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2021 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Forgiving Sorry People Who Aren't Sorry

Robert Jeffress - Forgiving Sorry People Who Aren't Sorry


Robert Jeffress - Forgiving Sorry People Who Aren't Sorry
Robert Jeffress - Forgiving Sorry People Who Aren't Sorry
TOPICS: When Forgiveness Doesn't Make Sense, Forgiveness, Offense

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". When we've been personally offended by someone it's natural to fight back feelings of resentment and bitterness. The pain sinks even deeper when our offender shows no signs of remorse. In those painful situations, sometimes we harbor the secret desire to even the score with an ugly act of revenge. Well, today, we're going to look to God's word to discover a better way of dealing with the pain. My message is titled: Forgiving Sorry People Who Aren't Sorry, on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".

In preparation for the writing of my book, "When forgiveness doesn't make sense," on which this series is based, I worked with the George Barna Research company in California, and together we conducted a nationwide survey about American's attitude regarding forgiveness. We wanted to know what do Americans really think about the subject of forgiveness? And so we surveyed a sample representative of our country, including both Christians and non-Christians. And we found out some interesting facts. For example, 40% of Americans say that right now, they are struggling with forgiving somebody who has hurt them deeply. That means right now there are 65 million Americans who say they're having difficulty with the issue of forgiveness.

We also ask the respondent a number of questions. And one of those questions was this one. Is it possible to sincerely forgive somebody who shows no remorse? Surprisingly 62% of Americans say, you cannot forgive somebody who shows no remorse for what they've done. Are those people correct? Is it impossible to forgive people who refuse to say, "I'm sorry"? Is your healing from the wounds of the past dependent on what your offender chooses to do or not do? I'm speaking to some of you right now, who have been waiting and waiting and waiting for that person who has hurt you to say, "I'm sorry". Is your emotional and spiritual wellbeing dependent upon what the other person does? Today in the few moments we have, I would like to offer you three powerful, and I believe biblical reasons for unconditionally forgiving those who have wronged you, even if they're unwilling to say, "I'm sorry".

First of all, unconditional forgiveness is biblical. It is biblical. Now we talked about, there are four times that repentance is absolutely necessary. Remember what they were? Repentance is necessary first of all, for us to receive God's forgiveness. Secondly, we said repentance is necessary for reconciliation with people we have wronged. Thirdly, repentance is necessary for our restoration to a position we may have lost. And fourthly, repentance is necessary to experience relief from guilt. So repentance is critical. But notice in each one of those examples, I was talking about the person who was guilty of the wrong doing. But now let's switch audiences. What about the offended? What about the person on the receiving end of the wrongdoing? Does he need to demand repentance before he forgives? Absolutely not. The Bible makes a strong case for unconditional forgiveness.

Turn over to Matthew 18:35. We're going to skip through a lot of scripture today. So just follow with me, Matthew 18:35. Remember this was the climax to Jesus story about the unforgiving slave. Remember the slave who would not forgive his fellow slave of the $16 debt, even though this slave had just been forgiven by the king of a $16 billion debt? And when the king heard what this unforgiving slave, who had been forgiven of so much, what he had done and being unwilling to forgive such a paltry debt, well, the king moved with anger, took that slave and cast him into prison and delivered him over to the torturers until he should repay everything. And then look at verse 35, Jesus added the application for us. "So shall my Heavenly Father also do to you if each of you does not forgive brother from your heart".

Forgiveness begins not in our offenders heart, it begins in our heart. And by the way, it not only begins there, it ends there as well. The whole forgiveness transaction begins and ends in our own heart. Let me show you where scripture says that. Turn over to Mark 11:25-26. Jesus was talking about praying. Notice what he says in verses 25 and 26. "And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone so that your father who is in heaven may forgive you of your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your father who's in heaven, forgive your transgressions".

Now let me explain the scenario Jesus is describing here. Let's imagine that you decide to set your alarm clock 20 minutes earlier one morning so you can spend some time praying. Your alarm goes, you congratulate yourself for gaining some blanket victory and being able to get out of bed and you kneel down and you start praying to your Heavenly Father, asking him for this or that, or praising him for this or that, when suddenly an alien thought comes into your mind. You remember some hurtful words that your mate spoke to you several weeks ago. Now at the time when he or she spoke those words, you dismissed it, you overlooked it. You chopped it up to, they must be having a bad day. And you congratulated yourself at the time for not letting their words start World War III in your house. You thought you had forgiven it. But now here you are praying to God, and you suddenly remember what your mate said and what he or she did to you. Now, what is to be your response?

Now, some people would say, well, Jesus taught that in that case, you need to quit praying or quit worshiping and go be reconciled to that other person. And that people use a passage of scripture from Matthew 5, to make that point. Hold your place here, turn back to Matthew 5:23-24. This is so important to understand. Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus said, "If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go your way, first be reconciled to your brother and then come and present your offering". If you're trying to worship God, whether it's in your home or in your church, you're worshiping God and you remember that your brother has something against you, Jesus said, quit worshiping right then and go and be reconciled to that person who has something against you, then go back to worshiping God.

You know why that's so important. Jesus was emphasizing the importance of having a clear conscience. It is impossible to live the Christian life without a clear conscience. In fact, in 1 Timothy 1:19, Paul talked about two necessities for living the Christian life. He said, "Keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith". Do you know what a clear conscience is? I love this definition. A clear conscience is the knowledge that no one, including God can accuse you of a wrong, you've not attempted to make right. That's what a clear conscience is. It's the knowledge that there is no one on this planet who can accuse you of a wrong you've not attempted to make right. And it's not saying they can't accuse you, anybody can accuse you of anything. Believe me, I know that from personal experience. You can be accused of anything, but you can have a clear conscience. You can look anybody in the eye, if you know that you've attempted to make right, what they have accused you of.

God wants you to have that kind of life. He doesn't want you when you're walking down the hallway at work or the hallway of your church, having to avoid people because you feel guilty around them. Maybe people you owe money to, or people you've gossiped about, or people you have wronged in some way. God wants you to have a clear conscience. And that's why he says, if you are trying to worship God, and you remember somebody has something against you, you need to try to make that wrong, right. Doesn't mean you'll always succeed, but at least you can know you've done your part. Now that's what he's talking about in Matthew 5. Now go back to Mark 11 though. He says, if you're praying and you remember.... Not that somebody has something against you, but you have something against somebody else. See the difference?

If you're trying to worship God, and you remember that you have something against somebody else, what are you supposed to do? Drop everything and go try to be reconciled to that person? No, no right there in the privacy of your bedroom or your church pew or wherever you are from your own heart, you're to forgive that person. You have the ability to forgive right there, to let go, to surrender, what you have against that other person and get on with your worship. And you know, it doesn't matter what that other person does or doesn't do. It doesn't matter where that person is. That person can be in the next room, they can be in the next state, they can be in the cemetery it doesn't matter. Jesus said, you have the ability in your own heart to begin an end, the forgiveness transaction.

One more thought here. What about what Jesus said in Luke 17 about repentance as a prerequisite for forgiveness. Turn over to Luke chapter 17:3-4. Let's look and see what Jesus really said and what he didn't say. He said, "Be your guard. If your brother sins rebuke him and if he repents forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day and returns to you seven times, saying, I repent, forgive him". What Jesus is saying is, suppose somebody comes to you and said, "You know, I'm so sorry for what I did. Will you forgive me"? And you say, "Well, yes". 24 hours later, they do the same thing again. "Oh, will you forgive me? I don't know what happened to me, I just slipped up. Please forgive me". "Yes I will". And what if they keep on doing that, asking your forgiveness? What are you to do? Jesus says you're to keep on forgiving, an unlimited number of times. Repentance is our offenders responsibility, forgiveness is our responsibility.

Number two, unconditional forgiveness is practical. One reason we ought to forgive unconditionally, even the sorry people who refuse to say I'm sorry is unconditional forgiveness is both comfortable and practical. Not only that such a confrontational lifestyle, doesn't that violate that verse we read in 1 Corinthians 13:5 today that says "True love keeps no record of wrongs". John macArthur has a good word about this. He writes "The heavy emphasis on forgiveness in scripture is not meant to make us more confrontational, but quite the opposite. When scripture calls us to have an attitude of forgiveness, the emphasis is always on long suffering, patience, benevolence, forbearance, kindness, and mercy, not on confrontation". Unconditional forgiveness provides a way that we can let go of the wounds of the past, regardless of what the other person does or doesn't do.

Number three. And this is so key. Unconditional forgiveness is not only biblical and practical, it's also beneficial. Probably the best reason to forgive unconditionally is not because of what it does for your offender, but because what it does for you, Robin casarjian writes, "So often when people think about forgiveness, they think about what it's going to do for somebody else. What they don't realize is that forgiveness is really an act of self-interest. We're doing ourselves a favor because we become free to have a more peaceful life, when we're free from others". When you refuse to let go of somebody's hurt against you, it is like you are binding yourself to your offender. You are bound to them. You can go no farther and no faster in life than they're willing to travel. Your wellbeing depends on what they choose to do. But forgiveness is the procedure God has designed for us to free ourselves from the one who's hurt us.

When we forgive somebody we're saying not necessarily to them, we're saying to ourself and to God, "God, you know what this person did to me is wrong. You know, they deserve to suffer for what they did to me, but I don't want to be bound to them any longer. Today, I'm separating myself from them. I'm letting go of them. I'm going to let you or somebody else settle the score with them so that I can be free to get on with my life". And you may be saying isn't that self-serving? Isn't that a self-serving reason for forgiving? You bet it is. And it's also a God serving reason to forgive.

Remember the words of Hebrews 12:1, "Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin would so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us". We are all in a race called the Christian life. We have a goal, the high calling of Jesus Christ. But as long as we are bound to that person who has hurt us, we will never be able to run with endurance, the race God has designed for us. Forgiveness is the way we separate ourselves from our offender so that we can be free to live God's will for our life.

Dr. Chuck Lynch describes a counseling patient he had named Amber. She was a young woman who, when she was five years old, started being sexually abused by her grandfather. And the abuse went on for years and years until the grandfather died. Chuck says he explained to Amber the benefits and the possibility of unconditional forgiveness. And after she came to understand that it really was possible to forgive her grandfather, she wrote this letter to her dead grandfather. She called it a gift for grandpa. I want you to listen to it carefully. She wrote:

Dear grandpa. I'm writing this letter to share with you a few changes that have taken place in my life. But first of all, I want to tell you thanks for all that you have done for me. You gave me a lot of special memories. The times of washing and waxing your car with you to make it shiny and new looking. Sometimes we would splash and play in the water. Thank you for loving me and being my friend when there seemed to be no one else. I also want you to know that I'm on a spiritual journey, working toward the inner healing with the Lord Jesus in my heart. But I am having trouble in the area of the things you did to me when I was a little girl. So through my struggle to help me move on in my healing, I want to give you a gift, the most special gift I could give to you. That gift grandpa is forgiveness.

I want to explain to you what kind of forgiveness it is. My gift of forgiveness to you is for all the violations done against me by you, when I was growing up. I will explain. I want to forgive you and release you for violating me by using my body for your own sexual pleasure. I want to forgive and release you for the mistrust you developed in me, training me not to let anyone be too close to me for fear of being hurt. I want to forgive and release you for making me feel so ashamed when I did nothing wrong. I want to forgive and release you for setting me up to falsely blame myself for something I could not control or make stop as a local child. I want to forgive and release you for the anger you developed inside me towards you. I want to forgive and release you for the hate and fear of men that you instilled in me, even towards my dad, whom I now love with all of my heart. I want to forgive you and release you for deceiving and lying to me and threatening me not to tell by saying I deserved it. If I deserved it, why? What had I done? I was an innocent child, confused into believing that what you were doing was allowed.

I want to forgive you and release you for shattering my dreams for a happy marriage, with someone to really love me. The most important thing I want to forgive you and release you for is the distorted picture of God you gave me. You made me blame him for the sin, which you were committing, which was not his fault. As a child I could not understand how a God who loved me and in the Bible said he was there for me and would protect me and guide me, how could he let something like this happen? Now I know it wasn't his fault, and he was there for me all the time. Grandpa, now that I've completed this part of the journey and transferred you over to the Lord through forgiveness, I want to make a promise in my heart that I will never bring this up against you, again. It is time to draw this letter to a close and say goodbye. Before I do, I want to thank you again for all the good memories you've given me. I will always cherish those times. Now that I feel better about myself and can accept what happened to me, I can really say, I know what it means to love you through the eyes of the Lord, Amber.


I suspect that as I've been preaching this message today, God has brought to your mind, somebody who has hurt you, deeply. It may have been through incest, some other type of abuse or it may have been just another kind of wrong that was committed against you. And the person who has hurt you may be unaware of what they've done to you or worse they may be unmoved by it, they don't care. Perhaps you've lost touch with that person. Perhaps that person is gone forever. Hear what the Word of God is saying to you this morning. You don't have to be their prisoner any longer. God wants you to be free. And the way to experience that freedom from the wounds of the past is through unconditional forgiveness of letting go. Unconditional forgiveness is biblical, it's practical, it's beneficial, and most of all it's possible.
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