Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Practical Definition of Forgiveness

This past Sunday's sermon at my church focused on dealing with anger, resentment, and unforgiveness. There were many things I enjoyed about the sermon, but below were the main points I wanted to remember:

Anger itself isn't a sin, but is very likely to lead to sin.

Anger always feels righteous in the moment.

It was once said that everything you can do with anger, you can accomplish better without. Do you agree?

We tend to think that people don't take us seriously unless we're angry. But the problem is really that most of us don't know how to achieve those things without being fueled by anger.

Don't carry contempt toward someone. It leads you to see them as less than you and to develop a superior attitude.

Remember that change starts from the inside. If you want to learn to not be so angry, it must start from the heart.

At the heart of anger is entitlement. We feel that we did not receive something that we deserved. And so we carry anger and resentment over those things we did not get. The problem is, most of the things that we think people owe us, they can never pay back. Forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a decision to say "you don't owe me anymore".

This last sentence is what really struck me the most. I've never understood what people meant when they said, "You have to make a decision to forgive, even if you don't feel like it." I didn't understand what that looked like. I couldn't comprehend how to do such a thing. But when our pastor Jonathan said "It is a decision to say 'you don't owe me anymore,'" something inside me just clicked. It was a total 'aha!' moment. And it was wonderfully freeing. Suddenly I had a new understanding of how to forgive others, even when I still may be hurting inside.

If you'd like to check out the sermon, please do. An mp3 recording can be found here: http://www.crosspointe.org/messages/mp3s/2011_09_11.mp3

You can also check out all the messages in the current series here: http://crosspointe.org/messages/current_series/

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- Romans 12:17-21

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
- Ephesians 4:31-32

Go dig into some other encouragement at Call Me Blessed!

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