Thursday, January 15, 2015

SESSION 6: UNFORGIVENESS

SESSION 6: UNFORGIVENESS






What is UNFORGIVENESS?
A simple definition of unforgiveness is:
A grudge against someone who has offended you.”

1.   Merriam-Webster definition:
·       Not willing to show mercy; excuse people’s faults or wrongdoings.
·       Not allowing for mistakescarelessness, or weakness.

2.   Biblical definition:
·       Unforgiveness “is a SIN”. It’s a resentful attitude that spawns a full range of evil thoughts and actions.
·       Unforgiveness produces a cycle of bitterness, “unrighteous” fruit.


Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 




A.   What forgiveness IS NOT.
     

1. Forgiveness is not ignoring the sin.
a. God does not overlook sins and neither should His people.
b. Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3).

2.Forgiveness is not putting the offender on probation while we discuss how inexcusable his behavior was, and then promise to forgive if no further offenses are forthcoming. IE - Clause/contract: "I'll only forgive him if he forgives me."

3. Forgiveness is more than a refusal to retaliate or repay evil for evil. A person can refrain from such and still harbor bitterness & ill will.
(Don't let Satan trick you into thinking you've forgiven when you haven’t.)

4.    Forgiveness is not forgetting the offense. “Forgive and forget”. Never put yourself in harm’s way.

B. What IS forgiveness?

1. Perhaps we can better tell what forgiveness is by observing what God does when He forgives.
a. When God forgives, He removes the notation of wrong from His record. Acts 3:19 - Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.”
b. When God forgives . . . He doesn’t condemn us for the wrong we did.. our sins are completely forgiven. God does not remember our sins in the way He treats us.
Romans 8:1 tells us there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.


Biblical examples of forgiveness:

In Genesis 33:4 - Esau forgave Jacob for stealing his family inheritance. Years later when they met up, Esau ran to Jacob and hugged him and kissed him and showed forgiveness and mercy. He had so forgiven Jacob that he was surprised Jacob would even think that there might be hard feelings between them!!!




In Genesis 50:10-21 - Joseph forgave his brothers for selling him into slavery.







In Numbers 12:1-13 - Moses forgave Miriam & Aaron (brother/sister) for speaking against him for marrying a Cushite woman. The Lord struck them with leprosy, but Moses prayed for them to be healed.










In 1 Samuel 24:9-22 - David forgave Saul for trying to kill him. The Lord had put Samuel in David’s hands, but David showed mercy and let him go.



In Luke 15:11-24 - The father forgave the prodigal son for leaving and squandering his inheritance.

(This is how our heavenly Father forgives us.)









In John 8 – Jesus forgives the adulteress. Jesus said that they were welcome to start the stoning as soon as they felt like they were without sin and did not deserve a stoning of their own.








In Acts 7:16 - While being stoned to death, Stephen said, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”

Those were his last words before entering the realm of eternity. He did not carry a spirit of unforgiveness with him to his grave.

*Are you carrying a spirit of unforgiveness against someone?



Our greatest example.

"So, brothers, I'm telling you that through Jesus
your sins can be forgiven.
- Acts 13:38

-Through Jesus, any sin can be forgiven.










Two important commandments given to us by God:

Matthew 22:37-40:

1.     "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  

2.    ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment GREATER than these.”


Love is the exact opposite of unforgiveness, envy, jealousy, hate, pride and bitterness. You can't truly love somebody and hold bitterness or unforgiveness against him or her at the same time.

Unforgiveness shows we don't really love Jesus. If we are bitter or hold unforgiveness against somebody, then we don't love them as Christ loved us. Jesus told us to love one another, as He has loved us (John 15:12).
If we don't keep Jesus' commandments, then it proves we don't love Him.
o  John 14:24, "Whoever does not love me does not keep my words”
o  John 14:15, If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”

The Parable: Our responsibility to forgive others

God sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins, so that we may be reconciled (restored) to Him, without spot or blemish. He asks that we give others the same forgiveness that paid for us. Jesus teaches about forgiveness through a parable in Matthew 18:23-35:

"For this reason, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn't pay, so the king ordered that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had be sold to pay the debt. But the man fell down before the king and begged him, 'Oh, sir, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.' Then the king was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. "But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. 'Be patient and I will pay it,' he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn't wait. He had the man arrested and jailed until the debt could be paid in full. "When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him what had happened.  Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, 'You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn't you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?' Then the angry king sent the man to prison until he had paid every penny. "That's what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters in your heart."


Everything God asks us to do is for OUR benefit!!!

1.    We forgive because it’s God’s way (God commands us to forgive because without forgiveness there is no love).
2.    Forgiveness reflects God’s character (God called himself “God of forgiveness” in Nehemiah 9:17 – He promises when His people pray & earnestly seek Him He will forgive their sins – Chronicles 7:14).
3.    Forgiveness brings healing (God’s command to forgive is backed up for His design for our bodies & souls)

He designed us in a way that we should not hold onto grudges and bitterness towards others. When we do this we pay a price – not only in our emotional and spiritual health but in our physical health.

“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

·    





   Mayo Clinic cited studies that examine effect of holding grudges: People who do have higher heart rates, blood pressure, and more tendencies toward depression.


University of North Carolina: Grp. of male medical students were followed for 25 yrs. Study revealed physicians with hidden hostilities died at a rate that was 6x greater than those who had more forgiving attitudes.

University of Michigan: Grp. of women were tracked for 18 yrs. to see who was harboring long-term anger. Women w/suppressed anger were 3x more likely to have died during the study than those who didn’t have bitter hostility.

4.    Forgiveness is a tool of the gospel (Our salvation hangs on forgiveness – Jesus hinges our entire relationship with God on forgiveness: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive yours sins”)
We want God to empathize with us when we do wrong, but we argue as to why we shouldn’t forgive others for the deep wounds they’ve caused us.

We want God to be MERCIFUL towards OUR sins
Yet JUST toward others.
*watch videos clips below*





"The Power of Forgiveness"


"Mother Forgives"



HOW ARE YOU TO FORGIVE?

A. Forgive from your heart . . . not just from your mouth.
B. We must forgive as Christ forgives:
 1. Freely — no constraints.
 2. Abundantly — no “piece-meals”
 3. Immediately — no time payments.
 4. Finally — does not bring it up again.
 5. Uncalculatingly — time and again




“HOW OFTEN MUST WE FORGIVE"
Peter saw how concerned Jesus was about sin. He saw His master offer forgiveness of sins to the paralytic, signifying how much more important forgiveness is than any other healing we may experience.  So he asked Jesus…“How often must we forgive?"
Peter thought seven times was sufficient. How did he arrive at seven? The rabbi said to forgive three times. Peter doubled that number and added one, thinking this was more than sufficient.
Jesus taught differently than either or the rabbi. He said “seventy times seven.”

Another way of saying no limits.” Matthew 18:21-22

o   Do not keep a ledger. Forgiveness is not a matter of arithmetic.
o   You can never out-forgive God.
o   Forgiveness doesn’t make you a doormat. Don’t ever put yourself in a harmful situation (spiritually/physically).
  

Are you stuck in unforgiveness?

The first step to forgiveness is recognizing that we’re stuck in unforgiveness. A lot people remain in unforgiveness because they have no clue they are even there.
These are some ways to assess if YOU are offended or if someone is offended AT you - AND if you are in a season of “unforgiveness” and “bitterness”.

SYMPTOMS OF UNFORGIVENESS:

ð      When you think of that person, does your heart leap up with love and joy for them?
ð      Do you desire to have fellowship with them or do you avoid them?
ð      Do you carry blame or condemnation for them?
ð      Do you still make up scenarios in your head, create speeches, or write letters of what you want to say to them, or what you should have said to them?
ð      Do you sometimes think hard thoughts and have to repent, only to think those hard thoughts again and have to repent, over and over?
ð      Do you have strong emotional reactions when you think of or see the person who hurt you?
ð      Can you sincerely pray for this person and bless them; sincerely desire to see them blessed and happy?
ð      Can you, and do you, honestly rejoice when good things happen for the person who wounded you?

Do you continue to make accusations against the person?

ð      You complain to others about the person and desire others to join in agreement with your complaint.
ð      You tell blatant lies about the person who hurt you.
ð      You tell the story with exaggeration and half-truths to draw people on your side. You look for affirmation or validation.
ð      You blame the person for the hurt and pain that you have - failed to take responsibility for your own emotions/reactions.
ð      You talk more “about” the person than “to” them.
ð      The rail against the person (Arguments, harsh words, fussing, mocking, name-calling, smart retorts, even cursing).
ð      You come easily into agreement with evil thoughts about them.
ð      You are constantly bringing up past hurts; which are still fresh in the mind, no matter how long ago.

Do you continue to feel the need to be separated from the person?

ð      You do not want to talk to the person or have them in your presence.
ð      If you are in their presence, you keep your distance from them.
ð      You do not make normal eye-contact during conversation.
ð      Anger, hurt, bitterness, and resentment is rising up inside you. Growing, thereby defiling others.
ð      You give them the silent treatment when you are in their presence.
ð      You are offended and begin to build up barriers to shut them out.
ð      You hide from the person and pretend not to be available when they need help. (shower, busy today, didn’t check my phone, out all day, sick)
ð      You do not admit you were wrong (this is the spirit of pride-a deadly sin).
ð      You do not do what you ordinarily do in a normal circumstance. You may be satisfied to get someone else to perform your service.
You’re constantly involved in strife and/or bringing about division?
ð      You are anxious to talk about the person behind their back (Don’t tell her I said this…”)
ð      You tell the same story over and over again, trying to make them guilty and to make yourself look good.
ð      You are quick to start a fight, register a complaint, and you probably don’t recognize it, because you justify yourself in doing so.
ð      You hold the person hostage emotionally with constant negative talk and hard actions.
ð      You are short with them when they tried to talk or converse with you.
ð      You have no time for them when they try to engage with you.
ð      You may set a trap to cause them to fall.
ð      You don’t want them to touch you. You resist their advances toward you, toward reconciliation and peace.
ð      You find it easy to enter into a scheme to hurt them, or defraud them.
ð      You have no peace yourself and you break the peace in an atmosphere.
ð      You try to make them feel guilty in order to make yourself feel good.
ð      If the person’s a spouse, family member, church brother, you do not want to share with them as a covenant partner.
ð      You desire to write them off-eliminate them. (you’re dead to me)
Do you have a lack of compassion for the person who offended you?
ð      You feel lime and act like the person is the enemy instead of the demonic spirit that has them in captivity.
ð      You have a spirit of hard-heartedness.
ð      You find it easy to not care about what happens to them.
ð      You want to see them hurt so that you can have your revenge and get even with them.
ð      You find it easy to be rude verbally and physically (sarcastic comments).
Are you operating in ungodliness; a loss of spirituality: a loss of discernment and spiritual power, ect.?:
ð      Your prayer life is ineffective (is God answering your prayers?).
ð      You blame God: “Why did you allow this to happen?” You also blame others for the events in your life.
ð      You generally do not want spiritual guidance or to receive what the word of God has to say about the situation.
ð      Check yourself! You may have mood swings; you may be holding a grudge; you may have an attitude towards the person.
ð      You may have body language and facial expressions that are godly (pouting, mouthy, pushy, aggressive, and showing an attitude).
ð      You may have “no feelings” at all toward them. This would be contrary to call for us to love one another, honor, and prefer one another above ourselves.
ð      Your acts of love may be phony, a play act, and in some cases hatred disguised.
ð      You may find yourself struggling with the situation, rather than committing it to God.
ð      You may be easily deceived because when we reject the word of God deception is sure to follow (James 1:22).
Are you having feelings of discouragement, disappointment, rejection, and/or despair, etc.?:
ð      You may be filled with disappointment, discouragement, and shame, because of putting trust in mortal man instead of God.
ð      You may find your love is growing cold. You have less and less love for them.
ð      You find that you have no fruit of the spirit: love, joy, no peace, long-suffering, gentleness, no goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.
ð      You find that you have no home and want to give up, quit or leave spouse, family, church, friends, job, etc.


What causes unforgiveness?

Symptoms of unforgiveness, unresolved anger, and resentment originate from an offense (Real or perceived *body language). We've all offended or been offended at some point.

Luke 17: Jesus Warns of Offenses

17 Then He said to the disciples“It is impossible that no offenses should come (Situations that cause people to lose faith are certain to arise).
People WILL offend you: “Put me in an atmosphere where there are no offenses.” Keep looking for – or worship the idea of - the “perfect job, church, spouse, etc. Anything that doesn’t meet this stipulation is rejected, because you are trying to find a place where offenses don’t exist. How many jobs have you had, churches you been to, or relationships you been in?
It is impossible says Jesus! Offenses WILL come! People are flawed.
** “To him whom much is given, much is required.” The more you have the more offenses you will incur. Your level of being able to deal with offenses determines what level to which God can elevate you. If you can’t handle a 1st grade offense, you can’t have a master’s degree life.**
But woe to him (the offender) through whom they do come (How horrible it will be for the person who causes someone to lose his faith). Are you the one causing people to leave their JOB, CHURCH, and HOME?
 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones (you’re going down)Take heed to yourselves (watch yourself – govern yourself). If your brother sins against you, rebuke him (don’t keep it a secret – don’t be secretly angry/passively angry – go to him and rebuke him); And if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you,[b] saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”

The Apostles Ask for More Faith

And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this sycamine tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

·       Why a tree –not a mountain? Matt: 17:20 you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move.”
·       Mountain is a huge obstacle – no excavation equipment in their day
·       Took trees down all the time – could walk around it. So why is the tree used as an example?


Trees have roots. Offenses grow bitter roots deep in our heart and it’s hard to pull them out… just like a tree.



It takes “faith” to forgive. God will help us to overcome all hindrances (offenses/stumbling blocks) to our love.

Offend (Meriam/Webster’s definition): to feel hurt, angry, or upset by something said or done
.
Offense: (Vine’s/Greek ‘skandalon’)The name of the part of the trap on which the bait hung that “lured the animal into the trap.
·       Satan uses offenses as “bait” to lure us into a life-time cycle (eph. 4:31) of bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, and even hatred.  






(Vine’s definition continued…)A hindrance or a stumbling block.
When we allow the spirit of offense to come in, it becomes a hindrance and a stumbling block in our love walk with God and others.

Matthew 24:12The love of the body grows cold because of the lawlessness [of offense] and other iniquities.
·       We cannot love with “offense” in our hearts.
Unforgiveness, sown by our wounds, chokes our ability to love, to be compassionate, and to experience freedom.

1 John 2:9 Anyone who claims to be ‘in the light’ but hates a brother or sister, is still in the darkness.” (Anyone claiming to be in Christ, or to claiming to be saved, and is living with hatred in their heart, is possibly still unsaved)

The body of Christ of Christ is weak. Our prayers our ineffective because we’re harboring bitterness/unforiveness in our hearts… and some don’t even know it.
(I.e Unanswered prayers: praying for a friend/forgiveness, praying for the sick, unsaved - of course some prayers are answered according to God's will.)

We cannot pray or worship properly with offense in our hearts.

*Unforgiveness can block God from answering our prayers and can also block His blessings toward us.
·       Matthew 6:9-15 – Forgive others for prayer to work.
·     Mark 11:24, 25 – Forgive so we can be forgiven. "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.  And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”



YOU HAVE BEEN SINNED AGAINST

Somebody has said something or done something or failed to say/do something. And it’s not just you, seated on your throne, rendering a verdict. It’s God, seated on his throne, saying, “That was wrong.”
When we are sinned against, we have two choices (no matter how big the offense):
Bitterness or Forgiveness.
That’s it. There’s no third option.


Who is it that you are bitter against, or potentially bitter against? Who has sinned against you? Whose face comes into your mind’s eye? Whose name comes into your mind? Who has offended you, betrayed you, abandoned you, violated you, disappointed you. Who has HURT you?

Who do you blame for your bitterness?

The bible actually counts it a blessing to overlook an offense:

Proverbs 19:11 - Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Paul gives 6 commands that help to end the cycle of bitterness. Who do you need to forgive, and who needs to forgive you? Forgive, because God in Christ forgave you.
What tends to happen is when we have been sinned against—we have been victimized—we tend to justify our bitterness. We say, “But they made me bitter. Here’s what they did.” But, no one can make you bitter. They’re responsible for their sin, but you’re responsible for your 
bitterness.

Amy Carmichael, a gifted missionary, said “For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot even spill one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.” This is your heart. Someone sins against you all that comes out is what’s already in. If there’s bitterness - they’re going to expose it.

If there’s sweet water in your soul, and someone sins against you, they’re exposing, not changing, what is in your soul. You can’t say, “I was only sweet water, and then they bumped me, and all the water became bitter.” No, all the jolting, and sinning, and conflicting does is reveal, not change, who we are. If it’s bitter, it’s because we are choosing bitterness. If it’s sweet, it’s because we’re choosing sweetness. What’s in your heart? What’s in your soul? Sweetness or bitterness?


Cycle of bitterness:
Yields ‘unrighteous’ fruit


SIX COMMANDS FOR BITTER BELIEVERS

Ephesians 4:25–29: So then, get rid of lies. Speak the truth to each other, because we are all members of the same body. Be angry without sinning. Don’t go to bed angry. 27 Don’t give the devil any opportunity to work. Thieves must quit stealing and, instead, they must work hard. They should do something good with their hands so that they’ll have something to share with those in need.  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.


1.    WATCH YOUR GOSSIP
When we’re hurt, we’re prone to leak. Jesus tells us, “Let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor— if you think they sinned against you - go work it out with “them”. Gossip is when we talk about people; we don’t talk with them.

Gossip: Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.
o   Social media: biggest opportunity to gossip as quickly and widely as possible. You can post—Facebook, Twitter, texts, phones.
o   Prayer chain gossip: “Please pray for ____. He/she is a ‘blank.’ Or please pray for___ can you believe they said/did that! That is a gossip prayer request. Play it safe, put in an “unspoken” prayer request. Less details, the better. God knows the situation; everyone else doesn’t need to know.


Proverbs 26:20: “Without wood, a fire goes out.
Without gossip, a quarrel dies down.”

When we’re hurt, we want a big fire. We want everybody to see it. We want people to gather around our fire in the darkness, so we could leak and vent and gossip with them. We want a blaze!
God’s people are to bring water to the fire, not wood. Gossip is just dry kindling.

2.   WATCH YOUR EMOTIONS
“Be angry and do not sin.” Exodus 34:6 - God describes himself as “A God who is slow to anger.” God has a long wick. God’s not always on the threshold of eruption. By the power of the Holy Spirit, you and I need to be like that. 


3.   WATCH YOUR CLOCK
“Do not let the sun go down on your anger.”  Don’t let things extend or delay. Take time to pray, journal, think things through, but don’t wait days, months, and years; it’s like untreated cancer in the soul when left that long. Some fear conflict so you choose bitterness over conflict. Talk about itresolve it.

4.   WATCH YOUR ENEMY

“Watch your enemy - Give no opportunity to the devil.” Secular psychology/counseling will not include Satan and demons when dealing with bitterness, strain-relationships, or forgiveness – but the bible does. The bible says Satan and demons hate God and his people; which means they love it when God’s people shoot one another. Saves Satan a bullet, AND it publicly damages the reputation of Jesus.   Demons get their foothold in the church, our families, and our relationships through bitterness.

5.   WATCH YOUR HANDS

“…doing honest work with your hands.” What do you do with your hands when you’re bitter? Do you punch something? Do you shove someone? Do you grab someone? Do you throw something? Do you slam a door? Do you jump in a car? Do you slam it into gear and speed away? What do you do with your hands? Do something constructive, not destructive. It’s devastating what people do with their hands when they’re bitter… you grab your phone, grab your laptop, and declare war!

6.   WATCH YOUR MOUTH

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths.” Bitter people tend to rewrite, revise history. “I will omit these details that paint me in a negative light. I will emphasize these details that paint them in a negative light. And I will not speak the whole truth.”


Who do you need to forgive and who needs to forgive you? Search your heart – make a list – and reconcile.
Actions I must take – People I must forgive and ask for forgiveness:
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


The blessings of forgiveness
·     When we forgive, it opens us up to God's forgiveness (Matthew 6:15)
·     Puts us in a receiving position when we pray (Mark 11:24, 25),
·     Helps us become spiritually fruitful (John 15:10, 12, 5)
·     We know we have passed from spiritual death to life when we love each other (1 John 3:14)!
·     When we keep God's commandments and love one another, we prove that we love Jesus (John 14:21), and we abide in Christ's love (John 15:10)!

“Whenever two people disagree or get into a conflict, there is a chance to either allow it to destroy the relationship, to grow bitter/indifferent toward each other, or to become even closer after the conflict... much closer than before! Forgiving each other, bearing each other's weaknesses, overseeing faults, asking for forgiveness and easily forgive... It is only because of pride and a lack of love that the latter seems so difficult to achieve. Let us love, forgive, be humble and seek how to improve. When I look back at my mistakes and see when I have wronged others, I can only plead for mercy and knowing how much Christ forgave/forgives me, it becomes an easy task to forgive others also. How many times do I fail to love others because I forget about Christ's love for me.” – Eleana Bauhman