Joyce Meyer - Six Ways to Detect Unforgiveness - Part 2
Well, thank you for joining us on, "Enjoying Everyday Life". Today, I'm doing the second part of a teaching that I started yesterday called, "Six ways to detect unforgiveness". And it's about the story of the prodigal son and the elder brother. But to be honest, it's gonna be more about the elder brother than it is the prodigal son. I think we miss sometimes some of the really important things about that story in Luke 15 verses 11-32. So, just real quickly, if you're not familiar with it, two sons, the younger son told his father, "I want my part of the inheritance. I don't wanna wait". That was very rude. That was like saying, "Dad, I wish you were dead. I want my money".
So, the father divided the inheritance between the two sons. The younger son, gathered up all of his stuff, left home, wasted all of his money on just loose living. Got to the point where he was working for a pig farmer, was hungry, there was a famine in the land. He said he would have gladly eaten the same thing that pigs were eating. So, it says, "He came to himself". He got back in his right mind. You know, sometimes we kinda get so far out in our thinking that we just do stupid things and make a mess out of our life. He came to himself, and he said, "My father's hired servants are better off than I am. I'm gonna go back to my father and say, 'i don't deserve to be your son, but I would just like to have a job as a hired servant'". So, he started back to his father and his father saw him coming a long way off and he ran to him, kissed him, was so happy that he was back. Didn't give him a big, long speech about, you don't, "I'll forgive you, but I want you to realize how bad you hurt me".
And, you know, like I said yesterday, sometimes we are willing to forgive people, but we wanna let them know how great we are for forgiving them. And instead, he said to his servants, "Let's have a party. Let's celebrate. Bring out the best robe, give him a ring, give him sandals, kill the fatted and calf. We're gonna have a party". So, they were having a party. They were celebrating. The elder brother comes in from being out in the field and right away he said, "What's this music all about"? I said, "People that are unhappy don't like to be around people that are happy". They kinda irritate you. If you're unhappy and you're around somebody, that's happy, it's kinda like, "What are you so happy about"?
I remember my dad being like that. He'd be like, "What are you so happy about? What are you laughing about"? He was just an unhappy man who wanted to make everybody else around him unhappy, too. And so, the elder brother, the message is, is that you can be in the family, but not in the house. He refused to go into the party. He said, "I'm not gonna go in". Well, he was still a member of the family, but he wasn't close to what was going on. So, when I say you can be in the family, but not in the house, I mean, you can be a Christian, but not be close to God. And I was like that for a lot of years. Many Christians are like that. You know, they go to church and they know the different doctrines of being a Christian. Their names can be written in the lamb's book of life. They may go to heaven when they die, but they're not close to God. And he wants close fellowship with us.
The Bible says that one of the reasons why he sent the Holy Spirit was to be in close fellowship with us. He lives inside of us. How much closer can you get than that? And so, that's very important to me now, in my life, that I have a close, intimate relationship with God. The apostle Paul prayed: it's recorded in Philippians 3. He said, "My determined purpose is to know him and the power of his resurrection that lifts me out from among the dead, even while I'm in the body, that I might become more intimately, deeply acquainted with him". He didn't wanna just know about God, he wanted to know God. And I pray that that's the desire of your heart also. So, the elder brother was in the family, but he wouldn't go in the house, he wouldn't join the party. He refused to go in. The father pleaded with him, but he refused to go.
So, many today, are in the family of God, but not in the father's house. His house represents his presence. It represents close fellowship. When we live in the house with other people, we get very close and intimate with them. We know things about them that nobody else knows. And God knows things about you that nobody else knows, but you could know some things about him too that maybe everybody else doesn't know. You know, God's presence is so important. And a lot of times we just seek God for what he can do for us, his presents, P-R-E-S-E-N-T-S. And we need to just seek him for who he is, seek his face and not his hand. The Bible says in his presence is "Fullness of joy". Psalm 27 says, "There's protection from our enemies in the presence of God". "One thing I ask of the Lord, and that will I seek after, that I might dwell in his presence," and behold his beauty, "All the days of my life". "For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling: he will hide me in the shelter," of his presence. I love that. It also says that in God's presence, you'll be "Hidden from the strife of tongues".
You know, somebody like me, I'm in front of a lot of people and I'd love to think that everybody thinks I'm wonderful and loves me, but there may be one or two that don't. And, you know, maybe they say some unkind things about me. Well, you know, words are weapons. The Bible says, "No weapon formed against me shall prosper, but every tongue that rises up against me in judgment, I will show to be in the wrong". And I'm glad to know today that because I enjoy the presence of God that I'm protected from evil and bad things that people say about me. In Exodus 33:14, the Lord replied to Moses, "Moses said, 'who shall I say sent me'"? When God sent him to Pharaoh, "'who shall I say sent me'"? And he said, "'my presence will go with you and I will give you rest'". Well, without God's presence, there's always a sense of dissatisfaction and a feeling of, "Something is missing in my life".
Are you, maybe, like that right now? "Something is missing from my life". "I go to church, I read my Bible, a little bit, every day. I pray. I give a little bit into the offering, try to be good, but something's missing from my life". Maybe you're in the family, but not in the house. Jeremiah 2:13 says, "My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and they have dug for themselves wells that have no water in them". That means that they're into their own works, doing their own thing, wanting God to bless it. They're digging wells and coming up with all these plans about how they can get what they want, but then when they get done with all their digging, there's no water in that well. And God says, "You need to seek me". And when we seek him, he'll give us favor. "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart".
Well, what kept the elder brother out of the house? First, he was angry. There were things happening that he did not like. He wasn't in control. Now, I'm sure there's nobody watching today that loves to be in control, but I used to be that way. And I had a lot of fear in my life because of the abuse from my dad and my childhood. And I was afraid if I didn't control everything that people would hurt me and take advantage of me. Some people are just controllers, they're just manipulators. And we can't always be in control. God wants to be in control. And the elder brother was mad because he wasn't in control. He didn't want a party, nobody asked him about a party, and he was just mad. He would not adapt and adjust. And the Bible says in Romans 12 that if we wanna live in peace, we've gotta be adaptable and adjustable. I always say, "God make me adaptable and adjustable, pliable and moldable". He would not submit his feelings to his father's will and his father's wisdom. And he was jealous. He was covetous, and that's a bad heart attitude.
Exodus 20:17: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, are his male or female servant, or his ox or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor". If you're jealous of somebody, drop it, leave it, pray with God about it, talk to him about it, ask him to cleanse your heart from that. Trust God to give you what's right for you at the right time and be happy for other people that are blessed. My husband says, "Until we can be happy for other people who get what they want, we'll never get what we want".
Let me say that again. Until you can be happy for other people who get what they want, maybe even they get what you'd like to have. You'll probably never get yours until you can be happy for them. God doesn't want us coveting what other people have. He wants us to trust him, that he's doing the right thing for us at the right time in our life. What was the root of his negative emotions? Well, he had unforgiveness toward his brother and he had unforgiveness toward his father. He was mad at both of 'em. He was bitter and resented his father blessing his brother. Well, we can easily resent other people's blessings. Be on guard against resentment. Hebrews 12:15 says, "See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up and causes trouble and defiles many".
You see, when we get bitter, one of the things that we start to do is judge other people and then we start talking about 'em behind their back, we start spreading strife. And so, if you let bitterness get in your heart, it not only hurts you, but it can end up hurting a lot of people around you. And you know, when you say something bad about somebody to somebody else, it affects their opinion of that person, even if they don't wanna believe you. Not talking bad about other people is... It's challenging. It's something that we all have to work on probably all of our life. And I know better, but every once in a while I'll catch myself doing it. And we really have no right to judge anybody. Because when you judge, you set yourself up as God in someone's life, and only God has the right to judge. We don't. We can judge sin, but we can't judge a person's heart.
That's why God looks at the heart. He resented his father blessing his brother. He was self-righteous and he was proud. He felt that he deserved the blessing that his brother got. We gotta be careful thinking we deserve stuff. To be honest, what we deserve is to die and go to hell. Thankfully, Jesus took the punishment that we deserve, and instead of getting punished, we can be blessed. But we need to have the same attitude toward other people that God has toward us. And you know, if you don't need this message today, I'll be very happy to preach to myself because I need teaching like this on a regular basis. This elder brother, he had a religious spirit. What I mean by that is, is he thought everything was about outward works, but it was really more about, it's really more about what's going on inside of us. The pure in heart will see God. "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God," is what it says in Matthew 5, and what is commonly called the sermon on the mount, or the beatitudes.
And if you think about these two... See, the brother, he did a wrong thing, but then he ran back to his father in repentance, "Father, forgive me for I've sinned against you and heaven, and I don't deserve any of your blessings". Just, "I'll just be like one of your hired servants, just if I just have enough to eat". Well, the father loved his attitude. But here this elder brother who has always had everything that his father had at his disposal, he had everything, but he had a bad attitude. And so, really, our attitude is more important to God than all of our so-called good works. What does the Bible say about forgiveness? It should be a lifestyle, not just something we do occasionally.
Matthew 18:35 says, "Forgive your brother or your sister from your heart". This is how we should pray. The disciples said, "Teach us to pray," and Jesus did. It's recorded in Matthew. "Our father who is in heaven, holy is your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we also forgive those who trespass against us". Uh-oh, wait a minute. "Forgive us the same way we forgive other people"? Wow, is that what we really want? Well, that's what we get. "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don't forgive others, your Heavenly Father will not forgive you".
Wow. Well, you know, without forgiveness, we can't live in the house. We might be in the family, but we're not in the house. We can't, things have to be right between us and God. You can't have hidden sin in your heart and have a close relationship with God. You can't be hanging on to bitterness and resentment, and be angry, and resentful, and jealous. If you wanna have a close relationship with God, you gotta get all that junk cleaned out of your heart. God wants us to have pure hearts. Your faith won't work without forgiveness. I mean, forgiveness is so important, so, so important. The anointing, which I don't even know how many people today, know what the anointing is, but the anointing is God's presence and power on your life.
You know, you can have two Bible teachers, one that's anointed and one that's not, and they can preach the exact same message word for word, but the one that's not anointed won't really affect the lives of the hearers. The one that's anointed, the words that he speaks, or she speaks, will go right past your brain, down into your heart, and it'll break bondages off of your life. I covet God's anointing. I want that more than anything, and I know that I have to have a pure heart if I wanna have that. And so, that's something that I work toward in my life. Psalm 133 says "How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity," and harmony. What's your house like? Is it full of strife? Who are you mad at in your family? Mm... That unity "Is like precious oil poured on the head running down Aaron's beard down to the collar of his robe".
Well, that was what they did when they anointed people. They poured oil on their head. So, he's saying that unity is like the anointing. It ushers in the anointing and bestows blessings forevermore. Six ways to determine whether or not we have unforgiveness. And I wanna say again what I said yesterday. I think sometimes we have unforgiveness for so long that we don't even really realize that it's there anymore. I remember one time the pastor at my church, this has been almost 40 years ago, he said, "Today, I'm gonna teach on unforgiveness". And I thought, "Oh, I don't have unforgiveness against anybody". And I heard the Lord speak to my heart, say, "Yes, you do".
And I honestly couldn't think of anybody. But while the pastor was preaching, I thought of, it wasn't even somebody that had done anything to me. It was a girl that my daughter went to school with that mistreated her, and I was mad at that girl for mistreating my daughter. And what I should have been doing is praying for her. God wants us to pray for people when they do things, they shouldn't do. Somebody's gotta pray so God can work. And we need to do a lot more praying for people when they hurt us. "Father forgive them for they know not what they do". That's what Jesus said on the cross. Father forgive them for they know not what they do. That's what Stephen said while he was being stoned, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do".
When nobody stood with Paul at his first trial, everybody deserted him. Imagine that. He said, "Father, I pray that you will not lay this sin to their charge". Oh my. What a good heart. I want a heart like that, don't you? I wanna be gentle and tender and kind to people and merciful. God is so merciful. My goodness, if he wasn't merciful, we'd be destroyed every day. Well, here's six ways that you can determine if you have unforgiveness. This is some of the nature of unforgiveness. Unforgiveness always keeps score. The elder brother said, "These many years I have served you," when he gave his speech to his father. "These many years I have served you," that's in Luke 15:29, "But he answered his father, 'look, all these years, I've been slaving for you and I've never disobeyed your orders'". Well, I kinda doubt that. So, he thought more highly of himself than he should have. "And you never even gave me a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends".
You know, his father said to him, "'son, you've been with me always. Everything that I have is yours'". In other words, this boy could have had anything he wanted, anytime he wanted it. But he just was keeping score. "I've done this for you. I've done that for you. I've done this for you". And then he said, "But this son of yours", he wouldn't even claim him as a brother, "He went out and wasted his money with prostitutes and loose from restraint living. And now he comes back, and you give him a big party". Well, he didn't like that. He didn't understand that. You know, you should not get angry when God blesses people that you think don't deserve it. Because you know what? What God does for other people is really none of our business. We need to just say, "God, your will be done and not mine".
Peter said to Jesus in Matthew 18:21-22: "Peter came to Jesus and said, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Seven'"? See, he was counting, too. He was keeping score. "How many times do I have to forgive him"? I remember when I was like that in the early days in mine and dave's marriage, if we had an argument, and I would apologize, the next time we had an argument, I felt like it was his turn to apologize. And I was not gonna apologize because I apologized the last time. And God had to teach me there's no place in the Bible where it says, "Take turns".
I'll be honest with you, if you're the only one that ever apologizes, and if you're the first one to apologize, then, as far as I'm concerned, you're the one that's more spiritual. We need to do what God is asking us to do no matter what somebody else does, and we need to do it quick. Oh man, our thinking, it gets us in trouble. This elder brother, his thinking was all messed up. You know, I'm just wondering as I talk to you today, and I feel like I'm talking to some people right now, do you have a sibling, a sister, or a brother that you've been mad at for a long time? Maybe you haven't even spoken to in five years or ten years.
I know my dad was like that even with people in the family. If somebody in the family did something to him that he didn't like, he wouldn't talk to 'em for years, and years, and years. There was one of my mother's sisters that he didn't like, and he would never talk to her. How sad is that? That we can't forgive people, but we expect God to forgive us. If you have a sibling, that you have that kind of an attitude toward, I'm gonna ask you to be really strong in God, pray through forgiving them, and then pick up the phone and call 'em, and be the bigger person and say, "I'm sorry, let's get our relationship straightened out. God doesn't want us to be mad at each other". And get things right in your family.
If there's anybody that you have ought against, get it straightened out and don't waste any time. "Jesus answered, 'i tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven". And really seven is God's perfect number. So, what he was saying really is, you just keep forgiving, and keep forgiving, and keep forgiving. You know what? Aren't you glad that God doesn't put any limit on his forgiveness? Aren't you glad that he doesn't say, "I'll forgive you three times for the same thing, but after that, nope, no more". This is an important word today.