Joyce Meyer - Finding Peace Through Forgiveness
Well, thank you for joining us today for, "Enjoying everyday life". You know, there's so many decisions that we make that prevent us from enjoying life. And only we can make the opposite decisions if we really want to enjoy our lives. And the Bible says that, "Jesus came that we might have and enjoy our lives and have it to the full," and I think we need to get about enjoying life and that doesn't mean living on vacation all the time. It just means to slow down enough to actually, even realize what you're doing and learn how to enjoy every day that God gives you.
One of the things that will keep you from enjoying anything, is if you have bitterness, resentment, or unforgiveness in your heart. We're all in danger of letting satan deceive us into holding on to things that are poisoning our system, when we really need to let them go. And you know, somebody mentioned this to me the other day. It's like, sometimes, you're not even angry because somebody's hurting you, you're angry because they're hurting somebody you love. And sometimes, that gets really useless because that other person is the one that has to stand up for themselves, and if they don't do that, then the problem will just continue.
So, I think, when we think about forgiveness, we always think about, "Well, why should I do that for you"? Or you know, we act like it's a gift we're giving somebody else, but really, if you can learn that everything that God asks us to do is for our benefit. If you can learn that and believe that, then to be honest, obeying God becomes a lot simpler. Instead of having the attitude, "Well, this is hard. I'm gonna have to sacrifice. This is just too much". God only has your best interest in mind.
Now, I wanna say it again. Every command in the Word of God, every suggestion in the Word of God is something that if you obey it, it will help you and benefit you in your life. So, when God tells us to forgive, and to forgive quickly, and to forgive often, it's only gonna help you if you do that. And not only that, God's our vindicator. He's the one that brings a recompense in our life. But as long as I'm holding something against somebody, then my heart's not right toward God and so, to be honest, and the Bible says it, God doesn't even, he can't even answer our prayers if we're holding bitterness and unforgiveness.
Now, the reason why I wanted to talk about this today is because I have actually, been really concerned, the last couple of months, just about all the anger, and the unforgiveness, resentment, the offense, that Christians have. Now, you know, if you're in the world and you don't know any better that's one thing, but that's one of the first, I mean, that's like, Christianity 101. And so, here you have people that have been walking in the word for 15, 20, 30 years still getting offended easily, and hanging onto things, and harboring things, and gossiping about other people. And you know, it's just hurting you. And it's playing right into the devil's hands.
What does it say in Ephesians 4? "Don't let the sun go down on your anger. Don't give the devil any such foothold in your life". So, it's plainly telling us, that when we hold unforgiveness... Now, please listen to me: when we hold onto unforgiveness, no matter how justified you may think it is, see, that's where we get in trouble, when we start justifying wrong behavior. The Bible says don't do it, therefore, there's no justification for doing it. No matter how unfair something seems or no matter how long it takes God to deal with them, it is still up to God to be the one that brings the vindication.
And so, God wants you to go ahead and be happy and enjoy your life while he's dealing with your enemies. Do yourself a favor and forgive. I just have a little list here of seven reasons why you need to forgive. And we've already, we'll just make it eight because the first one, I've already talked about is, it's just good for you. Being mad at somebody else, it's like, taking poison and hoping it hurts them. And so, I mean, really, what's the point in being mad at somebody that's out having a good time and don't even care that you're upset? Do you know, most of the people that offend you don't even know they did it? Not bothering them, it's just bothering you.
So, I love what the Amplified Bible says, it says about forgiveness, "Leave it, let it go, drop it". And how many times do... I mean, I can remember Dave, back in the early years, when I got mad about everything. He's like, "Can you just drop it? There's some things you just need to, okay, drop it already, and get on with your life". Amen? The first reason to forgive is just because God said to. Boy, how much better our lives would be if we didn't have to know the why's and the wherefore's of everything? And if we just, "Well, God said it. That's what I'm gonna do", because what he says is what works.
So, how 'bout if we don't have to have a reason, and we don't even talk about how unfair it is, and we don't even talk about, "Well, you just don't know what they did to us". What if we just have a new attitude, "God said it, I'm gonna do it". Now, I know you may be thinking, "Well, I've tried and I just can't help it". No, here's what you can't help. You can't help how you feel. But you can make a decision to forgive people.
I recall many years ago asking the Lord, "Why do the same people come for prayer week after week, wanting to be able to forgive somebody"? And it's obvious they really want to but they're back the next week saying they had no success. And the thing he put in my heart was so simple. He said, "Because they don't do what I tell them to in my word". And so I started just looking, you know, God says to, "Pray for your enemies, and to bless and not curse them".
Those are the two things he says. Forgive, which is a decision you can make. It's not a feeling you have but you can, I decide to forgive, to leave it, to drop it, and to let it go. And one of the things that's a healthy way to look at it is to even say, "Lord, I know that I do more things wrong that you have to forgive me for than what you're asking me to forgive them for". We always need to remember our own imperfections and then it makes it a lot easier to forgive other people. Most people that hurt you are hurting, themselves. And they're only just acting out of what they feel and taking it out on the person that's the closest to them.
So, you decide, you pray the prayer, "I forgive so-and-so," name them, "I let it go". But then, you commit to pray for them on a daily basis. And I'll be honest with you, I said to the Lord, "I don't want 'em to be blessed". But the thing that God made me aware of, he said, "Well, what if the first thing I bless 'em with is revelation about what they did wrong? Well, yeah Lord, I would like that. That sounds like a cool idea".
So, see, when we think about God blessing somebody that doesn't just mean they're gonna get a boat load of merchandise dumped off in their driveway, or get a new house. I mean, the greatest blessings that we can have in our life is our spiritual blessings. The knowledge of God, and to know his will, and to want to do his will. And so, you can pray for your enemies and you can pray things for them that can be really helpful to them. And then bless and do not curse them, the word bless means to speak well of, and the word curse means to speak evil of.
So, guess what? If you're gonna forgive somebody you have to stop talking about what they did to you. I'mma say that a couple times. Oh, 'cause, our mouth. Man, do we ever wanna tell somebody. Isn't it hard when you've been hurt by somebody and then you hear somebody else talking about what a great guy they are, or you know, it's just so hard to just say, "Well, let me tell you a couple things. You know, there's another side to this". So, you gotta quit talking about it.
To be honest, that's one of the reasons why it's so hard for us to get over things is we just keep thinking about it, and talking about it, and thinking about it, and talking about it. And then, I also believe that to bless your enemies means to actually meet a need for them, if they have a need, or do something tangible. You know, for example, if somebody that you work with has really hurt you, and maybe done you wrong, and lied about you, or whatever and then you hear that their automobile is broken down and they don't have a decent way to get to work for the next two weeks. How 'bout if you, the person that they wronged said, "If you need a ride, I'd be happy to come by and get you". Even though it's out of your way, you'll do it because the most powerful thing that you can do is to be good to people who have not been good to you.
You're all shaking your head, but what about when it comes down to doing it? To help somebody move that really let you down when you needed them, or just, you know, there's all kinds of things that we can do for people. All you gotta do is listen to people. People will tell you all the time what they want, what they need, what would encourage them, and we need to listen more with an attitude of, "Come on, God, show me what I can do for you today". And then turn your ears on and listen. But most of the time we wanna be used by God but we don't want it to cost us anything. And that's not gonna work.
So, obedience, obedience equals power. The next thing is, reason to forgive is your faith won't work if you don't. Wonder how many people there are that are trying to exercise their faith for something that they need or want God to do for them, and yet, they're angry at the same time they're praying? I mean, I've been doing conferences for years, and I can ask in any congregation, I don't care how big it is, there can be 10,000 people there or 500. And if I preach a really good message about offense or these things, we're talking about today, and at the end ask people to put their hand up if they need to forgive somebody, I have never had less than 70% of the entire crowd raise their hand.
And these are Christian people who obviously, love God. They've taken their time to come out to a conference, and yet, those feelings... The way you feel when somebody has mistreated you. But to be honest, there's a spiritual secret in what I'm saying, that if you can get it, it's one of the most powerful things that can ever happen to you.
Romans 12:21 says, "We overcome evil with good". "Don't return evil for evil," Peter said, "Or insult for insult". But just like your father, your Heavenly Father, lets the sun shine on the good people and the wicked people, we're to be the same, and not let how they are dictate how we're gonna treat them. Mark 11:22-26, "So Jesus answered and said, 'have faith in God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, "Be removed and be cast into the sea," and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things that he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.'"
You know, that's good news if we're saying good things, but it works either way. "'Therefore I say to you, whatsoever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will get them.'" I love that because you don't wanna miss what it's saying. You have to believe first and then you receive, but it doesn't tell us how much time is gonna be between the believing and the getting. And to be honest, that's the testing time. That's the test of faith. "Will I continue to love God just as much if he never does what I've asked him to do? Will I continue to be faithful? How much am I gonna complain while I'm waiting"?
So, and everybody say, "And". Cause see, all the rest of this is great. Whatever you say, you'll get it. Believe and you'll get it. "'and whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your father in heaven forgive your trespasses.'" I mean, how powerful is that? And do we really believe it? So, holding unforgiveness, no matter how justified it might seem, really hurts your relationship with God. It like, it drives a wedge between you and God. And I can just imagine some of the people listening, you're just like, your little flesh is just screaming. It's like, "But, you just don't know what they did to me. You just don't know".
Well, I don't know what's been done to you, but I know some of the things that have been done to me. And I know, that for me, what I'm sharing with you today, was so unbelievably life-changing. Actually, when you see the secret power behind this, it actually, gets to be fun to bless your enemies. Because you know that it just drives the devil absolutely mad. Amen? Many examples in the Bible, how Joseph forgave, and you know, lots of other people, but this one I love. Paul, who worked really hard for the people and loved them, in 2 Timothy 4:16, it says that, "My first defense," at his trial, "No one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them". Ugh... And then you got Stephen while he's being stoned. "Forgive them Lord, they know not what they do", Jesus, "Forgive them they know not what they do".
And to be honest, if we can look at it like that, when people are mean and they hurt you, they really don't understand the spiritual impact of what they're doing. In Matthew 24, it's a chapter about signs of the end times. And this is probably one of the main reasons why I wanted to share this today. One of the signs of the end times is found in Matthew 24:10, and it says, and end-to-end, "Many will be offended". And the next thing it says, and "The love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied wickedness and lawlessness".
So, two things, offense is gonna just be like rampant in the earth. And I think, you know, people are just angry. You know, they're exploding everywhere. Had a mass shooting last week, I forget now where it was. But when they asked the guy why did he did it, he said, "Because I'm angry". So, that's kinda like, anger on steroids. When you're so angry that you're just gonna walk into a random place and start shooting people that had nothing to do with your problems. But the thing that's scary is the devil wants believers to be hard-hearted and cold-hearted. And he wants to build a stronghold of cold love. Because our main thing that God has asked us to do, "Is love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as you love yourself". I mean, love is our theme. That's the main focus of being a Christian is learning how to really love people the way that God loved them.
And our society today is so self-centered. Everything is about me. And we can't say that it has not crept into the church because it has. I mean, how many people even go to church on Sunday morning having gotten up and prayed, "God, show me what I can do for somebody else today"? No, we go to get our blessing. We wanna sit with the people we're comfortable with. Who cares about those people that came in that feel odd and strange because they've never been here before? Just to pray first, and go, and look for somebody that looks like they need an encouraging word or a friend, the happiest people on the planet are those who think the least about themselves. Amen?
It causes torture in your own life, literally torments you. It's on your mind. You think about it when you go to bed, you think about it when you get up, you think about it all the time. And the more you think about it, the madder you get. And the more you think about it, the more you talk about it. And pretty soon, it just consumes your whole life. Matthew 18:33-35, "And should you not have pity and mercy on your fellow attendant, as I had pity and mercy on you? And in wrath his master turned him over to the torturers (the jailers), till he should pay what he owed. So also my Heavenly Father will deal with every one of you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart his offenses". He got turned over to the jailer and was tortured.
How many agree with that? That being full of hatred, and bitterness, offense, it's just torture isn't it? Who wants to just, have that? It blocks your personal relationship with God and your ability to enjoy his presence. Your prayers are hindered. Matthew 6:14-15, "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither, will your father in heaven forgive you".
We need to take that for what it says, you know? It hinders worship. Matthew 5:23-24, "So if you're offering your gift at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. And first be reconciled to your brother, then come back and offer your gift".
Did you notice that it doesn't say, "If you have something against your brother, go and make it right". It says, "If your brother has something against you". So, he's asking us, as believers, to step up and be the first one to go and be a peacemaker, even if it's not your fault, just because God asked you to do it. You can't love with unforgiveness in your heart. That's probably one of the most important things. 1 Peter says, "Above all," everybody say, "Above all". "Keep loving one another earnestly, because love covers a multitude of sins".
Colossians 3:13-14, "Bear with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgive each other: as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive". Verse 13, "And above all these things put on love". Now, so what does that mean, put on love? Well, it means it's something you do on purpose. You know, I've never gone into my closet in the morning and just stood there and had my clothes just jump off the hanger onto my body. And you know, sometimes, I'll put on something, and I'll think, "Eh, that doesn't look very good on me".
So I'll wait until I find what looks good on me. And you know, some behaviors that Christians have just don't look good on 'em. It's like wearing your worst color in the world. Like, for me, it might be like that mustard, yellow color or like, an army green. I mean, I just look like a dead person in that color. Some people look beautiful in it, but I don't. So, guess what? I don't wear it. Well, there's some behaviors that we should just be totally unwilling to wear because, as a Christian who is supposedly a walking advertisement for God, behaviors and attitudes, things that we say that don't look good on us, they're not the right thing for us, we need to take those off and put on love.
Actually, the Bible says several times to put off and put on. And then the last one is, you open a big door for the devil, big, big, big. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11, "Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by satan: for we are not ignorant of his desires". Amen?