There are really two elements at least that I know our culture needs right now that only we can supply, truth and love….I’m going to consider only love right now….I have to chew on how to really present the truth, especially in a way that is not political but solidly biblical. So we continue on with love…

God’s way of love toward us and the way we should respond to others is easily found right here

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

We touched on this last week and also talked about Jesus saying to turn the other cheek; in other words, do not return, and insult for an insult instead, love enough to speak the truth and live in love and grace toward the person who has insulted you….allow the Lord to defend you by not reacting our actions may very powerfully bring the person to repentance…

The second most brilliant man to have ever lived, Solomon said this, Proverbs 12:16

“A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted.”

We stay calm because we are secure in who we are and who the Lord is to us.

God will often use our actions to change the people around us, for the most part, it is people who are hurting that attempt to hurt others, it very well could be that our love based on our security in Christ may begin to or complete their healing.

Living this radical love causes us to begin to see God move in our lives, on our behalf, in more powerful ways so we can see growth in our own lives as it becomes less about us and more about him.

When you love radically, you bring healing to the broken but also the freedom to the captive (Isaiah 61)…one of the ways that people are in the most bondage is through unforgiveness

Matthew 6:14,15

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Let’s just stay here a moment and think about this….

Jesus is not saying he will not forgive your sins, but he is saying if you are one who does not forgive others you are probably not a follower of Christ and therefore your sins are not forgiven.

If you do not forgive others, you do not realize the full freedom Christ has bought for you on the cross, and that too brings your salvation into question.

Forgiveness is for you, so you can be set free from the snare of someone else’s pain.

Unforgiveness is a trap that someone else puts you in. Someone can hurt you, or because of your own pain you can believe someone has hurt you even if they did not and it does nothing to hurt them it only binds you in a bitterness and robs you of your freedom.

There are at least two traps of unforgiveness recorded in the Bible. The first is obvious and the second less obvious

Jesus is telling a parable about the Kingdom of God and who is in it and who isn’t

Matthew 18: 23-35

Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.

26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.

28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.

29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.

31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.

35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”

This is one of those who comes to church, makes a big showing feels remorseful because they have no hope and the Lord pours out his grace and mercy but he soon reveals that he is not truly repentant by the way he treats someone who had done a lesser offense to him.

When we come to Christ we are truly forgiven. We have to remember the grace that has been poured out on us. Jesus is saying you prove to the world that you are His disciple by walking in forgiveness because if you are bearing grudges, not forgiving others you are denying what Christ has done on the cross for you and Jesus is saying he questions your salvation that it is real.

We need to take our own sin seriously enough, knowing what a blessing it is to truly be forgiven and because of Christ love, grace and mercy do the same to others.

Please, what forgiveness is not is a renewal of trust

If someone has harmed you emotionally, mentally, spiritually or even physically you must choose to forgive because you have forgiven so much….please understand the reasoning behind that is once again first because Christ has forgiven you, paid the price on the cross for every sin you have ever committed but secondly because unforgiveness keeps you enslaved to the person who committed the offense.

A person who hurts you, sins against you, does not feel the hurt and pain you feel. As you choose to hold on to unforgiveness it continues to fester inside of you, to cause bitterness to well up inside of you and may even hurt you emotionally, and physically and definitely hurts you spiritually while the person who committed the offense walks free you are enslaved to the wounds… be free you must choose to forgive….that is radical love forgiving when everything in our culture says they don’t deserve it…..however

Just because you forgive someone of an offense does not mean you must trust that person. If there has been a deep violation, of trust, rebuilding a relationship is something that takes time and in the situation of physical, verbal or emotional abuse, I would not even recommend rebuilding that relationship but for your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical healing you must choose to forgive. Because your unforgiveness will only harm you more and not affect the violator at all, however in most cases the Lord is going to work with you to restore the relationship….part of our calling as Christians is to be a peacemaker and a repairer of any breaches (Isaiah 58:12)

I must add this, there are times when God is working on you. You may feel an offense, you may feel someone has offended you when no one has truly offended you but instead God is working on your pride, arrogance, bad teaching you received, insecurities in you. God loves us enough that sometimes he will allow us to be offended so that we can humbly deal with this stuff, realizing that no one has truly offended us but instead it is our pride, insecurities, fears, arrogance, failed teaching or other things God is working on….so when you are offended make sure that it is not the Lord working on your heart not necessarily a wound from someone else. In other words, sometimes God uses offenses to cause you to grow.

The next area that may actually be harder to deal with regarding forgiveness is this…Jesus is dealing with Christ-followers handling anger properly and being peacemakers

Matthew 5:23

So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.

Read that again please

I have taken this verse very seriously a number of times in my life….if someone is carrying an offense against you that means they are immature in that area. As a more mature believer in this area, we must take on the role of mentor, as one who loves as Christ loves 

Paul writes Romans 12:18 (NKJV)

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men .

Jesus is saying, if you know someone has a grievance or offense against you whether it is legitimate or not….if you are coming to the Lord in worship, love your brother or sister in the Lord enough to want to make sure that they too can come to Him in worship with a pure heart. Love enough to go to them, find out the offense and clear it out

Galatians 6:1

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.

It is easy for us to say, their problem with me is not my problem, but if you develop that attitude you will develop unforgiveness, pride, arrogance or bitterness in your heart hindering your worship. See just because perhaps you did nothing wrong doesn’t mean that you can’t develop a pharisaical attitude….we have been set free because of what Jesus has done on the cross. Our sins have been forgiven and will be remembered no more

Radical love requires us to set others free as well

We must always walk in forgiveness it does not mean we need to immediately trust again or in some cases even return to that relationship but we must choose freedom because Christ has set us free

We must also love enough to help others forgive, to forgive us, even if we don’t believe we did anything wrong but they do, we must have radical love with a heart to set people free.

Start today some of you need to forgive yourselves you have been holding things against yourself (that’s a twist) and some have deep unforgiveness issues with others and you need the Lord to help you forgive….The Holy Spirit will pour into you all the love you need to be able to do that but please come to the altar today and allow the Lord to pour into you so you can start the first step to forgiving yourself and others