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The Bitter Pill of Forgiveness (2009)

posted Aug 26, 2009, 7:18 PM by Website Administrator   [ updated Sep 21, 2014, 5:36 AM ]
“If we practice an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, soon the whole world will be blind and toothless.”

Near a town in the state of Washington, millions of gallons of radioactive atomic waste are being stored in huge underground tanks. The tanks have a life expectancy of 20 – 30 years; the wastes within them will remain deadly for about 600 years. We live in a society which, like those tanks, is trying to store up anger that sooner or later is going to break out, causing pain and misery for many. Proof? Take a look at the You Tube video of the girls that lured a 16 year old to their home and then proceeded to beat her for the video entertainment of their friends….or the dozens of copycats that have popped up since. While it is not the solution to every instance of anger, the ability to forgive is the answer to much, if not most, of the anger we experience in life. The Bible tells us that we have been forgiven a great debt…we have experienced what it means to be set free…so we should extend that grace to others. I know this is difficult to hear but I believe it’s true: we don’t forgive, because we don’t appreciate what we have been forgiven. We often times feel that what others have done to us is worse than what we have done to God. Maybe it would be better said this way: we don’t forgive because we haven’t grasped the serious nature of our offense against God. No character in the drama of the book of Genesis better illustrates the fundamentals of forgiveness than Joseph, and no chapter more clearly defines the essentials of forgiveness than chapter 45…

Genesis 45:1-15 The Keys to Forgiveness

• The key to forgiveness is your attitude …The Bible calls bitterness a root (Hebrews 12:15), and as you know, a root is easier to pull out when you don’t let it grow and deepen for years. When someone wrongs you, you have a choice to make. Joseph made a choice before God to forgive his brothers and to trust God to deal with them and to right the wrongs. God is the one who will see that justice is done. Every sin will be paid for, either by the person who committed the sin, or by the blood of Jesus. Leave justice to God!

• The key to your attitude is submitting yourself to the sovereign God … One of the most noticeable traits of Joseph throughout these chapters is the centrality of God in his life. He CONSTANTLY credits God, including the seemingly bad things that happened (to his brothers, he said, “it was not you who sent me here, but God.”) So often, even for Christians, God is a part of their lives, but He’s not at the center. He is a spoke in the wheel of life, but He’s not the hub. But for Joseph, EVERYTHING centered on God.

1. Biblical forgiveness should be granted quickly – Make no mistake, there’s absolutely NO WAY Joseph forgave his brothers for the first time here in chapter 45…22 years after they sold him into slavery. No, he forgave them immediately 22 years prior. You can’t maintain hope, treat people fairly, be patient, and give God glory if there’s bitterness and unresolved anger in your heart. Chapter 45 is but a manifestation of forgiveness from long ago.
2. Biblical forgiveness should be granted privately – As dearly as Joseph was loved, what do you think would have become of his brothers if he’d “forgiven” them in front of Pharaoh or his Egyptian servants? Wisdom and discernment dictates that forgiveness be a private matter (see also Matthew 18:15)
3. Biblical forgiveness must be given freely and unconditionally – Here’s truth…forgiveness is a matter of grace, not works, and grace doesn’t make demands upon the one who receives it (Thank you, Lord, for that!) Of course, just like grace freely given, forgiveness may be rejected (“Father, forgive them; for they don’t know what they’re doing.”)
4. Biblical forgiveness seeks the correction and restoration of the offender – Forgiveness seeks the best interest of another, even at our own expense; however, since we seek the good of the other party, correction may be required. The forgiveness of our sins assures us that God is rightly related to us, but discipline causes us to draw more closely to him.

Bottom Line: Finally, let’s never forget that forgiveness is NOT an option; it’s a commandment (Matthew 6:14-15)
Jesus said “if you love me, you’ll obey my commands.” What a joke to gladly accept Jesus’ forgiveness and then not extend that same forgiveness to others. Thomas Watson wrote, “We don’t need to climb up into heaven to see whether our sins are forgiven. Just look into your heart and see if you can forgive others. If you can, you need not doubt that God has forgiven you.” Take the opportunity this week to extend forgiveness to someone who needs it!
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Phillipians 2:1-11