Sermon Series: Forgiveness, Week 2

Sermon Summary: Sitting in church one day, I wondered how I could improve retaining and acting upon the sermons our minster preaches. I decided that I could summarize them here which would help me remember them and create a log of them. Hopefully, I will be able to do this weekly (baring traveling, sickness, or bad weather) so that I can do a better job at intentionally living.

This week built upon last week's sermon, As Far as East Is From West. Last week, we talked about putting down the sign You Owe Me and picking up the sign I Owe You (God). What last week's sermon didn't cover was HOW to put down and pick up those signs! 

Forgiving Other's was the title of the sermon this week, and it was based on Matthew 18:15-20. This is my summary of what our pastor said.

The best place to start forgiving is to do some self-inspection and asking: "Where does it hurt? Why does it hurt?" Basically, pretend you're at the doctor's office with the abdominal pain and explaining the symptoms and locations. Once you have the answers to these two questions, you can begin to follow Matthew's Gospel:

1. "Go and correct them when you are alone together. If they listen to you, then you've won them over." Matt 18:16
2. But if they don't listen, take with you 1 or 2 others so that every word may be witnessed." Matt 18:16

Many of us never even get to the first step because we like hanging on to the hurt and anger since it makes us feel powerful. Again, refer to last week's sermon if you're struggling with moving past the hurt and anger. If you do get to step one and it works, Fabulous!!! But, when/if it doesn't, move to step two. 

The key part about step two is that the witness you bring can't have favorites, sides, or interest in the situation. For example, your mom probably isn't the best person to bring as your witness, or your best friend. It needs to be someone who can be objective, a rational third party. 

Both of these two steps points out an important part of forgiveness: Jesus wants us to forgive and find resolution. 

Sometimes, though, resolution can't be found easily or quickly. In these cases, you need boundaries. As Christians, we often feel that boundaries are against Christianity. However, the Bible shows examples of setting boundaries:
Matt 16:23: "...Get behind me, Satan"
Matt 23:23: "How terrible it will be for you, legal experts and Pharisees"
Luke 12:14: "Jesus said to him, 'Man, who appointed me as judge or referee between you and your brother."
Matt 18:17: "...Report to the church, then treat him as if he's a Gentile or tax collector."

So when is it right to set boundaries? When you're drained of emotion and time by the same thing over and over and over again. To set the boundaries, you must do so by being candid and kind. If you try to set boundaries while being candid and angry, the boundary will seem like a dare to the other person. It's important to know, though, the other people will hate your boundaries!

If you do not set boundaries, you should refer to Proverbs 26:11 to understand the outcome: "Like a dog that returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats foolish mistakes."

Remember, though, by getting to the point of setting boundaries, you've already done these things:
1. Put down your "You Owe Me" sign.
2. Picked up your "I Owe You (God)" sign.
3. Identified where you hurt and what caused the hurt.
4. Tried to talk privately to the person who you feel was hurtful.
5. Tried to talk to the other person with an unbiased, rational person.
6. Set boundaries.

To move through these steps, you must do so with a heart open for forgiveness. You can't set the boundary, hold the grudge, and expect forgiveness. The grudge/anger/hurt prevents the forgiveness.

Sometimes we prevent ourselves from forgiveness because if feels like a death. A death of perceptions, control or relationships. But, on the other side of that death, there is hope, just like the hope of the resurrection of Jesus. 

Within the message of setting boundaries, is also the message of forgiveness: He also tells us to treat people with kindness and gentleness. When He told us to treat them "like the Gentiles and tax collectors" (Matt 18:17), we have to look at how He treated the Gentiles and tax collectors which was with kindness and gentleness.

Forgiveness is hard. But it's also hard to carry the burden of anger and hurt and loneliness. Through prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit, we can forgive. 

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