Joyce Meyer - Forgiveness - Part 2
Well, thank you for joining us on, "Enjoying Everyday Life". And you know, what I'm teaching on right now, is something that you can't really enjoy your life and keep it and that's unforgiveness. I'm talking about the power that, I mean, the absolute beautiful power of being able and willing to forgive the people who hurt you. Yesterday, on the program, we showed you a big sack of potatoes that represented a burden that we carry with us, if we carry bitterness and resentment against other people. So, we got to the point in this message where we were talking about why should you forgive, why? It's not a very fair thing for God ask us to do is it? Well, we ask him to forgive us, is that fair? Was it fair for Jesus to pay the price for mine and your sins to take the punishment that we deserved? No, that wasn't fair. But it was what God wanted, so that made it the right thing.
So, why should we forgive? Well, number one reason is God said to. You know, if we could live with more of an attitude, "If God said it, do it". We don't always have to know why, we don't have to understand it. We just need to be willing to obey him. And you know, if you have children, you went through this with your kids. You got so tired of hearing them say, "Why, why, why"? And you're just like, "Because I said so. Just trust me and do it because I said so". And so, God's the same way with us, he doesn't have to explain himself all the time. He just wants us to trust him that he's good, and that he's wise, and that he's all loving. And everything that God asks us to do is for our benefit.
The second reason that you wanna forgive is your faith won't work if you don't. We read that in Mark 11, "Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, leave it, drop it, let it go so that your Heavenly Father can forgive you your sins". Galatians 5:6 is a great scripture, it says, "For [if we are] in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision or uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith activated and energized and expressed and working through love". So, faith can only work through love. I can't go to God with a heart full of hatred and bitterness and all kinds of ugly things in there and expect my faith to I have any power. But if I go to him walking in love and I ask him to do things for me, then he can hear and answer those prayers. Faith is not energized by anger, resentment, unforgiveness, offense, or bitterness. Now, you know, to be honest, some people have a harder time forgiving than others do.
You know, at one time in my life, I'm sure I had a very hard time with it, but it's become quite easy for me now because I really, I get it. I totally understand that when I forgive people that I'm doing myself a favor. Who wants to carry that around with them all day? It's hard work to hate somebody. I don't wanna put my energies into that. I wanna enjoy my life and I think you wanna enjoy yours, too. And on top of that, I don't want to open the door for Satan to be able to work in my life. Paul wrote to the Corinthians and he said, "Forgive in order that Satan might not out wit you, for we are not unaware of his schemes". Forgive so that you give the devil no opportunity to get in to your life. If somebody's hurt you recently, and God's been dealing with you about forgiving them and you're still hanging on to it, hanging on to it, hanging on to it, you better be careful because you may be opening a door for the enemy to work in your life and you don't want that. Trust me, we want what God has to give us not what the enemy has to give us.
Ephesians 4:26 and 27, it says, "In your anger do not sin". Now, I like that. How can I be angry and not sin? Here's the key: just because you feel angry doesn't mean you can't control it. And you know, can even say to God, "I feel so angry God but I'm choosing to let this go". Now, that doesn't mean your feelings are gonna change right away. Matter of fact, they might not change for a while. But if you choose to do what God tells you to do, your feelings will always catch up with your choice. You can't maybe, help how you feel, but you can choose what to do. So, we can choose to forgive somebody, to let the sin go, even though you're angry, you can do it and not sin. "Don't let the sun go down while you're still angry".
Well, I always kind of tease and say, in the earlier years of our marriage when I had a worst temper, and if I got mad, I was really glad if it was in the morning, not close to bedtime, 'cause it gave me a longer time to get over it. Don't let the sun go down on your anger. You know why? Whatever you go to bed with is what you're gonna wake up with. Whatever kind of a... If you take anger to bed with you, you're gonna wake up with it and probably you'll wake up in the middle of the night several times, and there it will be. "Don't give the devil any kind of a foothold". Satan has enough power on his own, we don't need to give him anymore. Unforgiveness puts a heavy weight on your spirit and it weakens you. It makes everything in your life bitter and hard. It becomes that heavy burden.
Proverbs 16:32 says, "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty". Wow, I love that. People who have quick, bad tempers don't have any spiritual strength. And we need spiritual strength much more than we need physical strength, and we all know how much we need physical strength, but we need spiritual strength more. We need spiritual power when we go to God with our prayers. Proverbs 14:30 says, "A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, wrath," which is anger, "Are like rottenness to the bones".
Come on, I mean, if we look at these things, it's like, "Who wants that"? I don't want that. I love the fact that God has given us the power of choice. I can stay angry if I want to, I can hate somebody for the rest of my life, but I don't have to if I don't want to either. Any time we choose to do what's right, God will always help us do it. "A cheerful heart is good medicine". But when we're filled with unforgiveness, we're not happy. And to be honest, I think if you're full of enough bitterness it can even make you sick. I really believe that, I think that we can actually put so much pressure, the stress of unforgiveness can actually make you sick.
Here's another reason to forgive: it grieves the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit lives on the inside of you, as a believer, and he is so precious and wonderful, he's our comforter, our helper, our teacher, our guide. He deals with us in such a gentle and amazing way. And we should not grieve him, we should not make him sad. Ephesians 4:30 and 31 say, "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander along with every form of malice". You know, unforgiveness also hinders our worship.
There's a scripture that, in Matthew 5:23 and 24, it says, "Therefore, if you're offering your gift at the altar", and there you go, "Therefore, if you're offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. And go and be reconciled to them: then come back and offer your gift". Now, this is taking it to a whole 'nother level. This is not saying, "If you have something against somebody you go make it right," it's saying, "If you remembered they have something against you, go make it right". So, could that possibly mean that maybe, even though it might have been their fault that we should still go and humble ourselves, and say, "I wanna make peace". I always like to say, "The person who's willing to make peace first, is the one who is the most spiritually mature".
You know, if you're in relationship with somebody and you feel like that they never apologize, that you're always the one who apologizes and has to make peace, don't feel sorry for yourself because of that. If you're willing to do it and they're not, then you're more spiritually mature than they are. God forgives, and we need to learn how to forgive and do it quickly. The Bible also says, "We reap what we sow". So, the same way we treat other people is the way that we will be treated. Matthew 7:1-5, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you". Now, here we go. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust", how tiny is that? "In your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank it's in your own eye"?
So, gotta use an example. If I've got this coming out of my eye and I'm trying to take this out of your eye, how silly is that? And that's really the way it is. It's amazing how merciful we can be to ourselves, and all the excuses we can make for ourselves, but how unmerciful we can be to other people. "How can you say to your brother, 'let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye'"? One translation says, "A telephone pole in your own eye". "'you hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye,'" and that's another whole teaching in itself. It's like, if I've got this huge thing in my eye, how can I possibly see clearly how to help you get the little tiny speck out of your eye. "So in everything", Matthew 7:12, "In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you".
Can I ask you a question today? Do you want people to forgive you when you hurt them? Of course we do. I do. I hurt people sometimes and I don't mean to, it's not what I intend to do. But even, if I just had a really rotten, stinky day, and was just being mean all day, and I hurt somebody and did it on purpose, I would still like to be able to go to them and receive their forgiveness when I come to my senses. We cannot have good relationships if we're not willing to forgive. There are no perfect people. There's no perfect jobs, no perfect bosses, no perfect spouses. God has given us the ability to forgive to make up for those imperfections. But if you refuse to forgive, you know what you'll end up being? You'll end up being lonely and tormented.
Now, what about ways to recognize unforgiveness? Somebody said to me this morning, I told 'em what I'd be teaching on here in the studio, and they said, "You know, sometimes I think we have unforgiveness and we don't even realize that we do," and I agree with that. I remember sitting in a church service one time, the pastor said he was gonna teach on unforgiveness, and in my haughtiness and pride, I thought, "Well, I won't need this because there's nobody I'm mad at". And I heard the Lord speak in my heart, "Yes, there is," and I had no idea who. And then, he showed me that I was angry with a friend of my daughter's because I didn't think that friend treated my daughter, right. And my daughter wasn't really doing anything about it, which she was the one that needed to. But I was mad at that girl because I didn't like the way she was treating my daughter.
Well, you say, "Well, I don't blame you. You're a mom, that's what moms do". But you know something, I could have made a lot more progress if I would have prayed for the girl. See, we don't do any good by being angry at people, by hating 'em, but we can help people by praying for them. Now, there is a story in Luke 15 that is so powerful. It's about the prodigal son and the elder brother. And to be honest, it's just as much about the elder brother as it is the prodigal son but we usually only talk about it from the standpoint of the prodigal son. And, if I just read you little parts of this, I think you'll get this pretty quick. The young man went to his father and he said, "Give me my part of the inheritance". Well, first of all, in those days to say to your father, "Give me my inheritance," while he's still alive is like saying, "I wish you were dead".
So, well, right away he already gave the father enough to be really angry with him. But instead the father just gave him his inheritance. And the young man went out and he wasted the entire thing. Used it on prostitutes, and drinking, and probably gambling, and all kinds of stuff. And when it was all gone, nothing was left, he wasted it all, he had no choice but to go to work for a pig farmer. Nobody would hire him, give him work except this pig farmer. So, he worked for him for a while and then things got so bad in the economy that there was not even anything for him to eat unless he ate the same thing that the pigs were eating. So, here this young man went from living on a lovely estate with a father who loved him, having a family, having a wonderful life, I'm sure, to eating with the pigs. But I love what the Bible says, it says that he came to himself, and I'm hoping that some of you today are having that revelation.
You're coming, you're like, "Oh, wow. What have I been doing"? Because this thing about unforgiveness is a lot bigger problem than we like to think that it is. And so, he said, "I know what I'll do. I'm going to go to my father. And I'm gonna say, 'i don't deserve to be anything other than your servant but I would be happy to be a servant in your house if you would just forgive me'". So, he went with a repentant heart. And the Bible says that when the son was still yet a long way off the father saw him coming and he ran to him, which there's another point about that, that's beautiful because in those days elderly men did not run. It was considered disrespectful for them to run. But this father was so thrilled about his son coming home that he didn't care how he looked or what anybody thought, he ran to him and he kissed him.
Now, I just wanna take this opportunity to say to you today that if you've wandered away from God or if you've never known Christ as your Savior, if you would just have a repentant heart and you'll turn toward the Lord, he will run to you, right now, and meet you and heal your life. And there's a number on your screen that you can call if you want somebody to pray with you about salvation, if you're ready to surrender your life to Christ, we'd be more than happy to pray with you and put some free material in your hands to help you get started in your new life with Christ. Remember, if you turn toward God, he'll run to you and bring healing into your life. He wants to forgive you. And he's gonna want you to forgive people who have hurt you too. But that's the beginning of a brand-new life.
Well, the thing that's interesting is the father said, "Kill the fatted calf. Let's have a party. This son of mine was dead and now he's alive. He was lost but now, he's found". And so, the elder brother had been out in the field and he didn't know anything about what was going on and he heard the music, and he went to one of the brothers and said, "What's this"? See, you can hear the attitude. "What's this? What's going on"? And he said, "Oh, your brother's returned and your father has killed the fatted calf". And he also, had given the boy a beautiful robe, and he'd put a ring on his finger, and he was just really treating him good. Well, the elder brother didn't like any of that. He was mad. He had a lot of things against his younger brother that he had never dealt with.
You see, that's why I say the main story in this parable is about the elder brother. Yes, it is about the prodigal and how we can come back home to God. But so often, we miss the part about the elder brother, who had all this bitterness, and resentment, and unforgiveness in his heart and that was much worse than what the younger brother had done by wanting his inheritance and leaving home. That was just the foolishness of a young man. But this older brother, the elder brother, he should have had more sense by the time he got to the age that he was at, than to feel the way he did about his brother. Well, how can you recognize that he had unforgiveness? The Bible doesn't say he did. But here's just a few pointers. First of all, unforgiveness always keeps score.
In Luke 15:29, "He answered his father, 'look! These many years I have served you, and I have never disobeyed your command. And you never gave me [so much as] a [little] goat, that I might revel and feast and make merry with my friends'". See, he's counting everything up, "All these years, year after year, and I've never disobeyed you and you never did anything for me". Believe me, he was keeping record, he was keeping score. Peter wanted to know how many times must I forgive my brother. We don't need to keep score. When you forgive somebody that means that it's gone. You can't go back and get it out of the closet and resurrect it whenever you need to use it against somebody. "Love takes no account of the evil done to it," the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13. I love that. "It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs".
Let me ask you a question. Are you a good record keeper? Are you a good accountant? You know, it's so wonderful to know that at some time you were angry with somebody and you look back and you really can't even remember what it was you were angry about. Boy, I used to be such a good record keeper. And you know, probably now, if I got mad at Dave last week, this week, I couldn't even tell you what I was mad about, what I was angry about. And that's wonderful. Like I said, I think yesterday, the quicker you forgive the easier it is to do it. And unforgiveness always complains. "You never did anything for me". "You never let me have a party".
Well, he was ready to rehearse to his father, everything is father never did for him, but I don't see him giving any thanks for everything that he did do for him. And even the people that you might be angry at, is it possible that it's somebody that has done a lot for you, and you're failing to be thankful for what they have done, but now, they've done one thing that hurt you or made you angry and that's the thing that you're focusing on. Whatever you focus on becomes the bigger thing in your life. How 'bout focusing on what God has done for you instead of what he hasn't done for you yet. The more thankful, you are right now, the more God will be willing to give to you. But if you're already complaining about what you have, why should he bother to give you anything else, or me? Not just you, this is, I'm preaching this message to me today, just as much as I am to you. "These many years. I've served you. You never did anything for me. You never gave me anything".
Matthew 15:29, "Look! These many years I've served you. I never disobeyed you". Well, I'm sure he did but he probably didn't see it. And you never did anything for me. You know, you notice the elder brother was mad about the party. You know, elder brother types don't like parties. Well, you know what? The father begged the boy to come in, but he didn't stop the party because he didn't like it. And I like to say that God likes a good party. He wants us to be happy. He wants us to enjoy our lives. And just because somebody doesn't like it doesn't mean he's gonna stop the party. So, you can either drop your burden of bitterness and resentment, and go ahead and come to God's party, or you can stay outside and watch everybody else enjoy their life, and that may be what some of you're doing. You may be on the outside looking in at people whose lives seem to be better than yours, but maybe you're not willing to do what they did to get the life that they had.