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2021 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Forgiving People You Never Want To Eat Lunch With Again - Part 2

Robert Jeffress - Forgiving People You Never Want To Eat Lunch With Again - Part 2


Robert Jeffress - Forgiving People You Never Want To Eat Lunch With Again - Part 2
Robert Jeffress - Forgiving People You Never Want To Eat Lunch With Again - Part 2
TOPICS: When Forgiveness Doesn't Make Sense, Forgiveness, Reconciliation, Consequences

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to, "Pathway to Victory". When someone we love deeply offends us, how do we restore that relationship to where it was before? And what if that person never shows any remorse? Well, healing a broken relationship requires a conscious effort on both sides. And today I'm going to walk you through the biblical steps of forgiveness, even when you never get an apology from the other person. My message is titled, "Forgiving People You Never Want to Eat Lunch With Again", on today's edition of, "Pathway to Victory".

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 the 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, men are notoriously bad for not understanding this truth. No, 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 it 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 biblical conditions for a reconciliation to occur. I want you to jot these down. You can forgive somebody, and should forgive somebody, UN-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 3:3, the prophet asked a very interesting question. He said, "Can two men walk together? Can two people walk together, lest they be agreed"? Now 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, pre-millennialists and non millennialists can get together, and get along, and worship the same God.

Calvinists and Armenians can worship the same God. We don't require theological conformity on every minute point of doctrine. So what does he mean, "Can two walk together lest 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, lest 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". 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? You know, people who teach that you don't have to ask forgiveness for your sins, they don't understand the difference between judicial forgiveness, and parental forgiveness. Two different types of forgiveness. It is true when you trust in Christ as your Savior, God does forgive you of all of your sins. I mean, after all, think about it, when Christ died for your sins, all of your sins were still future, weren't they? None of them had been committed yet. God wiped the slate clean, he declared you not guilty. You never have to fear hell again because of Christ's judicial forgiveness. But once you're a Christian, it doesn't mean you stop sinning. And when you sin, it's not his judicial forgiveness you need, you need his parental forgiveness.

Those of you who are parents understand that. You know, when your child, who's living at home, disobeys you, you know, hopefully you don't disinherit the child. You don't kick them out of the house, and put them on the street. But until that child is willing to admit his or her wrong, there's going to be a rupture, a breach, in that relationship with your child. The same thing is true in your relationship with God. Some of you right now are Christians. You're going to heaven one day. But there is a chasm, there's a rupture, there's a breach in your relationship with God. You're at a standoff with God, because he says you've hurt him, and sinned against him, and you're not willing to admit that.

The apostle John has a word about that in 1 John 1:8-9, John says, "If we say we have no sin, we're deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us of our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". But sometimes we use that verse in talking to non-Christians, but this verse really wasn't written to non-Christians. John wrote this letter of 1 John to believers. He calls them, "Little children". He said, "If you, as a Christian, say to your Heavenly Father, I have no sin, you're deceiving yourself. But if you will confess your sins, he will forgive you, he will reconcile that broken relationship with you".

Now, what is true in our relationship with God is true in our relationship with other people. For there to be a reconciliation, there has to be a repentance, or recognition of a wrong that's been done. Let me illustrate that. Let's say there's a husband and wife, they've been married for 20 years. And every valentine's day, the husband orders a dozen roses for his wife. On this valentine's day, he gets distracted at work and he forgets. So he comes home, and his wife says, "Where are my flowers"? Now, he's got a choice of how to respond. He could say, "Oh, I don't know what happened. I ordered them, the florist might have a messed up".

Now, if his wife happens to call the florist, it's going to be a chilly valentine's night, isn't it? Or, he could say, "I know, I forgot. But things just got so busy at the office, but you know what, that's no big deal. For 20 years, I've remembered, and I just forgot this one time. Now forget this, get off your high horse". We've heard a lot about that lately, "Get off your high horse. Just look back on the 20 years, and let's let tonight go". What do you think her reaction's going to be to that? It's only when he's willing to admit he made a mistake, he acknowledges the hurt that it caused his wife, and his reassurance that he'll try to make sure it doesn't happen again, that is the only way a reconciliation is going to take place. It's not that she's going to divorce her husband over this. Hopefully not, but there's going to be a coldness and a break in the relationship, until there's genuine repentance.

Number two, what does it take to affect a reconciliation? Not only repentance, but restitution, restitution. Before I reconcile to somebody who has wronged me, I'm going to want to see some type of restitution. Now restitution is the payment somebody makes for their sin against me. Now it's very important we don't confuse revenge with restitution. What is revenge? Revenge is my desire to hurt you for hurting me. Restitution is the payment somebody else volunteers for the wrong they've committed against me. I want you to write this down, 'cause it's so important to understand the difference. Revenge is the payment we demand from our offender. But restitution is the payment our offender volunteers to us. See the difference? Restitution is perhaps best illustrated in that passage we looked at a few moments ago.

Turn in your Bibles to Luke chapter 19, the story of Zacchaeus. Remember the story of Zacchaeus? He was a tax collector. The Bible calls him a publican, not a republican, a publican. And here's the way it worked. The Roman government would actually give a franchise to certain people to collect taxes on behalf of the Roman government. And the way it worked was if you were a tax collector, and you held that franchise in a particular city, you could charge whatever you wanted for somebody's income tax, send some of it to Rome, and keep the rest for yourself. So if you had a Jewish citizen, for example, who owed $2.000 to the IRS in Rome, they owed $2.000, you can actually charge $10.000, send 2000 to Rome, keep the other 8.000 for yourself.

Now you can imagine how much the Jewish people hated tax gatherers, even more than we do. But there's a kind of tax gatherer they really hated. Those were the people called the publicans. They were Jewish tax gatherers. They were Jews who allowed themselves to be used by Rome to collect taxes from their fellow Jews. And the Jews hated their fellow Jews who were tax gatherers, because not only were they helping support the system that was oppressing them, the Roman government, but they were also cheating them in the process. And when we open Luke 19, we find Zacchaeus was one of these publicans. He was a Jewish tax collector. He had no friends. His fellow Jews absolutely hated him. But then one day he heard Jesus was coming to town. And even though materially, he was wealthy, spiritually he was bankrupt. He had no relationship with God. He had no relationship with other people. And he just had an inkling that perhaps this Jesus was the answer to what he needed.

So when he saw Jesus and his procession coming down the street, Zacchaeus scurried up that sycamore tree to gain a sight of Jesus. And when Jesus and his party stopped in front of that trees, Jesus looked up and said, "Zacchaeus," he knew his name. "Zacchaeus, come down, for I'm coming to your house today to party". That's what he said, well in the Aramaic anyway, that's what it said. "I want to have a party at your house. I want to come and eat at your house". Well man, you could hear the murmuring in the crowd. Why in the world would this guy who claims to be the Son of God choose to go and eat in the home of a sinner? They went inside, Luke doesn't tell us any details of how the conversation went between them, but it must have been a revolutionary conversation, because when he came out, notice what Zacchaeus said, verses 8-9, "Zacchaeus said to the Lord, 'behold, Lord. Half of my possessions I will give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much'. Jesus said to him, 'today, salvation has come to your house,' because he, Zacchaeus too, is the son of Abraham".

Now what was Jesus saying? Was he saying, "Zacchaeus, because you're giving half to the poor, you have bought your salvation, your place in heaven". No. Zacchaeus couldn't buy his way into heaven. And the fact that he was willing to pay four times as much back to those he had defrauded, that didn't erase the fact that he had wronged those people. But his willingness to make restitution was a sign that his repentance was genuine, that's the point. Now, just suppose you were a Jew living at that time. And you're one of those ones who have been a victim of Zacchaeus's dishonesty. In fact, because Zacchaeus had overinflated your tax bill, you weren't going to be able to send your child to college next year.

As a Christian, you knew you should forgive Zacchaeus, and to the best you knew how, you have forgiven Zacchaeus. But a friend, a fellow Christian comes to you and says, "Hey, did you hear what happened today? Zacchaeus, that no good tax collector, he trusted in Christ as his Savior. He's a Christian, and he wants you to come to his house for a big dinner party tonight". What would be your reaction? You might say, "Well you know, I have forgiven Zacchaeus, but I don't have any desire to be around that cheat". But your friend says, "Oh, and I forgot to tell you, he's offering to pay back four times what he has stolen from you". What would be your response? What time is dinner? Why would you be anxious to go? Not just to get your money back, but the fact that Zacchaeus was offering restitution was a sign that his conversion was legitimate. That's why when somebody has wronged you, you can forgive them. If somebody has cheated you out of $50.000, you can forgive them. But before you go into business with them again, you're going to want to know where's your $50.000. Genuine reconciliation takes not only repentance, but also restitution.

Thirdly, rehabilitation, rehabilitation. Before we're reconciled to somebody, we want to know that they've changed. We want to know that we're not going to become victims again. Now rehabilitation is not the same as sorrow. You know, there are a lot of people who are sorry for what they've done. They're really sorry for the misery it's brought to their own life, and the consequences of what they've done. I've talked to wives sometimes, who have separated from their adulterous husbands. And they say, "You know what? Ever since I moved out, my husband is so sorry. And he's begging me to come back. Do you think ought to move back in"? I've said, "Do you really think he's repentant? Or is he just sorry he doesn't have anybody to wash his clothes, cook his meals, and sleep in his bed"?

There's a difference between sorrow and rehabilitation. Rehabilitation means being sorry enough to change your behavior. Paul makes that distinction in 2 Corinthians 7:10, he says, "For a real sorrow, a sorrow that is according to the will of God, that produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation. But the sorrow of the world produces death". There is a worldly sorrow that goes nowhere positive. A godly sorrow will lead to a repentance, a change of mind, leading to a change of direction, and produces no regret. Before we build a relationship again, with that adulterous mate, that abusive boss, that lying friend, we're going to want to see some evidence of change, rehabilitation.

And number four, reconciliation requires a rebuilding of trust. You know, a marriage relationship can be broken in just a few moments of adulterous pleasure. But it may take years to restore and to rebuild the trust in that relationship. Rehabilitation doesn't happen overnight. It takes, many times, a long period of time. For example, if you have your Bibles, turn over to Galatians 6:1, Paul talks about how we handle fellow Christians who are caught up, literally, or overtaken, ambushed by sin. And notice what the apostle says. He says, "Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted".

If somebody, a Christian, is overtaken by sin, and it happens to be a sin against you, you don't need to be the one to try to rehabilitate them. Another group of more mature Christians, or different Christians, need to work with him toward that rehabilitation, that leads to a rebuilding of trust. And he says, "It takes other people to restore such a one". That word restore in verse 1 is a Greek word that refers to the mending of a broken bone. He says, "A fallen Christian is like somebody who has broken a bone".

Now think with me about this, if you break your arm, what does it take for that arm to heal? Well, first of all, you have to put it in the right setting, don't you? You put it in a cast. It has to be in the right atmosphere to be able to heal. It takes the right setting, and it takes time. It doesn't happen overnight. It takes time for that arm to heal. It's the same way with a Christian who has been caught up for sin. If he is going to truly be rehabilitated, it means he has to place himself in the right setting. There have to be other Christians who are meeting with him, and helping him spiritually heal. He has to be in the right setting, and it also takes time.

Again, don't expect a reconciliation to happen overnight. Many times, it takes a rebuilding of trust. Now here's the point I want you to remember. The things you desire from other people, before they are reconciled to you, don't be surprised if other people demand the same thing from you before you're reconciled with them. We've been looking at the vantage point of what we demand, what we desire, before we're reconciled to the person who hurts us. We forgive them, but before we reconcile with them, these things have to take place. Remember, if somebody has been hurt by you, don't be surprised if they demand repentance, rehabilitation, restitution, or rebuilding of trust before they ever are willing to rebuild the relationship. What's the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation?

No one says it better than the late Lewis Smedes. "It takes one person to forgive. It takes two to be reunited. Forgiving happens inside the wounded person. Reunion happens in a relationship between people. We can forgive a person who never says he's sorry. We cannot be truly reunited unless he is honestly sorry. We can forgive even if we do not trust the person who wronged us not to wrong us again. Reunion can happen only if we trust the person who wronged us not to wrong us again. Forgiving has no strings attached. Reunion has several strings attached".
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