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2021 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Forgiving People You Never Want To Eat Lunch With Again - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - Forgiving People You Never Want To Eat Lunch With Again - Part 1


Robert Jeffress - Forgiving People You Never Want To Eat Lunch With Again - Part 1
Robert Jeffress - Forgiving People You Never Want To Eat Lunch With Again - Part 1
TOPICS: When Forgiveness Doesn't Make Sense, Forgiveness, Reconciliation

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress. And welcome again to Pathway to Victory. When someone violates your trust, it's one thing to find the grace to forgive their offense but does that also mean you're supposed to pretend like nothing ever happened? Today, I'm going to show you the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation and explain why reconciliation is not a requirement to forgive another person. My message is titled, "Forgiving People You Never Want to Eat Lunch With Again", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

How many of you were old enough, take it from me by looking out here I can tell many of you are old enough, to remember the old game show "Queen for a day"? How many of you remember "Queen for a day"? Okay. You know, if you're not familiar with the game show every day in the afternoon, some unsuspecting housewife would be plucked from the audience, she would be given a crown and a scepter and she would be treated royally for the next 30 minutes. So today we're going to play a version of "Queen for a day". Instead of "Queen for a day", however, we're going to call it "Pastor for a day". Your pastor has fallen ill, and you have been asked to sit in his chair for a day. And instead of being given a crown and scepter, you've been given a Bible and two counseling appointments. How would you respond to each of these appointments? First of all, you're to meet with Frank, the chairman of your deacons. He is called for an appointment. He said, "Pastor, I'm having a problem with one of our fellow church members and I need you to help me".

You always dread those kinds of appointments when you're asked to don your black and white referee outfit and settle a dispute. But he is the chairman of the deacons, and so you have to meet with him. And when you meet with him, he says, "Pastor, you know, you've asked me to serve on the long range building committee with a fellow deacon, Bill. And I've not told this to anyone, but number of years ago, Bill, cheated my son out of $25.000. And while I have forgiven, Bill, for what he's done, he's never said he was sorry for what he did and I just can't serve on a committee with Bill when he hasn't shown any remorse whatsoever for what he's done". How would you counsel, Frank? Would you do tell him he really hasn't forgiven, Bill, if he won't serve on a committee with him? Is he harboring secret bitterness in his life, because he refuses to work alongside a fellow church member? What would be your counsel?

Your second appointment is with a very godly woman in your church named, Sally. And she and John have been married for 10 years. They were high school sweethearts. They married shortly after graduation from college. The physical abuse actually began when they were dated and they not only continued throughout their dating relationship, but through the first 10 years of their marriage and it only increased in severity. Recently, Sally was able to persuade, John to go to a marriage enrichment seminar at the church. And at the end of the seminar, the speaker gave people a chance to trust in Christ as their Savior. And he asked those who were willing to turn over their life to Christ, to raise their hand. And to Sally's surprise, her husband John raised his hand indicating he had become a Christian. That night when they got home, John expressed true sorrow for what he had done and asked for Sally's forgiveness. That lasted a couple of days. The abuse began again and now it's worse than ever.

Sally asked you her pastor what she should do. She wants to move out of the home. She's fearful for her own well-being, but some friends of hers have said, "If you've truly forgiven your husband, you won't move out. You will stay in that relationship and trust your well-being to God to allow him to protect you. You don't want to move out and give your husband a reason to divorce you". What would be your counsel to Sally? Should she stay in the home and trust her protection to God? Or should she move out? If she has really forgiven her husband, will she be willing to stay in that relationship?

Over the last few weeks, we've been talking about the subject of forgiveness and we've been looking at some misunderstandings about forgiveness that keep many people, a prisoner of bitterness. For example, some people confuse forgiveness with repentance and they think you cannot forgive somebody who's unwilling to say, "I'm sorry". Of course, as we've seen, granting forgiveness is something we do unconditionally. It doesn't depend on what our offender does or doesn't do, we can forgive unconditionally so we can free ourselves from that person and get on with the life God has meant for us. Another barrier to some people forgiving, is confusing forgiveness with consequences. I maybe speaking to some of you right now, you're hesitant to forgive somebody because quite Frankly, you don't think it's right to let them off the hook. You don't want to say this person should suffer no consequences for what they've done to me. But as we saw last time, when you forgive somebody, you're not letting them off the hook. You're not erasing consequences that God or other people may demand from them.

When I forgive, I give up my desire for revenge to hurt somebody for hurting me, but I could never give up my desire for justice. That means letting God or somebody else settle the score. Well today, we're going to look at a third barrier for forgiveness, and that is confusing forgiveness with reconciliation. Maybe you're one of those people today, you're watching on Pathway to Victory. You've been harboring bitterness for a long time. You really want that freedom to come, that comes from forgiveness. You want to forgive, but honestly you have no desire to be reconciled with that cheating mate or that slanderous friend or that abusive boss. Have you really forgiven if you don't reconcile with that person? What we're going to discover today is while I can and should unilaterally and unconditionally forgive people, I cannot unilaterally and unconditionally be reconciled with people. Forgiveness, that depends upon me. Reconciliation, that depends on me and my offender.

Now, make no mistake about it, just because reconciliation is not unconditional does not mean it's unimportant. I don't want anybody to leave here today or turn off this broadcast and say, "Well, the pastor says reconciliation is optional". No, God always wants reconciliation. Over and over again, the Bible says, "God wants reconciliation". I don't care how bad your marriage is, God wants you to be reconciled to your mate. He desires reconciliation, that is always his desire. God wants reconciliation in marriages, in friendships and in churches, that is always his ultimate desire. Over and over again, the scripture talks about the importance of reconciliation. For example, in Psalm 133 verse one, the Psalm has said, "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell in unity". Or 2nd Corinthians 5:18, "Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and he gave us the ministry of what, reconciliation". Or Ephesians 4 verses three and four, "Be diligent to preserve the unity of spirit in the bond of peace for there is one body and one spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling". Or Philippians 2:2, Paul was writing to these feuding, fighting Philippians and what did he say to them? "Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit and intent on one purpose".

Make no mistake about it, God wants you to be reconciled to that person who has wronged you. Reconciliation is important for two very specific reasons. Jot them down. First of all, reconciliation testifies of God's power. Your ability to reconcile with somebody who has wronged you is a testimony to the world of the power of God. Isn't that what Jesus said in John 13 verse 35, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, by your knowledge of my word". Is that what he says? "By this all men will know you're my disciples by how much money you give to the poor". Is that what he says? No, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another". It is Christian's love and forgiveness of one another that is the most powerful witness to the world of the reality of the Christian faith.

And the corollary of that is nothing is a poorer witness to the world than the inability of Christian scape to get along with one another, the inability of Christians to forgive one another. Well, that's the way the world is. When we refuse to reconcile with those who have wronged us and forgive them, that's a poor witness to the world. I remember a Christian judge in one of my former churches said, "I am so sick and tired of all these members of our church, who stand before me asking for a divorce. They are destroying the witness of this church and the witness of Christ in this community". Nothing is a poor witness to the world than the inability of Christians to get along with one another. That's why God desires reconciliation.

Secondly, reconciliation empowers us to resist the enemy. It empowers us to resist the enemy. In Ephesians 6:12, Paul said, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but it's against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places". Do you hear what Paul was saying? The greatest struggle you're facing right now in your life is not with that jerky boss that you have to face tomorrow morning. It's not with that cold mate of yours who doesn't care about you like your see she should. Your greatest conflict is not with that business partner who's cheated you out of money. Paul said, your greatest struggle is with the very real but unseen forces of spiritual darkness. Make no mistake about it, Satan has you in the cross hairs, he's put an x on your back. He has marked you for destruction and whether or not you realize that you're in a struggle with him.

That word struggle, pali in Greek is a word that refers to a wrestling match in which the loser would have his eyes gouged out and he would be executed. That's the kind of death struggle you are in with Satan who wants to destroy anything and everything important to you. We're in that kind of war. You know, I've seen his tactics over and over again. There nothing original, he uses the same tactic because it always works. You know what the tactic is? What he does is, he loves to divide Christians and then isolate Christians and then attack Christians. I've seen this happen over and over again.

Here are two Christians that get involved in a marital dispute that ends in divorce. Are two business partners in a church who have a rupture in that relationship or two friends who get into a dispute. And what happens? They say "Well, I just can't go to that church anymore. I can't go to that church. If he, or she's going to be there, I can't go there". And what they do is, they end up falling away from the church one or both of them. They get cut off from the spiritual nourishment that they need and the support from other church members. And once Satan has isolated them from other Christians, that's when he attacks. And that's why reconciliation is so important. There is strength in numbers.

Martin, Laurie Jones was a very famous British expositor in the last century and he writes about the experience of witnessing the bombing of Hitler's nazi Germany against London during the second world war. Listen to what he writes, "How often during the last war were we told of extraordinary scenes and air raid shelters, how different people, belonging to different classes there, and the common need for shelter, from the bombs and death, forgot all of the differences between them and became one. This was because in the common interest, they forgot the divisions and the distinctions. That is why you always tend to have a coalition government during a war. In periods of crisis and common need, all distinctions are forgotten and we suddenly become united".

Never forget ladies and gentlemen, that you are in a war. It is a spiritual war. And that's why it is so important that we lay aside our differences and unite to fight the common enemy. Divorces, broken relationships, church splits, those are all opportunities, not only to destroy our witness for Christ to the outside world, but these things cause us to open ourselves up to the enemy's attack and destruction of our own lives. Make no mistake about it. God's ultimate will in that marriage, in that friendship, in that relationship, his will is always reconciliation. But although his will is reconciliation, reconciliation is not always possible, not with the person who has wronged us. In Roman 12:18, Paul writes these words that, perhaps you have or looked before. Paul said, "If possible, so far as it depends upon you, be at peace with all men".

Notice he says if possible, and as far as it depends upon you, be at peace with other people, be reconciled with other people, but it doesn't always depend upon you. Forgiveness depends upon you, reconciliation doesn't always depend upon you. In fact, a lot of people misunderstand this. They don't realize that in a relationship that has been broken, it is the offended party who holds all the cards when it comes to both forgiveness and reconciliation. For example, if you've wronged somebody, you can go and ask for forgiveness. In fact, in a few weeks, we're going to talk about how you go and approach somebody to ask them for forgiveness, how to do it and how not to do it. You can ask for forgiveness, but you can't demand forgiveness. That's something the other person has to desire. And in the same way, you can ask for reconciliation, but you can't demand reconciliation. It is the offended party who gets to decide whether or not a relationship is reconciled.

You know, our men are notoriously bad for not understanding this truth. You know they get in an abusive relationship with their wife and their wife finally kicks them out of the house and they come back and they plead for forgiveness and reconciliation and the wife isn't ready for a reconciliation yet. And the more she resists what happens, the more he demands and the more he demands, the more she resists. And that goes in a downward spiral because he doesn't understand, he has no right to reconciliation. That's not something you demand, it's something you request. You see again, forgiveness is unilateral, it's unconditional, but reconciliation for that to take place, there are at least four biblical conditions for a reconciliation to occur. I want you to jot these down. You can forgive somebody and should forgive somebody, an unilaterally, unconditionally. When you forgive, you let go of your right to hurt them for hurting you. But before you're reconciled to that person who has wronged you, there are probably at least four things you want to see in that person's life.

Number one is repentance. Repentance. What is repentance? It's a change of mind that leads to a change of direction. In Amos three verse three, the prophet asked a very interesting question. He said, "Can two men walk together? Can two people walk together, unless they be agreed"? That's a strange question, isn't it? Can two people have a relationship if they can't be agreed? I mean, maybe you like Mexican food and your wife likes Italian food. That doesn't mean you have a divorce, does it? You don't have to agree on everything to be married. You can be friends with somebody who has a different political affiliation. You know, republicans and democrats can be friends with one another. Doesn't require an agreement about politics. In a church situation?

You know, premillennialist and non-millennialist can get together and get along and worship the same God. Calvinist or minions can worship the same God. We don't require theological conformity on every minute point of dock print. So what does he mean? Can two walk together unless they be agreed? There are some secondary issues we don't have to agree on, but for most people, the most basic issue we have to agree on is how you're treating me. You see if you're in a relationship with somebody and you feel like they have wronged you, but they refuse to believe they have wronged you, well, it's going to cause a rupture in the relationship, isn't it? As long as you feel like they are not being honest and unwilling to admit the wrong and the hurt they brought into your life, that is going to cause a rupture in your relationship with that other person. And only when that person is willing to admit that they've hurt you and really show a care about the hurt they brought into your life, will that relationship ever be healed?

That's true in our relationship with God, by the way, in fact, that's the whole setting for Amos 3:3, "Can two walk together unless they be agreed"? The prophet was saying, "Israel, God has said you have wronged him. And yet you say you have not wronged him. We've got a problem here, until you Israelites are willing to admit you're wrong toward God, you are not going to be able to walk together". And that brings up an interesting question a lot of people have, because that's true in your relationship with God and my relationship with God. As long as God says, you have sinned and you keep saying you haven't sinned, even as a Christian, you're not going to have a right relationship with God.

You know, I've heard this question abated for a long time, "Do Christians have to ask forgiveness for their sins"? There's a whole group of people who teach that once you've trusted in Christ as your Savior, you never have to ask his forgiveness again because after all he's already forgiven you of all of your sins past, present, and future. And if he's forgiven you of your sins, why ask him for forgiveness again? In fact, I've actually heard people teach, it's sinful for a Christian to ask God's forgiveness because they're discounting what Christ did when he died on the cross. Should you ask forgiveness from God for your sins?
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