The Thing Week 2: Unforgiveness
Everybody throughout their lives deals with a thing. It’s there. You can’t always see it, but you can feel it. It never really goes away. You can try to put it on the top shelf, hide it under the bed, throw it in the back of the closet, and yet this thing never seems to disappear. Why is it so hard to move on? Why does it feel like an impossible mountain to climb? Are we destined to be stuck in these recurring nightmares forever? Let’s unpack this together. Let’s find a way forward. What’s your thing?
Well, good morning to everybody, and good morning also to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. We’re in a series called The Thing. And most of you all know I like to sort of do a little bit of summary and recap as to what we’re doing, because I know there’s always visitors, there’s people that miss a week, and then, you know, just for all of us it’s a good thing to remember what we’re doing.
So, we’re talking about the areas of our lives, and all of us have it at some level, where there seems to be something that we have that occurs on a regular basis. Something that we would rather not do. Maybe it’s we get angry at this, or we get frustrated at that. Or maybe it’s we have a fight with our spouse over the same things on a regular basis. Maybe we have an addiction. Maybe we have some issues with lust. Maybe we have some problems with finances. Or maybe we just get in bad relationships over and over and over again. And we all go, “I want to get better at this.”
And, as a pastor, and as something who talks to people, and as someone who’s lived life themselves, I realize this is a real issue in church. Back in the day, we used to call this sanctification. How do you become more like Jesus? And the fact of the matter is that many people struggle with these same things over and over again.
And here’s the way it goes in church. You’ve got, usually, two ways in which people come at this problem, and neither one of them solve it. You’ve got people who go, “You need to go to more small groups. You need to pray more, or read more, or do this more, or put some Wesson oil on your head. Step backwards a couple of times.” Whatever you do. And they try and try and try and try and try. It’s not going to work.
Or somebody comes along and goes, “Hey, I got this ultra secret book that it’ll tell you everything that you need to know to understand. Or this DVD. If you could just understand grace a little bit more, it’ll solve all the problems.” And none of them solve the problems, because we keep doing the same things over and over and over again.
And so, as a pastor, I’m tired of watching people not live out a victorious life, and not being able to give equipping to people when the Bible’s so clear that we should be people that walk in victory. The Bible’s so clear that we should be people that live lives of ethics and morals. The Bible’s so clear that we ought to be people that really look like Jesus. And yet, we struggle.
You know, some people go, “Oh, well don’t tell anybody that, because then you’re having to do too much stuff, or whatever.” Or somebody comes along and says, “Just rest in this, and do this, or whatever.” The fact of the matter is, I’ve not met too many people that don’t struggle with things in their life. No matter where they come from, and what theological persuasion, or biblical persuasion, or spiritual persuasion the come from. And I think it’s because we might be addressing it in a wrong way.
And that’s the whole background of this series. I truly, as your pastor, when I read Ephesians 4, and it says God put people in the church, apostles, and prophets, and evangelists, and pastors, and teachers to equip saints so that they can work ministry. I take that for real. I think that we need to be people that can do the things that God’s called us to do. And often times we are hindered by secret things in our lives.
And then, what happens in the church, because we all like to put on sometimes the facade, and we don’t want anybody to know that we’re struggling, we just deal with these things alone, by our self, and it keeps coming up. It’s this thing that we see regularly. We put it in the closet. And then all of a sudden we walk into the bedroom, and there it is right in front of us like it hasn’t gone away. And we don’t know what to do. And so, I want to help you out.
And I think one of the biggest things to understand in living out this Christian life is this simple truth. The thing that we think is the thing, is usually not the thing. And you say, “Well, what do you mean by that? What does that mean for me?” What I’d like to say to you is is the things that we focus on, whatever that thing is that you’re struggling with, it is probably a symptom of something else. It is a fruit of another root in your life, and if we’re not dealing with the cause, and we’re not dealing with the root, it doesn’t make a difference what we pray, how we talk about it, what we believe. We’re not going to see these things go away.
And so, I feel like we need to talk and have a dialogue about this thing that we call the thing. And many of us know we got them, and they’re stuff we deal with on a regular basis, and we want to get rid of it and we want to move on.
And so, it took me a while. I’ve been studying Scripture for a long time. It took me a long time to realize, because I’ve gone on both sides. I’ve done the pray more, pray more, pray more, pray more, read more, read more, read more, read more. And that didn’t seem to work. And then I’ve done the just sort of sit in grace, sit in grace, sit in grace, sit in grace. And it didn’t help me any either. And neither one of them were helping me out. I felt better over here with grace, because at least I wasn’t feeling like I was a scum all the time. But the fact of the matter is that I still had these areas in my life that were not coming out.
And you read Scripture all the time, and Paul’s like, “Man, you can walk this thing out. You can do this thing. You can live this thing.” And it dawned on me that so many times in Scripture, and I don’t know why it took so long, that Jesus when He deals with something is not the thing that the people thought needed to be dealt with. He deals with something behind that thing.
And I’ll give you an example here of a passage of Scripture in Mark 2. It says, “When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home.”
Now, Jesus has gone away for a little while, and He’s come back to Capernaum, and He’s in a house. These houses are not very big. These houses are actually really, really small. You might could have got 20 or 30 people inside the house at most. Forty if you really, really were cramming it in. But they were small houses. And people in Capernaum, this village, they hear that Jesus is back in the village. He’s home.
And so, what do they do? Well, they come to see him. It says, “Many were gathered together so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them.”
See, they knew about Jesus. They knew that Jesus could heal people. They knew that Jesus spoke words that people had never heard. And so, the villagers come, and they come inside the house. They want to hear Jesus talk. He’s talking to them. They filled up the whole interior of the house. Now, they’re standing outside of the door. There’s no room at all.
And then, Mark wants us to see, because it’s emphatic in the original language, he says, “And they came.”
In other words, he set up a situation, and now here’s some people that are coming. And what are they doing? Well, they’re bringing to him a paralytic, somebody who can’t move, who’s immobilized, carried by four men.
So, these four men got this, probably, piece of wood, or cot, or bed, and they’re carrying him along. Could be a sheet. Who knows what it is? But they’re carrying him along. Four on each corner of this rectangular thing, while this guy’s laying there and he can’t move.
And so, they come up on the house here, and it says, “And when they could not get near him because of the crowd…” — In other words, they walked up. They couldn’t get passed the crowd. So, what did they do? They could have left. They could have just left him there. They could have taken off. They could have done a lot of things. But no, they improvise. What they did is, — “They removed the roof…” — They climbed up on the roof. They got up on the roof and they removed, the original language is they dug through, they dug through… — “…the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.”
Can you imagine being there? Can you imagine a small group study? Jesus doing a Kay Arthur thing, or something? They didn’t have that back then. But anyways, doing a small group, and they got the chips and dips, and all the stuff. Tostitos and Sargento cheese, and everything. It was probably mashed potatoes and gravy, because this is southern Israel.
Anyways, so they’re doing their thing. Jesus is talking, and all this stuff. And all of a sudden, the roof. They start digging through the roof. And you know that stuff’s falling on everybody. I mean, it’s like mud, and thatch, and stuff hitting people. And they’re like, “What’s up?” You know? “Breaking and entering.” You know, or whatever it was.
And so, they do that, and all of a sudden here comes this bed into the house. Can you imagine that scene? That would have been crazy, wouldn’t it? I mean, crazy.
Now, some of you like the Bible. You’re nerds like me. Let me just give you a cool little Bible thing. I don’t want anybody to walk out of here and go, “I didn’t get any cool Bible stuff today.” Let me show you some cool Bible stuff. Mark, in the way he’s written this, has reenacted a funeral scene. See, they’re carrying the guy like pallbearers, and then they dig through the mud and the ground, and they lower him into the grave. And then, what does he do? He meets Jesus in the grave, and Jesus says rise. Resurrection power for the dead. It’s so cool. It’s really neat stuff. I can’t preach on that today, but it’s really neat stuff.
So anyway, they remove the roof above. They did this stuff. Paralytic comes down. He’s there on the ground, “…and when Jesus saw their faith…” — He looks up. The roof probably wasn’t any higher than this here. He looks up, sees them, and he says to the paralytic. And you know what He’s going to say, right? I mean, He’s going to say, “You’re healed.” Because that’s the thing. The thing is he’s a paralytic. He can’t move.
So, Jesus looks up, looks at the paralytic, and He says, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
You know those guys up top are like, “Dude, we just like dug through the roof. We wanted the Jesus thing where the guy gets healed.” And they’re probably going, “Can He even forgive sins? What’s this all about?”
See, the Bible doesn’t always say that because you and I have sin in our life that it also leads to sickness. We know that because John 9. There’s a guy born blind, and the disciples asked who sinned. Was it his mom? Dad? Him? Jesus is like, “Nobody sinned.”
So, sickness and sin are not always tied together, but many times they are. Jesus realizes that this paralytic’s desperate need, his thing, is not to be healed of his paralysis. The desperate thing this guy needs is he needs to be forgiven. And when he’s forgiven it then moves to where Jesus can say, “You can be healed now, and move on.” Because the thing that everybody thought was the thing, the fact that he’s paralyzed, wasn’t the thing. The most important thing was that he got his sins forgiven.
And you start reading Scripture and you see this over and over again, where Jesus is always doing something that’s behind the scenes to alleviate the things that everybody thinks that are the most important stuff. And that’s what we’re trying to do in this particular series.
I believe, we’re praying and doing things on things that aren’t things. They’re things, don’t get me wrong. They’re real things, but they’re not the thing. And the reason we’re not getting better’s not because we don’t know a theological truth, or we don’t know what the Bible says about this, or we don’t know how to pray more. It’s that we’re just not dealing with the right thing.
I mean, Jesus talks about that all the time. You’ve got to pray for the right things. You’ve got to know what you’re praying for. You’ve got to know this stuff.
And so, what I want to do is I want to talk to you today about a major, major, major cause of many of our things. In fact, one minister that’s been doing ministry for years, and you would know his name if I told you, he said, “When I first started ministry, I would have thought maybe 10 or 15 percent of the problems that people have was related to this issue. It wasn’t but about five years in I realized it was at least 50 percent.” He said, “And now that I’ve been doing this for a long time,” he said, “I can tell you 90 to 95 percent of all the symptoms people have in their lives is because of this particular thing.”
And what is that particular thing, you might ask?
It’s unforgiveness. It’s not forgiving people for things that they’ve done against you and me. And that’s tough. It’s tough to forgive. It’s tough when somebody’s done us wrong. It’s tough when we got fired at thing, or we had a wife walk out on us, or a husband walk out on us, or a dad that didn’t love us, or a mom that didn’t do it. It’s tough. I mean, it’s tough.
You want to know how tough it is? Saul and Ethel, this wonderful couple, Saul did something really, really bad to Ethel. Can’t say it at 10:15. I can say it at Saturday night, because they’re a little less sanctified. But did some really bad stuff to her, and she just flat got on him for it.
And he said, “I’m sorry.”
And she said, “I forgive you.” She said, “It’s the motto of my life. Forgive and forget.”
And he’s like, “Thank you so much.”
Well, about every month she’d bring it back up. Well, after ten years Saul’s like, “Man, I’m tired of living this thing.” Finally, he says, “Honey, we got to have a talk.”
She’s like, “What about?”
He’s like, “Well, you remember that thing I did?”
“You told me that your motto was forgive and forget. What’s up?”
She’s like, “It is, honey.” She says, “I didn’t want you to forget that I had forgiven and forgotten, right?”
Come on now. It’s true. It’s hard to forgive.
So, here’s what I want to talk about this weekend here with everybody at Grace: This truth lesson. We need to realize, all of us collectively, all of us need to realize that unforgiveness is a very common (not like an outlier) a very common root or cause of the thing. Whatever that may be.
And let me show you what this looks like in terms of a diagram. Typically, we deal with these. These are symptoms. This is a cause. And we’re dealing with these things.
For instance, depression. I’m not telling you that all depression is related to unforgiveness, but I can tell you that a lot of depression is related to unforgiveness. We’re going to talk about all of these things, okay?
How about this here. Anger. Anger.
And what we’ll do is we’d say, “You know, we need to pray for anger. Brother bless God. Be angry and sin not.” We’ll quote Scripture. We’ll tell them, “You rest. Come to me, you who are weary, heavy-laden. I’ll give you rest.” And we’ll do that thing.
No. No. No. We’re not dealing with the thing. We’re dealing with a thing, but not the thing.
How about this one here? Sickness.
How about this one? Anxiety.
And I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking, “Man, there ain’t no way in the world anxiety is related to unforgiveness. That’s crazy. I’d love for you to be able to show me that.”
Glad you asked. Let me show you how that works. Okay so, anxiety. We bring it into Bible study. You know what I’m talking about? We bring it into small group. We go, “Man, I’m so anxious. I’m just so anxious.”
And people will be like, “Just rest in the Lord. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Just come to the Lord. Cast all your cares on Him. Be still and know that He’s God.”
And you’re thinking, “But I’m still anxious. They’ve prayed for me. They’ve even put Wesson oil on my head. It didn’t work.” You know, all that good stuff.
And you start talking to people, you start praying, and you start really looking at this stuff. Anxiety’s not the thing.
“Just rest in Jesus. Just do…”
No. Anxiety’s not the thing. That’s not going to solve the problem. The thing, we keep talking, is the need to control now.
What do you…? So, hold on. Yeah. I want to control my life, and I can’t control my life. I want to control, and I can’t control. I can’t control all the things that are going on. And what it does is it makes me anxious.
Well, why do you want to control so much? Well, because I’ve been deeply hurt and deeply wounded. And I don’t want to ever have that happen to me again. So, I want to control so I don’t get hurt. So, I don’t get wounded. And that leads to anxiety.
Well, what happened? Well, I had a really bad relationship that went sour. And then, by the time you get to there you realize that there’s unforgiveness. And that anxiety that we’re trying to deal with, and pray about, and tell everybody to read this book, and watch this DVD, that’s not what the thing is. The thing is this. And this has to be dealt with.
Now, listen. I want to show you another way, because I like to use things that you can understand. I know you guys watch people on TV, and they have big budgets for props. We don’t. I had 13 cents. So, this is what I’m going to do. I’ll show you how this works. Okay.
You’re sick, okay? Now, you may just need to get well. You just may need to go to a doctor and get some medicine and be better. But some people, they bring the thing, sickness, to the small group, or to prayer meeting, or wherever. I’m sick.
People go, “Okay, in Jesus’ name we’re going to heal you.”
Okay, well hold on for a second. “Sir? Ma’am? You’re thing here is sickness. Why do you feel like you’re so sick?”
“Well, you know, I’m sick a lot.”
“Really? Do you think there’s anything that might be…”
“Well, yeah. I am stressed out.”
And then we do, “In Jesus’ name. Stress.” Whatever.
No. “You’re stressed out. Okay. Well, what are you stressed out about? What’s stressing you so much?”
“Well, what’s stressing me so much is three months ago I lost my job, and I’m worried about my finances. And it’s stressing me out, and I’m sick a lot. Because that scum that I worked for, that guy, that person who did me wrong, has put me in this position.”
And now we have the thing. Unforgiveness. Now we have this.
Can I just… It’s a little early. It’s still 10:15. At 11:30 I can get wound up a little bit. I’m going to not preach too hard here, but let me say to you here that when you allow someone like this to have that much control over your life, you’re missing the most important thing that I can tell you as your pastor. This guy and your job is not what provides for your finances. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who says I will supply all your needs, according to My riches in glory. And you can forgive this person, and move on.
And so, what we do is when we forgive, all of a sudden all these other symptoms, they go away. Instead of treating the thing here, this thing, we’re treating this thing and getting it to work.
So, I hope that makes a little sense there. And I hope you understand what I’m talking about. And so, let’s continue on, because here’s what you should be thinking at this point. You should be going, “Alright, you’re right. Unforgiveness can really be something that hold me down. Uncle. I got it. I got some things in my life. You’re right. Uncle. You’re right. I got it. But what I need now, Chip, and I need it really bad, is I need some practical/ applicational/ and informational help. Can you give me some things that’ll maybe help me before somebody does me wrong? And what happens when I’m in the middle of it, and whatever else?”
Yeah, there’s a Greek word for that. It is “practi-appli-formational” help. There you go. So, that’s what we’re going to do from here on.
And right before we get there, I want to tell you a little story here that I think’s important.
Alan Reeser, who’s one of our board members, was here last night. Him and Linda are celebrating 46 years of wedding bliss. They’re great people. They’re awesome people. And yeah, they’re fantastic people. Yay, 46 years. Like three people are like, “Yeah, alright. Yeah.” That’s where we’re at in America, isn’t it? “Forty-six years. Alright man.”
Anyway, here’s what Alan said. Alan said to me, “That was great.” He says, “I remember back when I was doing the homeless ministry,” and I worked with Alan in the homeless ministry back when I was a teenager. He said, “I realized about 95 percent of the homeless people were living in unforgiveness.”
And he said, “I would tell them a story on a regular basis about a backpack. That they put a backpack on their back, okay? And backpacks, there’s nothing to it. But along the way somebody would pull in front of them in traffic, and they’d get made and put a little piece of sand in that backpack.
Somebody would do something here. Put a little piece of sand in that backpack. Then, something would happen at work, and it’d be a pebble in that backpack. Then, somebody would go through a divorce, and it’d be a big boulder in that backpack. Then, dad would do somebody wrong. Big boulder in the backpack. Somebody would do something here. A little piece of sand.”
Before long, that backpack is really heavy. It’s really heavy, and you’re carrying that around in your life. And what happens is that often times we come to Jesus. We have that backpack, and what we do is we go, “It’s great. Jesus has forgiven me, and all that good stuff. And I’m going to forgive everybody else, and whatever.” But we’re accustomed to wearing that backpack.
And we may move forward in our lives, and not put a whole lot more rocks and sand in that backpack as we go forward, but we’re still carrying that backpack. And the only way that backpack’s going to get cleaned out is you got to take it out, and you got to start dealing with some of those rocks and those pieces of sand that are in there to lighten that load.
And it’s true. And I’ll give you a personal example here. And I know we’re being recorded, and so I want to make sure that I am very particular here, because I don’t want to hurt anybody or create any issues because some people who watch these things… I mean, we got people all over the world watching these things. I don’t want to say anything that would implicate anybody.
But when I was a young person, and I was in my early 20s. Some of y’all didn’t even think I was that old, but I am. This was probably 25 years ago. I worked at a church of about three thousand people, and I was a minister on staff. And what was going on in the church is there was a pastor that was having an affair with a secretary.
And I was brand new, you know? Doing the best I could. Trying to do the Jesus thing. Trying to love God. I knew that was wrong, but I didn’t know… What do you do, you know? I was just trying to do my deal. I was trying to stay in my lane. And I got called in, and the staff, except for me, was all family members. They called me in, they’re like, “Are you on our team?”
And I’m like, “Um, I’m on Jesus’ team.”
They’re like, “But are…”
I’m like, “Yeah, I’m not going to go out with a sign out front and do that, or say anything. But I mean, if you’re asking me if I’m supportive of this… No.”
Well, they fired me. And it stuck for a while. I mean, I was bitter, you know? I remember it was several years ago, but I called up this man because I knew he was going to be retiring. And I said, “I want you to know I’ve held some things against you for a long time.”
And it took him a minute to even remember who I was. That’s how insignificant in his life I was. And that was fine. I realized that. But to me it was a big deal, and I carried that. And I said, “I forgive you.”
And it’s interesting, a lot of the things that I dealt with, and a lot of the things that I struggled with went away when I was able to say, “Hey, I forgive you. Let’s move on.”
And so, what I want to do is I want to help you get to the place in your life where you can forgive, and you can move on. And you’ll see a lot of the symptoms, a lot of the things that you’re dealing with that don’t seem to go away, it’s because you’re not dealing with the real thing. The thing that you think the thing is not really the thing. There’s something back here.
So, I’m going to give you some help, some practical help, some ways to deal with unforgiveness. And some of them are going to be before it ever happens to you. Some of it’s going to be while you’re in it. But I’m going to give you a lot of stuff here that you can take home hopefully.
So, if you take notes, this is the time to get out your notepad, or your iPad, or whatever, and write these things down.
The first thing that I want us to understand is this: Offenses are going to come.
You say, well, that’s self-intuitive. No, it’s not, because when somebody does you wrong, the first thing you say to guys like me is this, “I can’t believe that happened.”
See, you didn’t think it was coming, because you couldn’t believe it happened. Might be better if you said, “I can’t believe it’s taken this long for it to get here.”
You say, “Well, come one, Chip. That seems a little…”
No, it’s not, because let me give you this revelational truth that you and I need to take home, put in our back pocket.
People can only deliver on the level of their capacity.
If I give you an iPhone that’s broken and say, “Could you post on Facebook today that you were at church?”
You go, “It won’t do it. It’s broken.”
Yeah, because it can only deliver to the level of its capacity. It can’t do something that it can’t do. And so, listen to me, and hear me well. There’s not one person in this room that has it all together. There’s only one person that ever lived that had it all together, and His name was Jesus. If you’re Hispanic, it was Jesus.
But that’s who He was. He was Jesus, and Jesus lived a perfect life. We don’t.
Now, His righteousness and His perfection is put on us when we believe in Him, but we’re not perfect yet. We haven’t arrived yet. We’re still in process. We still live in a fallen world. We live in between the now and the not yet. And that’s such a conundrum.
That’s why Paul could say in one epistle, “You’ve put off the old man, and put on the new man.”
And then he could say in another epistle, “You need to put off the old man, and put on the new man.”
And people go, “Wow. How does that make sense?”
Because we live in a tension here.
Listen, people are broken. So, if you understand people are broken, guess what people are going to do? They’re going to let you down. They’re going to hurt you. And guess what you’re going to do? You’re going to hurt other people. Listen, you’re going to hurt your wife. Your wife’s going to hurt you. You’re going to hurt your husband. Your husbands going to hurt you.
I can tell you, people at church are going to hurt you. People that you know are going to hurt. I’m going to hurt my kids. I know my kids are going to hurt me, because they’re a bunch of sinners. And so, there’s a lot of things that… I’m just telling you. It’s just the way it is. We’re broken. And we can only deliver on the level of our capacity.
On top of that, you may be a cup, and they may be a quarter cup. A quarter cup cannot deliver a cup. It can only deliver up to the level of its capacity. And if you’re expecting a 10-foot boat to operate like a 27-foot boat, you’re going to be disappointed.
Understand before any offense comes, before anybody’s done you wrong, before anybody’s hurt you, or any of that stuff, understand people can only deliver on the level of their capacity. Which means, offenses are going to come. Which means, you can manage that expectation before it ever comes your way.
And here’s another really good thing to know is this. Is that they usually don’t start (whoever’s done something wrong to you, or if you’ve done something wrong to them) usually it didn’t start off with the mindset of doing harm or hurting you and me. They were just weak.
Now, if you’ve been in a situation where for five years y’all been doing the Hatfield and McCoy, well then yeah. You might be doing things to hurt each other, and you’re just being wicked.
But my point is that most people, when they had a spouse that cheated on them, or they had a guy that took money from their business, or they did something to this person, or they cheated their person, or they couldn’t get this together, it wasn’t because they set out that morning and said, “What I’m going to do is I’m going to hurt that person.” No, they were just weak, because people can only deliver up to the capacity that they can.
And when we start giving that grace to everybody, realizing that people are going to fail us, it will take the sting of the offense out of our lives before we get it. That’s why Jesus said, “Hey, if you don’t have any sin at all, anybody without sin, if you don’t have any sin…”
It’s funny. I hear Christians all go, “I ain’t got no sin.”
You’re crazy. You got plenty of it. In Jesus, no. But in your life, yes. You do.
“Anybody without sin, without sin, no sin at all, throw the stone.”
Why does He say that? Because people may sin differently than you and me, but we shouldn’t hold that against them because they sin differently that you and me. That’s important to understand before we get all bent out of shape. This is some proactive things. This some preventative things. Understand people are going to fail you, and you’re going to fail them. That’ll help you understand how to deal with some of this stuff when it happens.
Second thing I would tell you is this: Realize that unforgiveness isn’t a protector. It’s a prison.
Here’s what we do. We do, “I got hurt. This person hurt me. So, what I’m going to do. If I forgive them they can hurt me again. So, I’m going to keep that wall. I’m going to keep that protection up, because that way they can’t hurt me again.”
The only person who’s in prison with that wall that you’ve just built is you and me. They’re not driving University thinking about what they did. They’re listening to their song that they like, just singing and thinking about going to a movie. You’re not even on their thought. Like when I called up that minister. He’s like, “Um… Oh yeah, I remember you.” You know, he wasn’t the… I was. The only person in prison was me.
Because unforgiveness isn’t a protector. It’s a prison. You and I are the only ones held by our unforgiveness. And we can debate all day long theologically. We can get in an argument. We can fight. We can roll on the floor, and whatever, about what this Scripture means. But at the very least it means it’s not good to live in unforgiveness. “If you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
I can tell you at the very least that’s not a good place to be is living a life of unforgiveness.
And I’ve said it in this room before, I’ve said it to many of you all before, and it’s just the best story that I got. Corrie ten Boom watched her sister get raped brutally in the Holocaust at the concentration camp. After the war was over, she got up and preached a message about salvation, telling people that Jesus loved them.
And as she was going through the crowd of people that were coming up front to respond to her message, she looked up and there was one of the soldiers that had raped her sister. She was furious. She was enraged. Until she realized the only person in prison was her, because of her inability to unforgive. And she laid it down right then.
It’s not a protector. It’s a prison.
Third thing I’ll tell you. Realize that unforgiveness doesn’t stay where it started.
This is huge, because what we do is we go, “Well, yeah but I had this relationship with this guy or this girl, and it didn’t go right. And I’ve got that wall up. And I understand I don’t like them, but it’s just compartmentalized. It’s just between…”
No, it’s not. For unforgiveness is like a poison. It’s like a cancer. It just spreads everywhere. It doesn’t stay where it started. It goes into your spirituality, into your health, into your marriage, into relationships, into your mentality, your attitude, your family. It spreads everywhere.
And before long, that thing that you think that you only got with this person, the person then you start dating or you start getting married with, or whatever, they’re doing the same thing. And you’re like five times more hostile to them in that particular situation than you should be. And they’re like, “Whoa, what’s going on?”
It’s because that unforgiveness that you have on somebody else has spread into other relationships. And that’s what it does. It does not stay where it started. It spreads. It’s like a cancer.
In fact, some of you maybe go, “Okay, Jesus thing. I came here First Friday. I’m not really sure about all that stuff. Y’all had some cool rides. You seemed like you were a nice guy, so I showed up today just to hang out and see what… I’m not really sure about all the claims of God, and everything else.”
Okay, forget all that stuff. Let’s talk about doctors. You know, doctors with the stethoscope, you know? The ones that you go into, and they do that doctor stuff. Listen to what the doctors say. This is doctors. This isn’t Chip. This isn’t Jesus. This is doctors. Doctors say this, “Sixty-one percent of cancer patients carry unforgiveness.”
In fact, they have a chart. Some of y’all are a lot smarter than I am. Some of y’all are doctors, and you’ll know this chart. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I just know it’s called the six stages of cancer, and it starts off with traumatic stress stuff, which is unforgiveness, and it leads to cancer. This is what it looks like. See, prolonged psycho-emotional stress, and now down here to cancer.
I grew up in a Pentecostal church. I think I heard cell mitochondria DNA mutations one time, and somebody translated it. But the deal here is that this shows you here… I mean, depletes adrenaline, and all this stuff leading to cancer. This is serious. This is…
God bless you. This is serious stuff.
I can multitask. I’m telling you. ADHD. Man, I can… Squirrel.
Listen to what the doctors say. You know the Mayo Clinic? That’s not where they make Hellmann’s mayonnaise. That’s where there’s doctors and nurses that get together. The Mayo Clinic, listen to what they say. They say, “If you and I live a life of forgiveness towards other these are the benefits. Healthier relationships.
I’ve never met anybody that goes, “I’m just going to live in unforgiveness, because I just don’t want to have any healthy relationship. I can’t stand those things.”
No, they don’t. So, healthier relationship.
Listen to this. Greater spiritual well-being. Less anxiety. Less stress.
It’s like, who doesn’t want this?
Speaking of stress, this minister was in town. He had circles the block ten times looking for a place to park. There was no place to park. So, he pulled into an area that he shouldn’t have parked. And he gets out, gets a sheet of paper. He says, I’m a minister. I love God. I circled the block ten times. I couldn’t find a spot. I’m going to be late to my appointment. Forgive my trespass.
Put it on the windshield. Takes it. Comes back out. Ticket on his window. He’s made as can be. Ministers sometimes can get mad. So, he gets mad, and can’t believe he’s got a ticket.
Well, there’s a note. He opens the note. It says, I’m a policeman. I’ve been circling this block for ten years. If I don’t give you a ticket I might lose my job. Lead me not into temptation.
Come on. You know? So…
So, look at all this. And we’re not done. Look at… These are the benefits of living a life of forgiveness. Look at this. Less hostility. Lower blood pressure. Fewer symptoms of depression. Stronger immune system. Improved heart health.
Just so that we can all get a snapshot. Look at all this. All these things are just from living a life of forgiveness, where we don’t hold unforgiveness against others.
When I say things publicly to you all, that, hey, when we’re Christians, and we love God, and we’re supposed to shine our light, people are supposed to see a difference in us. Is there anybody that you know in modern culture that doesn’t want this for their life? See, Jesus is calling right now, and He’s saying, “You better listen to that boy.” I’m telling you.
Even those watching via the internet are laughing right now. They’re drinking their coffee. “Honey, you got to come in here. This guy’s funny.”
But look at that. I just want you to see this. This is so important that we get a hold of this, because this transformational.
You say, “Chip, I just need some help. I don’t want to live.”
I’m giving you help. I’m showing you here. This is not what you want to do. This is what we need to do.
Okay, last thing. Realize the difference between justice and mercy.
These are concepts that are a little foreign to us. We’re like, “I think I understand this. I think I understand.” We get generalities, but let me explain how this works here.
Justice is what we want when we are being accused of something we didn’t do.
See, injustice would be that we’re guilty for something that we didn’t do. That’s an unjust thing. We want justice. We want justice when we’re being accused of something that we didn’t do. That’s what we want. We want to be exonerated.
However, mercy is what we want when we are guilty of something that we did.
Now, knowing that, I just want to lay this out there. When we’ve done something to someone else, we want mercy. But when someone’s done something to us, unfortunately, we want to put justice on them rather than giving them mercy.
You want mercy. All of us want mercy. Not anybody in here doesn’t want mercy, because we know we need mercy.
Well, here’s what Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
You want mercy? Give mercy. Don’t hold it against somebody. Don’t sit back for the justice. Don’t try to get justice.
“Oh God, if He just could get them. Get them. Get them. Sic them, God. Get ahold of them. Just tear them apart. Just claw into their flesh, and rip them apart, and all this stuff.”
That’s not the prayer that Jesus prayed for you and me when He hung on the cross. He said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And that was just as much for the Roman soldiers as it was for Chip Bennett. We want mercy. To give mercy we need to be people of mercy.
Now, this is where I want to have just a quick chat with you all. Some of you are going, “You know what, that’s good. I need to live a life of forgiveness. I get it.” But I want to tell you something, because this is so important. You cannot live a life of forgiveness without Jesus. You cannot do it.
If you’re in here today and you’re like, “Man, I’ve got some unforgiveness, but I’m not sure where I’m at with Jesus,” this is the time for you to say, “You know what, I need to get Jesus in my life, because I see the benefits of this.”
I’m telling you, you cannot do this without Jesus. Okay, but even for those of you all who are Christians, can I tell you again, you cannot do this without Jesus. You need Jesus to do this stuff. You cannot do it in your own strength.
And so, what we need to do is we need to take a moment. Jesus is always here. It’s just that our senses aren’t always heightened enough to realize that He’s here. You know, when we praise and worship God and we go, “Oh man, the Lord is here.” No, He was already there. You’re just now realizing that He’s there. You’ve allowed yourself to realize that He’s there.
Okay, He’s here.
What I want us to do though is I want us to realize that He’s here, and I want us to ask Him, “Jesus, help me to dump some of these areas of unforgiveness right here on the floor today so I can move forward.”
Because this is a root, and the fruit of that root may be all kinds of things that you’re doing in your life that you want to get victory over. To get victory over those symptoms it’s going to have to be dealing with this area of unforgiveness.
Some of you got letters you need to write. Some of you got phone calls you need to make. Some of you have graves you need to visit. But the bottom line is if we want to walk in the fullness of God, God has given us His Spirit. He’s given us provision. He’s given us all things that pertain to life and Godliness. They bottom line is we’ve got to use the things that He’s given to us in the areas that it needs to be used in. We don’t need to keep shooting at things that are not going to give us the victory that we need. We need to deal with the issues that we really have to overcome. And one of those areas is unforgiveness.
And I suspect there’s many people in here that this is probably speaking to in a real way. And you know there’s an area that you need to move forward with. And I just want to take a moment, and let’s pray. Let’s ask Jesus to show up in a mighty way here, and really speak to our hearts. And give us some victory so we can move forward, and get these things out of our life.
Dear Heavenly Father, I come to You right now in the name of Your Son. Lord Jesus, walk the aisles of this sanctuary right now. Walk the aisles of this sanctuary with that key that only You have, that unlocks the handcuffs of unforgiveness in our lives.
Lord, I pray right now in Jesus’ name that there would be unforgiveness being dealt with, Lord. I pray that many of us would allow You to search us, and know our hearts, and to really get on the depths of the inside of us. And if there be any wicked way, if there be any area of unforgiveness as far back as it may go, Lord I pray in Jesus’ name that You would give us the ability and the strength to let that go in Jesus’ name, so that we can walk out of here dealing with the real thing, the root cause of many of our symptoms.
Lord, I pray that that would be a reality here. Lord, I pray in Jesus’ name for that person that’s been hurt, that’s held it in. And today it’s brought it up, and so much of them wants to get back. So much of them is hurt on the inside. So much of them doesn’t know what to do. Lord, right now in Jesus’ name, Lord let them hear Your voice. “My child, lay it down. I laid it down for you, and I’ve given you the strength to lay it down. You will walk in so much more victory if you can lay this down than holding it in on the inside.”
Lord, let that be a reality in the lives of Your people here today, for Your glory and for Your honor.
And so, Lord, as we walk out of here today, I pray that You’d watch over us, and protect us, and lead, and guide us. Help us, Lord, to continue to be that church that You’ve called us to be. And Lord, help us to be those that reflect Christ, because we are people that live in forgiveness.
We love You. We thank You. We praise You for all that You’ve done, and all that You’re going to continue to do. In Jesus’ name we pray. And everybody said, Amen.
Give the Lord a big hand clap, and tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody.