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The Bitter Pill of Forgiveness (2014)

posted Sep 21, 2014, 5:33 AM by Website Administrator   [ updated Sep 21, 2014, 5:36 AM ]
September 21, 2014                 
Key Passage: Genesis 45:1-15

“The Bitter Pill of Forgiveness”

Thesis: The peace and joy Jesus promises, that defies human logic, is directly correlated to our ability to forgive.

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.  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 repeatedly 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.

Private forgiveness should take place immediately; public forgiveness may take a while … 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 long before then.  Joseph never could have risen to the second in command in Egypt if he’d had bitterness, anger, and unresolved forgiveness.  Chapter 45 is but a manifestation of forgiveness from long ago.

Forgiveness isn’t contingent on the attitude / acceptance of the offending party … We’d all like to believe that we don’t have to forgive unless a person requests it.  The bible tells us to forgive because it’s the right thing to do … not because the other person is sorry, and not because they deserve it.  To that end …

“Forgive and forget” is only possible if the other person accepts the forgiveness … Here’s truth: forgiveness is a matter of grace, not works, and grace doesn’t make demands upon the one who receives it. Of course, just like grace freely given, forgiveness may be rejected (“Father, forgive them; for they don’t know what they’re doing.”); however, when accepted, it’s possible to actually “forgive and forget.”

Realize that action comes before feeling … human nature dictates that it’s easier to forgive in action than feeling … which means we must be the first to make the first move, place the call, write the note, etc.

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.  Listen, it can be brutal to forgive, but our joy and peace in life is directly correlate and contingent on our ability to forgive.  It you can’t seem to find joy and peace, it’s probably time to do a forgiveness inventory.  My hope is each of us will take the time this week to search our hearts, and extend forgiveness right now …