.
In the Lord's prayer, Jesus told us to pray "Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive others". He was saying every day we should be ready to forgive. It doesn't have to be big things, that men that cut you off in traffic, let it go. Don't let that sour your day. Your time is too valuable. That's a distraction to try to get you off course, offended over something that doesn't matter. That clerk that's rude to you at the grocery store, just smile and move on. I've learned: life is full of wounded people, people that haven't dealt with the negative things in their past. At times they'll be disrespectful, they'll say things they shouldn't, do things that are hurtful. You can't stop the offense from coming, but you can keep it from getting down in you. How much time are you spending offended, bitter, holding a garage? How much more could you accomplish if you'd start letting it go? How much better would your relationships be if you would get emotionally healthy, if you let go of what people said, forgive the person that did you wrong, quit re-living those hurts?
This is where David in the scripture excelled. He was an expert at letting things go. As a teenager his father didn't really believe in him, he looked down on David, didn't affirm him. When the prophet Samuel came to his father's house to choose one of the sons as the next king of Israel, his father didn't call David in from the shepherds fields. He thought he was too small, too young, not that talented, didn't give him a chance. It was only after Samuel didn't choose one of the other seven sons, that David was called in. David could have lived bitter, with the chip on his shoulder. He felt the sting of rejection from his own family. His brothers made fun of him. When David took lunch to his brothers out on the battlefield, his oldest brother, in front of all the soldiers tried to belittle him. He said, "David, what are you doing here? What did you do with those few sheep you're supposed to be taken care of"? He was condescending, sarcastic. David could have been upset, offended, angry, but the scripture says (1 Samuel 17:30), "David turned and walked away". He knew the importance of letting things go.
Had David not done this he would have never seen Goliath. Had he stayed there, tried to straighten out his brother, we wouldn't be talking about him. The truth is: his father wasn't fair, it wasn't right to leave him out in the fields. His brothers were demeaning, belittling. But you can't make people do what's right, it's a test: are you going to hold on to the offense, let the betrayal what they said, how they treated you caused you to be sour, angry, wake up thinking about it? Or are you going to let it go and move forward into your destiny?
There is a Goliath waiting for you, a new level past the offense, pass the rejection, past what they said. My prayer is that we will do like David and live with this perpetual forgiveness, that we will develop a habit of forgiving daily. When offenses come, they bounce off of us like water off of a duck's back. Family member doesn't believe in you, that's unfortunate, but it's not going to keep you from doing great things. Co-worker tries to make you look bad, embarrass you, most people would be upset, start a conflict, pay them back, but you're a David, you recognize that's a distraction. You let it go, knowing that God will take care of your enemies.
One way God vindicates you is he promotes you in the presence of your enemies. He doesn't do it in private, but in public, so that those that left you out, discounted you, tried to make you feel small, they will see you promoted, honored, in a position of greater influence. When David defeated Goliath, the whole army was in awe. The city was cheering, even the Philistines, the opponents couldn't believe what David had done. God knows how to lift you up when people are trying to push you down. Don't let that offense in, start letting things go quickly. Don't think about it a week, and then you'll do it. You won't have to get over so many emotional wounds, if you don't let the offense in in the first place. If David would have woke up each morning, thought about how his father mistreated him, "Why did he leave me out", how his brothers were demeaning, that bitterness, anger, self-pity would have stopped his destiny.
When the offense comes up, don't go there. Keep your mind on the positive, think on things that are good, wholesome, uplifting. It's not doing anything productive to think about something negative that was said about you, re-live how that person walked away, rehearse all the pain, go over all the sorrow - that's going to keep you from healing. Let it go, that's in the past. God saw what happened, he heard what they said, he knows what you lost. If you'll let it go, he'll make it up to you. He'll give you beauty for those ashes.
A friend of mine grew up in a single-parent home. At five years old his father walked out of his life, wouldn't have anything to do with him. As a little boy he longed to see his dad, but he wouldn't return the mother's call. In his teens he would send letters to his father: happy birthday, or happy birthday and a happy father's day card, birthday card, father's day's card, but his he wanted his father's approval so badly, just to know that he cared, but he never heard a word. He felt the rejection, thoughts told him that he wasn't good enough, that there was something wrong with him. But he didn't go there. He didn't let the bitterness in. He said like the Psalmist (Psalm 27:10), "Even if my mother and father forsake me, God will adopt me as his very own child". When you live in a state of perpetual forgiveness, it's amazing how despite the injustice, despite how unfair it is, you'll still be happy, you'll still enjoy life, you'll still do great things.
When he was in his 30s, his father finally agreed to see him. He was so excited, it was a dream come true. He flew to another city, knocked on the door, a lady answered and said, "I'm sorry your father has changed his mind, he's not going to see you". I thought he would be devastated. He said, "Joel, it didn't really bother me. I had already prepared. If he wouldn't see me, I was going to let it go and move on". It has not stopped this young man, he has four beautiful children, he's happily married, very successful. I would have never known he didn't have an amazing childhood. When you learn to let things go, disappointments can't stop you, unfair people, how you were raised, bad breaks, you will keep rising higher seeing the goodness of God.
But I've met other people, I'm sure you have, that have been through things like my friend. They're bitter, angry, chip on their shoulder, stuck in life. What's the difference? They hold on to everything. You can't stop it from coming, but you can keep the poison from getting on the inside. When you bury negative emotions, they never die. You can't bottle up the anger, the hurt, the betrayal and think that's not going to affect you. "Well, Joel, I can't forgive them. You don't know what they did. I can't let it go, they hurt me too badly". You're not doing it for their sake, you're doing it for your sake. That poison is contaminating your life. When you release it, you'll step into new levels of freedom, joy, and victory.
There was a professional boxer back in the 1990s. And he was known for his aggressiveness in the ring. He fought with such anger and viciousness, almost like he was out of control. For years he was the middleweight champion of the world, very successful. After one fight, a reporter asked him: why he fought with such aggression? How he could be that driven? The reporter was expecting a standard answer, "I'm just really competitive. I love to box". But he told the reason he fought with such anger, such hostility, was because his father was abusive. He mistreated his mother, fought with her, their home was very violent. He told this son how he would never amount to anything. 10 years old the father abandoned the family, never saw him again. He said, "When I step in the ring, I picture my father's face on my opponent. I have so much hatred toward him, I just explode".
I thought about the difference between my friend and this boxer: both had betrayals, both had rejection, but one is living healthy, great children, being blessed, the other is angry, violent, bitter. The difference is: one learned to let things go, the others chose to hold on. Yes, the boxer had success on the outside, but if you're poisoned on the inside it's going to spoil every victory. Is there something you need to let go of: bitterness, anger, how someone treated you, what didn't work out? Don't do like him and let that poison you the rest of your life. Wasn't right what they did, but you're forgiving so you can be free. You're letting it go so you can see the beauty for ashes.
Years ago there was this toxic waste that needed to be discarded, but nobody knew what to do with it. They'd never had to get rid of something this dangerous and this toxic. After studying it, getting different opinions, a company built these big metal containers like you see on a ship, they put the toxic waste in it. They went to great lengths to make sure it was sealed very tightly and wouldn't get out, then they buried these containers deep in the ground. They were so relieved that they finally got rid of it. They thought they were done, but 40 years later the containers started leaking, it was contaminating the soil, the water, the air, people had to move away. The problem was: the waste was too toxic to bury.
There are some things you can't bury: you can't bury anger and think it's not going to affect you. You can't bury bitterness and not have it leak out. You can't bury hatred, rejection, that's too toxic. That poison at some point will not just contaminate your dreams, your attitude, your vision, but it will affect the people around you. Best thing you can do is to get that toxic waste out of you, let it go. How do you do it? You give it to God. "God, I forgive them for what they did, I let go of the hurts. What I lost, what I didn't get, I trust that you will make it up to me".
This company never dreamed years later they would be dealing with the same problem, but even this time it would be worse. If they would have disposed of it properly the first time, they wouldn't have this difficulty. When you bury negative feelings, they never die. Like that toxic waste, they're going to resurface through your attitude, through your relationships. The good news: it's not too late to do something about it. You don't have to live with contamination on the inside, let it go, forgive the person that hurts you, forgive the parent for what they didn't give you. Let go of the disappointment, the dream that didn't work out. How about letting go of the guilt, the shame, the regret, the remorse? You can't keep that bottled up and reach your potential.
David went to the palace to work as one of king Saul's armor bearers. Saul was proud of David, he loved him like a son, but over time Saul became jealous of David. He could see the anointing and favor on David's life. Instead of being happy for him, he wanted to get rid of David. While David was playing the harp for Saul, trying to make Saul feel better, Saul through a spear at David and barely missed him, David had to flee for his life. He had done nothing but good for Saul, honored him, served him, but in return Saul tried to kill him. David spent months living on the run, hiding in caves, with Saul and his men chasing after him. At one point David could have killed Saul. He snuck up on Saul while he was sleeping, but he wouldn't harm him. Despite David being good to Saul, Saul never changed his mind. He wouldn't have David back in the palace.
Several years later Saul was killed in a battle, David was made king. When David heard that Saul was gone, you would think he would be so happy, so relieved, finally this man that made his life miserable, caused him this heartache, where he couldn't pursue his dreams was no longer there. Surely David would call his men together, have a big party. But the scripture says, David wept when he learned Saul was killed. He wrote a song honoring him, saying (2 Samuel 1:23), "How beloved and how gracious was Saul". No wonder David rose so high. He learned to let things go. Can you imagine writing a song about your biggest enemy, the one that tried to keep you down about how beloved they are? A key to David's success is: he didn't let the toxins get on the inside. He didn't bury the things that weren't fair, the anger, the hurt, the injustice - he turned it over to God.
Even years later he was sitting in the palace, the greatest leader of that day and probably our day, having conquered all kinds of territory, seen God's favor in great ways. He said to his staff (2 Samuel 9:1), "Is there anyone alive from the house of Saul that I can bless"? He still had no bitterness towards Saul, he's still being good to a man that wasn't good to him. Who knows where God will take you if you'll just let things go? When you have every right to be bitter, angry, hold on to the hurt, they left you, you lost someone valuable. I'm not saying it's easy, but it's more difficult to deal with the toxins on the inside, than it is to let things go. It's not always easy to forgive, but it's harder to deal with the poison of unforgiveness. It's not easy to move forward after a disappointment, but it's harder to stay stuck in defeat and mediocrity.
Coach Rudy Tomjanovich was the hall of fame basketball coach of the Houston Rockets. He was also a great professional player as well. When he was 25 years old, in the middle of a game, a fight broke out between two players. Rudy ran over to break them up. One of the players turned and threw a punch without looking as hard as he could. It just so happened, Rudy was running up full speed, the punch hit him square in the face. It became known as the punch heard around the world. It fractured his skull, broke his nose, his cheek bones, he had spinal fluid leaking out, it almost took his life. Months later while he was recovering, he was asked about this player that hit him, and what he thought about it, and everyone was waiting his response. Surely he would be angry, bitter, this is not right. Rudy didn't miss a beat. He told how he had already forgiven him, that he wasn't angry or upset. The reporters were puzzled. They said, "This man almost ended your life. He put you through all this pain. How could you possibly forgive him"? Rudy said, "I knew the only way I could move forward was to let it go. I didn't forgive just for his sake, I did it so that I could be free".
Maybe you two have had some bad breaks, weren't treated right, wasn't fair. I'm not asking you to do the other person a favor, I'm asking you to do yourself a favor. Forgive so you can be free, forgive so you can reach your potential, forgive so you can see the beauty for ashes. Don't bury the toxins, don't bury what they did, those negative feelings are alive. They can't be contained, you have to give it to God. Trust him to make it up to you. You weren't created to live with poisons, weighing you down, contaminating your vision. You will rise so much higher if you'll get free from that.
David had another great disappointment: his newborn baby became very sick. He went home and fasted and prayed, asked God to heal his child. For seven days he wouldn't eat, he didn't see anyone, he was consumed with his baby, believing that God would give him a miracle. Unfortunately, the baby died. His men were so concerned that when they told David he might fall apart, they didn't know what to do. David overheard them talking about it, and asked him what was wrong? When he found out that the baby had died, he got up off the floor. The scripture says, he went home, washed his face, put on new clothes, then he went to the table and ate a meal. His men were so surprised. They said, "David when the baby was alive you were distraught, but now that the baby is gone you seem like you're fine". David said (2 Samuel 12:23), "I cannot bring the baby back, but one day I can go to be where he is".
David could have been bitter, "God, why didn't you answer my prayer? I served you, I did the right thing when Saul was chasing me, I've tried to honor you, now this happens"? No, David knew to let it go. "I don't understand, it it wasn't fair, but God you're still on the throne, I know you still have good things in store for me". There's a lot in life we're not going to understand. You can't get caught up in the wise. Part of faith is trusting when it doesn't make sense. A year later David's wife had another baby, they named him Solomon. He became the king after David, the heir to the throne, and the wisest man that ever lived. Had David stayed in despair, had he not washed his face, let go of the disappointment, he would have never seen the king that was coming. In difficult times when you don't understand, you could be bitter, if you'll just let it go and keep trusting God, like David you'll give birth to a king, something greater than what you've imagined, something to where you don't think about what you've lost.
I heard a story about this eagle: it swooped down and picked up a mole off the ground, grabbed it with its tailings, and it held it close to its chest. This was unusual, because an eagle wouldn't normally pick up a mole, they eat fish and other things. As the eagle was flying, holding this mole so close, it began to get tired, started getting weaker, flew lower and lower, finally had to land. On the ground the eagle lost all of its strength, fell over and died. The little mole scurried away unharmed, very puzzling. A veterinarian discovered that the mole had very subtly bit into the eagle's chest. The eagle couldn't feel it, but it punctured the eagle's heart and caused it to lose blood pressure, and eventually pass.
Are you holding on to something that you don't realize is killing you: anger, bitterness, guilt, shame? That's draining the life out of you, that's taking your joy, your peace, your creativity. How much higher could you fly? How much further could you go, if you got rid of these things that you're not supposed to be carrying? Today can be a turning point. You know what's more powerful than negative emotions? A decision. When you let it go, when you wash your face, when you say like Rudy t., "I forgive", then you are moving toward the king that's in your future. Now, you may have buried some toxins, you may be carrying some things that you shouldn't - that's okay, you can release them right now. This is your time to be free. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: you're about to soar to new heights, new doors are about to open, new friendships, healing, restorations, breakthroughs, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen today? Amen.