Forgive From The Heart



In this message, we learn that we’ll never be at rest as long as we hold onto unforgiveness.

Good morning. May hope arise in whatever hopeless situation you are dealing with. The reason we sing that is to remind ourselves that that’s actually true. In a hurting and broken world, we can have hope in the hopeless situation that you’re facing today. My sense is, as some of you are here, you’ve got sickness in your body, you’ve got a relationship that’s falling apart, you’ve got bills you can’t pay, you’ve got a scenario that you’re not sure what’s going to happen in the midst of it. Can I just tell you, let hope arise, let His hope arise in the midst of your heart. That’s the word from the Lord for some of you today. That’s what you came here for, okay? So now, I’m going to say good morning and welcome to Valley Creek Church. And I’m glad that you’re here.

If this is your first time with us, I really am glad that you’re here and in two weeks from this weekend, we have a great opportunity to be upside down church, what we’ve been talking about for the past few weeks. You see, two weekends from this weekend, it will be October 31st, and October 31st is Halloween. And this year, Halloween happens to fall on a Saturday and we have Saturday night services. And so after praying and seeking the Lord and talking about it as a team, we’ve decided this year to go ahead and not have our Saturday night services on Halloween because we don’t want to gather as the church that night, we want to go out in the city and be the church. Instead of coming together and bringing all of the light into this building, we want to take all of the light and push it out into the darkness of the world around us. You see, you have to think and just acknowledge that Halloween is one of the few times of the year where the city is out and open and interested in conversations. It’s one of the few times of the year. You don’t have to go and find your neighbors. Your neighbors come and find you. They come and knock on your door and walk through your neighborhood. And they’re open to conversation and just introductions and meeting each other.

And so instead of drawing everybody into this building together as the church, we would rather be the church, go out into the city, put the love of God on display because we don’t want our leaders and our volunteers and the people that regularly come to feel obligated to come to service. We want to go ahead and free them of that burden on a Saturday night to go out in the city and really be Jesus in the world around them and we’ll have all our services on Sunday morning just like normally. It won’t affect you all that much, but I want you to have a vision and understanding of this. I want you to understand that we’re serious about being the church that turns the world upside down. I mean, we just finished the big series called Upside Down Church. And so think about it like this. If we didn’t do this, like Upside Down Church, right. Change the way you think so you can change the way you live. We should be able to turn the world upside down. That’s what we talked about. If we didn’t cancel services on Halloween, what we would basically be saying is, that was a really nice series but we’re not really going to do anything with it.

Like that was really fun information, but we’re not actually going to apply that to our lives. Oh yes, we are. And what I want you to see, sometimes I want to make decisions from the macro level of the church even though it impacts us because I want you to see we’re serious about being the church that turns the world upside down, okay? I’m not telling you you have to trick or treat. I’m not telling you to dress up in costumes. I’m not telling you you have to participate in Halloween. I realized that’s a sensitive issue and every family has to make their decision. I’m just telling you, it’s a night in our city when we’re not going to gather as the church. We would rather go out and be the church because that’s what I believe Jesus would do, okay? And so if you have any questions or you don’t understand the vision or this concerns you, as soon as service is over, come up and talk to us. We would love to explain it to you in further detail. You don’t have to be afraid of the darkness because greater is He that is in you than He that is in this world, okay?

So if you’ve got a Bible, Genesis Chapter 50. You’re like, man, that means all the Saturday night, people are going to be in this service. Yes, they are. That’s what I’m telling you. Genesis Chapter 50. We’re going to start a new series today. And forgive my voice, it’s pretty much gone. So we’ll hope we make it until the end of the service. It may be a really short sermon. We’re going to start a new series today called How. And for the next few weeks, we’re going to get really practical and talk about how to do some things. All you practical pragmatic people, this is the series you’ve been waiting for, baby. This is the one that you’re just going to love because as the church in general, we’re pretty much a vision-oriented church. We spend a lot of time talking about vision, talking about why, talking about root issues because I deeply believe and I think the Bible teaches us that, that if you understand the why, you’ll be able to figure out the how. If you understand the vision, you’ll be able to listen to the Holy Spirit and take next steps on your journey with Jesus.

So we’re not a church that’s big on self-help. We don’t believe self-help is all that helpful, anyways. Like three steps to a better marriage, four ways to be a good parent, five ways to figure out your finances by Friday. Like when has that ever helped you? Self-help is not very helpful, and so instead, we’re a Jesus-focused church. And what we want to do is focus on Jesus because we believe the more clearly you see Jesus, the more clearly you see everything else, but every once in a while, you just need some practical how. Psalm 119:105, it says, “Your word is a lamp into my feet and a light into my path.” In other words, it shows me how to take the next step right in front of me but it also is the vision and the direction and the why of where I’m heading. And so, we’re going to talk about how for a few weeks together because here’s what I think we do, I think sometimes we use a lack of understanding as an excuse for a lack of obedience. We will use a lack of understanding, I don’t know how, as an excuse for a lack of obedience.

And so we’re going to deal with some of those issues over the next few weeks so that we can follow Jesus and find everything He has in store for us. And we’re going to start today by talking about how to forgive from the heart, okay? How to forgive from the heart. You’ll say, well, how am I picking these messages because I’m kind of going and reaching into some things that I can sense a lot of new people that have joined our church, a lot of people have been here a long time, that they’re struggling with that we need some basic practical help. So how to forgive from the heart, because I don’t care who you are if you live in this world, you’re going to get hurt. You’re going to be offended. You’re going to bump into people. They’re going to bump into you. Jesus says it is impossible that no offenses should come. So it’s going to happen, so we’ve got to learn how to deal with it, okay? And so in Genesis Chapter 50, this is the story of Joseph. You’re probably familiar with the story. He’s his father’s favorite son, basically his brothers hate him. And so one day, they take Joseph. They throw him in a pit, sell him to slave traders. He ends up in an Egyptian prison. They tell his Father Jacob that he was killed by wild animals.

And so — I mean this was a pretty big deal. And so Joseph ends up in Egypt and he goes through a whole bunch of slavery and prison and a whole bunch of horrible things. But through the graciousness and the goodness of God, God raises him up. He becomes the number two guy in all of Egypt which means he runs the entire nation. A big famine breaks out. The world has gone hungry. And so Joseph’s brothers need to come to Egypt to buy some food. They run into Joseph, haven’t seen each other in years. They think he is dead, and Joseph is able to keep his family arrive to rescue the Israelite nation. And that bring us to Genesis 50:15, okay. I’m really sorry about my voice. It’s bothering me. Sorry it’s going to bother you, too. Okay. Genesis 50:15, it says, “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?'” That’s a fair question. So they sent word to Joseph saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died.” This is what you are to say to Joseph, “I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly. Now, please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.”

When their message came to Joseph, he wept. It’s a lie. It’s not actually what Jacob said, but they’re afraid of what Joseph is going to do to them. His brothers then came to him, threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I on the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. That is a perfect example of learning how to forgive from the heart. And really, that’s a prophetic picture because even though Jacob didn’t say those words, it’s always the father’s heart that we would forgive those who hurt us, okay? So really practical, if you don’t normally take notes because you think it’s too why and vision-oriented, this is a great day for you to pull out a pen and take some notes because I have five points for you.

You know we’re in uncharted territory when I have five points because that is not how it rolls around here, okay? So are you ready? Super practical. And here’s the deal, you got to promise me you’re going to apply these to your life because this isn’t my favorite style of preaching. Can we agree on that? Three of us just agreed. How about the rest of us? Okay. The first thing is this, start apologizing. If you want to know how to forgive from the heart, start apologizing. Nowhere in the text does Joseph apologize, but based on how fast and how well he forgives his brothers, we can tell he is really good at apologizing. Joseph is really good at saying I’m sorry which makes him really good at saying I forgive you. If you want to be a good forgiver, it starts by first being a good apologizer because you have to learn to take responsibility for your own actions. You have to learn to acknowledge that you and your behavior can hurt the people around you because I hate to break it to you but you’re not perfect. You know that, right?

You’re not perfect and you hurt the people around you. I work on this with my kids all the time. They’ll come running into the room, both of them crying, fighting, upset, trying to get me or Coleen to be the mediator, and I’ll have to stop them. I say, “Whoa. Okay.” Then go through the situation and say, “Okay. Now, what do you have to say?” “I’m sorry.” “No, no, no, no, no, no. That is not how it works in our family. What do you have to say?” “I’m sorry for punching you in the face. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” “Okay. Now, what do you have to say?” “I’m sorry for breaking your Legos on purpose. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” “Yes.” “Now, kiss and hug and make up and go play.” That’s what we do, okay? Here’s what I want you to catch, I’m sorry for specific. I was wrong ownership. Will you forgive me because I acknowledge I hurt you?

I’m sorry for, state the specific offense that you committed. I was wrong, take ownership and responsibility. Will you forgive me because I acknowledge that I hurt you? We’ve got to learn to take ownership for our behavior. I mean a lot of us, we say this, we’re like, yeah, yeah, they know I’m sorry. My spouse, she knows or he knows I’m sorry. My parents, they know. My friend — do they? Do they because did you specifically say what you did wrong and that you were the offender and that you’re sorry that you hurt them. I mean, you’ve got understand when you apologize, it creates humility within your heart. It’s a posture of humility. James 4:6, God opposes the crowed, but He gives grace to the humble. When you apologize, what you’re saying is that you’re no longer in the driver seat or in control but that you’re — you need the grace of God and the grace of others. You humble yourself. So it creates humility but it also creates mercy.

Micah 6:8, it says, “He has shown you, o man, what is good and what does God require of you – to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly before your God.” It says He wants us to love mercy. In other words, God wants us to love to forgive. But you will only love mercy when you first understand you need mercy. If you never think you need mercy, you will never be able to give mercy. So you will never love mercy or love forgiving until you first apologize and acknowledge you need it. Your ability to forgive others is always based on your revelation of how much you have been forgiven. If you don’t think you need mercy, you’ll never be able to give mercy. So the question I want to ask you is this, how good are you at saying I’m sorry? Don’t look at the person you came with today right now next to you. Look, I’m good. You’re not very good. You — I’m really glad you’re here today. Yeah.

I’m really glad you’re here today. How good are you at saying I’m sorry? Because if you want to learn to forgive, you first have to learn to apologize. I want to be a really good apologizer in my life. We got to start by apologizing and saying I’m sorry, okay? It’s the first thing. The second thing is this, grieve the loss, grieve the loss. Verse 17, it says, “Joseph wept.” He wept. He didn’t look at his brothers and say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s fine. Let’s go eat.” No, no. He wept. And this wasn’t like one or two tears that he could just dry with a Kleenex when no one was looking. This was not bubbles, you know, drool, puffy eyes, fetal position on the — he wept. His brothers broke his heart. Their sin stole amazing things away from Joseph. Their sin took his family. Their sin took his future. Their sin took his freedom. He was cut deeply and had a broken heart and he had to acknowledge what had been stolen from him and grieve that loss before he could actually forgive his brothers.

When people hurt you and they sin against you, you have to acknowledge that pain. Psalm 34:18, it says, “The Lord is close to brokenhearted.” When you are hurting, He comes really close to you. He wants to be the God of all comfort and compassion. He wants you to bring your emotions to him and process it with Him so that He can heal you and what you can’t do is bury those emotions because every time you bury an emotion, you bury it alive. And when you bury emotions alive, at some point in time, they will resurrect when you least expect it. It’s what we do. We act like we’re fine, just bury the emotion down. You buried it alive. So some of us have like a colony of minions living inside of us and they will resurrect when you least expect it. Like if you ever watched anybody just like explode over a really little issue. You’re like, “Bro, your response right now isn’t even close to this issue,” right. I mean that’s not–

Do you know what that is? That’s years of buried emotions for somehow it just got triggered in that moment. They all came out. And when they come out, they’re not the yellow minions. They’re the purple ones and they just go crazy. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about. Proverbs 4:23, it says, “Above all else guard your heart for it’s the wellspring of life.” The way you guard your heart is by dealing with the emotions as they come for it is the wellspring of life, because if you bury them down in there and think it’s just gone, they’re going to spring back up when you least expect it. I’m convinced that most of us, we get hurt in life and we just kind of like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just keep going. Put your big good boy pants on. Put your big girl pants on. Just — let’s just deal with it. That’s fine. Let’s just keep going.” Okay. Listen to me, don’t say you’re fine because you’re not. Don’t say you’re fine because you’re not. Burying emotions is not a sign of strength. It’s a sign of immaturity. You’re not a superhero because you can bury your emotions.

What that reveals is that you’re really immature on your journey with Jesus. I mean, listen to me, if you’re in Jesus, you don’t have a heart of stone anymore. You have a heart of flesh. This is what the Bible says, “Stone can’t be hurt, but flesh can.” And God gave you emotions for a reason. Like when you put your hand on a hot stove, there’s a feeling there, you’ve got to move it. You step on a sharp object, you feel it. You move it. Okay. When your heart hurts, it’s like God saying, “Action required here.” Don’t pretend like nothing is happening. Don’t act like nothing is going on and don’t bury it. Action is required. Pain is an invitation from God to experience Him as the healer. So he wants you to bring it to him. I mean, listen to me, when people sin against you, they are stealing something from you and you have to acknowledge what’s been taken before you can release the debt.

When people sin against you, they do something that offends you or hurts you, they are literally stealing something from you and you have to acknowledge what’s been taken before you can forgive or actually release that debt. I mean, the word forgiveness, it literally means to cancel the debt. How can you cancel the debt if you have no idea of what’s been taken or what is actually owed? Like think about this for a second, let’s say last week and some day when you weren’t home and you were out and about, let’s say I came and I broke into your house and I stole something, okay. I came to your house when you weren’t home and I stole something from you and throughout the rest of this week, I’ve been convicted. I’ve kind of felt bad so I came up to you and said, “Hey, man, last week when you weren’t home, I broke into your house and I stole something. I’m really sorry. Will you forgive me?” Okay. What would you say to that? You’re like I don’t believe this scenario. Come on. What would you say to me?

What would you — what did you take? What, you broke into my house. What did you take? That would be your first question, is what’s now missing and what did you take. You need to know what I took if you’re going to be able to forgive me. But a religious answer or just like a movie non-answer would be, “Yeah, yeah. Sure, man. You’re my pastor. I forgive you. Like no problem. Like we’re just — we’re good. We’re going to move on.” Like okay. Well, let’s say, a week goes by and you go to your cupboard to get your favorite coffee mug to have a cup of coffee and you realize that’s what I took. What’s going to happen in that moment? All those purple minions are going to come flying out. Why? Because you said the words “I forgive you” but it was impossible for your heart to actually forgive me because you didn’t know what I took and what I stole from you. So you couldn’t actually release or cancel the debt. And so every time for the rest of your life, you go to have a cup of coffee — this is — it’s a silly example but this is true. The emotions are going to come back up because you never acknowledge what I took from you and then canceled the debt because you knew what was missing.

That’s what happens in the relationships in our lives. That’s why some of you can never seem to have healthy relationships because something was stolen from you way back here and you’ve never acknowledged what it was to release the debt. And every time anything is even close to that issue, it triggers all these emotions of unforgiveness back towards that situation within you. I mean, how many times have you been in church and you’ve heard that forgiveness is a choice. I’ve told you that. Forgiveness is a choice, and in many ways, it is. And there’s been a lot of times when people have hurt me. I’m like, “Okay. Forgiveness is a choice. Alright. Bitterness was the poison.” I drink, hoping they die [phonetic]. I’m drinking, I’m dying. I keep my eyes closed because I don’t know why. I’m struggling. Just go with me. Jesus wants me to forgive. That’s what He says. I don’t want to put myself in bondage.

Like all those different things, okay, forgiveness is a choice. I choose to forgive them in Jesus’ name. And then you walk out and that week, all the emotions come flying back up. Why, because you’ve never acknowledged what they’ve taken so you can’t release that debt. You literally have to stop and process with the Lord and say, “They took my innocence. They took my family. They took my peace or my trust or my hope.” You have to acknowledge what’s been stolen before you can actually forgive and release that which is owed. That is the difference between forgiving from the mouth and forgiving from the heart. We’re really good at forgiving from the mouth. Yeah. Yeah. I forgive you. Let’s move on. But if you don’t stop and acknowledge what they took from you, you didn’t forgive from the heart. And you’ll say, “Well, how do I know if I’ve actually forgiven them from the heart?” Well, here’s a couple of examples or ways that you can know. Do you have an emotional response when their name comes up. If there’s any emotion that’s not good that comes up when their name is mentioned, you haven’t forgiven them from the heart.

Are you constantly judging them in different ways or different scenarios? Do you have a level of joy when they get hurt in their life? Apparently, based on our laughter, that’s the one we need to work on. Everybody laughed in that last [unintelligible] [0:21:21.6]. Sometimes, I’m thinking I’m not sure why you all are laughing right now? Do you assume the worst about them and are you constantly bringing up the past? That reveals to you that you haven’t forgiven from the heart. Maybe you’ve said the words but it’s not in the heart. Listen to me, if they dictate how you feel, you are enslaved to them. If they dictate how you feel, in any way, shape or form, you are enslaved to them. Wherever there is an outstanding debt, there is an entanglement of the hearts. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be entangled to the people that have hurt me. I want to be entangled with the people that loved me.

In fact, if you’re holding on to unforgiveness, there’s an entanglement of the heart, which means you’re not free to connect with the people that you do love and love you and you’re not free to connect with God because you’re entangled with that person over there. You have to forgive. If you’re ever going to love or be loved in the future, that’s how you get to this place where you live with the whole heart. If Joseph didn’t forgive his brothers, he could have never loved his wife or his kids fully. He could’ve said those words and gone through life, but it would’ve never been this deep profound experience. So the question I want to ask you is this, where do you need to grieve the loss? What emotions that you’ve buried? Do you need to unearth on your own and bring them to the Lord and stop and acknowledge? When I was a little girl, this is what was taken. When I was a little boy, this is what was stolen. When I was in that first marriage, here is what was taken. When I was in that employee spot over a year in that office, here is what was taken from me. You have to grieve the loss and acknowledge what’s been taken before you can forgive it, release it and be free, okay?

Are you with me on that? That is literally probably the most important thing that I’m going to say in this message. So I hope you got that, okay? You’ve got to grieve the loss. The third thing is this, you’ve got to go first. Go first. Look at what it says about Joseph, verse 18. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. They come and apologize, but I want to tell you this. Joseph, forgave his brothers long before they came and asked for forgiveness. I mean, Joseph is the all-star forgiver. He would win the all American forgiveness award. I mean, he forgave his brothers. He forgave Potiphar and his wife for falsely throwing them in the prison. He forgave the cupbearer for forgetting him when the cupbearer got out of prison. I mean, Joseph knew how to forgive. He always went first and that’s what kingdom people do. We go first because forgiveness is not what we do. Forgivers is who we are. And there’s a big difference between those two things. If you’re waiting for somebody else to go first, you’re going to be waiting a long time is what I’m trying to tell you.

Some of you are still waiting for a little guy in third grade who took your sandwich to come and say I’m sorry, you know. Joey don’t even remember he took your sandwich so it is not going to happen. Hey, you’ve got to go first. I mean, listen to what Jesus says, Matthew 5. Therefore if you’re offering your gift at the altar and they remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go. You go first and be reconciled to your brother then come and offer your gift. In other words, God says the highest form of worship is to reconcile, is to say I’m sorry and I forgive you. I mean, think of David and his son, Absalom for a moment. They have this issue, this falling out that could have been worked through if they dealt with it, but they didn’t. And so it says, for two years, they lived in the same town and never talked, never saw each other’s faces. For two years, neither of them had the courage to be the first one to walk across the street, to be the first one to walk across the aisle, to be the first one to say I’m sorry, I forgive you, to be the first one to shake a hand. Neither of them did that for two years.

And when you hold onto that kind of unforgiveness, it’s like a cancer. It breeds and it grows and it ultimately led to the downfall of David’s kingdom and it ultimately led to the death of Absalom. Both of which could have totally been averted if either of them would have just gone first. You don’t need someone to apologize to you before you can actually forgive them. You go first. Psalm 51:4, David, after the Bathsheba incident, he says, “Against You and You alone, O Lord, have I sinned.” Against You and You alone have I sinned, God. Not — this is the Bathsheba incident. So he just took another man’s wife, slept with her, got her pregnant, had Uriah killed to cover up all of his problems here. And so we hear this and we’re like, “Wait a second. There’s a lot of people David sinned against.” He sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah and Uriah’s family. But this is the Bible. Against You and You alone, O Lord, have I sinned, which means ultimately at the end of the day, all sin is ultimately owed back to God.

That’s why you don’t need an apology in order to actually be able to forgive because it’s actually not owed to you. It’s actually owed to the Lord. I mean, unforgiveness is like trying to collect on a debt that’s been paid in full that was never owed to you in the first place. That’s unforgiveness. It’s like trying to collect on a debt that’s been paid in full that was never owed to you in the first place. Like for example, let’s say my truck is paid off and every month, you come to me and you’re like, “Hey, man, you got the $500 for your truck?” I look at you back, “What?” “Yeah. Yeah. That $500 for your truck. I’m ready. I’m here for the check. You want to give him the — like, “Dude. First of all, it’s paid off and second of all, it was never owed to you. It’s owed to the bank, okay?” That’s what unforgiveness is. It’s like trying to collect on a debt that Jesus says it’s paid in full that was never owed to you in the first place. So you don’t need an apology in order to forgive and then little asterisk here, caveat, let me say this, and you don’t need to go and tell someone, “Hey, I just want you to know I forgave you.”

If you’ve been in church for a while, that’s probably happened to you or you’ve been the offender. One or the other, because for some reason we think it’s really spiritual. “Okay, man. Oh, you probably don’t know this, but for three years, I’ve been holding an offense in my heart against you. I just want you to know after the message that I’ve chosen to forgive you.” Okay. No, no, no. That’s about you. That’s immaturity. If they don’t even know that they’ve hurt you, you don’t need to tell them anything. You need to work it out with the Lord, because you’re going to create an offense by going and saying, “For three years, I’ve been offended by you.” No, no. We don’t do — we just don’t do that, okay? You got that? That’s just a really good — like let’s not be churchy people. That’s kind of what that is. I mean, Jesus hung on the cross and He said, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” He went first. And He said, “It is finished.” Finished.

Hebrews 8:12, He has forgiven our wickedness and remembers our sins no more. Psalm 103, as far as the east is from the west, so far as He removed your sins and transgressions from you, He has forgiven you fully, abundantly and completely.” And if you believe that you still have to earn his forgiveness, you’ll always make them earn your forgiveness. If you’re standing in judgment over them, it’s because you believe God is standing in judgment over you. And if you don’t believe it’s finished for you, you’ll never let it be finished for them, okay? You’ve got to go first. You’ve got to go first. The fourth thing is this, look for the goodness of God. You’ve got to look for the goodness of God, verse 20. He says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good and to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” In other words, Joseph looks at these guys and he says, “I know you tried to hurt me but God actually used it for my good.” And what I love about Joseph is, Joseph is more focused on the goodness of God than the evil of man. That’s profound.

He is literally looking at the goodness of God instead of the evil of men, of what his brothers did. He’s more interested in what God is doing than what his brothers have done. That’s how you forgive from the heart. Romans 8:28, we know that in all things, God works together for the good of those who love Him. In every bit of pain and brokenness you are experiencing, there is still the goodness of God. When David was running and hiding from Saul in all the caves, God was using it to prepare his heart to be king. When the First Century Church was persecuted and they were scattered throughout the world, God used that as an opportunity to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. When Jesus was being beaten on the cross, God used the evil of men as an opportunity for the redemption of mankind. There is always the goodness of God in your pain. Maybe you’re getting divorced right now, have been or about to be. Okay. Maybe that’s caused you to seek God with a passion you haven’t in years.

There’s the goodness of God in the midst of your pain. Maybe you didn’t get asked to homecoming but everybody else did and you feel like you’re the one kid that got left out. Well, maybe it’s because God wanted to protect you from going to this party where you’re going to be exposed to something He didn’t want you to be exposed to. Maybe there was someone in your life that abandoned you way back in the day and you’re still upset that they left you. But if you look back now, you realize, if you would’ve stayed in that relationship, you would’ve ended up in a scenario you never wanted to be. So it was God protecting you. Maybe you didn’t get the promotion you think you deserved. But maybe it’s because God had something better in store for you. Whenever you’re hurt or being offended by other people, you’ve got to choose to look at the goodness of God instead of just the evil of men. In my life, every person that has dramatically hurt me, it’s changed the trajectory of my life in some way, but all of those trajectories have led me to here. I want to say, “Thank you, Lord.”

Psalm 136:1, give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures forever.” Their failure can’t stop His love. Their sin doesn’t have the authority to rob you from your destiny. Don’t look at the evil of man, look at the goodness of God. And the last thing is this, you’ve got to cancel the debt and underline, credit the account. Verse 21, so then don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children. And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. So catch it, Joseph doesn’t just say, “Okay. Hey, that’s fine. I forgive you. Like go live your life. We’ll see you at grandma’s house for Thanksgiving.” He looks at them, he says, “Hey.” He says, “I forgive you and here’s what I want, I want you to come and live with me, you and your kids and your spouses. I want you to all come and I’m going to provide everything you will ever need.” He cancels the debt and credits the account, which is the biblical definition of forgiveness.

Everywhere in the Bible, the biblical definition is canceling the debt and crediting the account. Think of the Israelites. When God sets them free from Egyptian slavery, he canceled their debt as slaves and then he moved on the Egyptians to give them all their treasure. So the Israelites walked into the desert as millionaires, canceled their debt but credited their account, filled them with treasure and plunder, amazing things. How about the prodigal son? He comes back home after living in the pig pen wishing his father dead and when he comes back home, his father cancels the debt, forgives him but gives him a robe, a ring and sandals, a full share of the inheritance. He credits his account. He takes him out of the red and brings him into the black. How about Deuteronomy 15? It says, “If a fellow Hebrew, a man or woman, sells himself to you and serves you and is in debt to you, in the seventh year, you must let him go free.” Cancel the debt. And when you release him, do not send him away empty-handed, supply him liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your wine press and give to him as the Lord, your God, has blessed you.

Cancel the debt and credit the account. Think of the cross. Jesus took your sin, but the real gift is that, He gave you His righteousness. He took your guilt, but He gave you His grace, His undeserved favor. He took your shame, but he also gave you his wholeness. He took your sicknesses and He gave you His healing. He canceled the debt and credited the account. Biblical forgiveness, the forgiver always pays the restitution. It’s not, I’m sorry, I’ll make it up to you. That’s what we want. It’s, I forgive you and I bless you. We’re really good I think at canceling the debt saying, “I forgive you.” But the reason our heart never gets free is because we don’t credit the account. And you say, “What does that look like?” It means, bless them.

Speak well of them. Pray for them. You understand? It’s really hard to be offended at people if you’re praying for them. I’m just saying. All the people you’re offended at, if you start praying for them, you’re starting to credit their account and it’s really hard to hold on to that offense. And sometimes, it’s like the best you can get out is bless them. Like that’s about it. Okay. Well, freedom sometimes starts small. That’s okay. I mean, instead of sitting there and telling your kids how bad your ex-husband is, why not sit there and just tell their — your kids about some of the good things that made you fall in love with their dad in the first place. That would be an example of canceling the debt and crediting the account. And I can give you 100 examples like that, but you’ve got to listen to the Holy Spirit for your own. Where do you need to credit the account? I mean, Ephesians 4:31 and 32, it says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” That would be great to get rid of all that, wouldn’t it?

How? By being kind and compassion into each other. Forgiving each other just as in Christ, God forgave you. In other words, if we want to get rid of all of that stuff, we’ve got to forgive the way we’ve been forgiven. We’ve got to cancel the debt and credit the account. The reason the bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander, malice, the minions that live inside of us, don’t go away, it’s because we’ve said I forgive you but we have never actually credited the account. Blessed, prayed, spoke well of in some way, shape or form. And you say, “But they don’t deserve it.” I know, but neither did you. And the choice is, do you want to be the one who gets to live in freedom? Let me close with this. Matthew 18 is probably the most famous story of forgiveness, parable in the Bible. There’s a king who wants to settle his debt. So he brings everybody in that owes him something. And there’s a guy who owes him, let’s say, multiple billions of dollars. It’s basically what the Bible says, an unpayable debt.

A thousand lifetimes could’ve never paid it off. So the guy comes and he hits his knees and the king says he needs to go to jail but he starts begging for mercy. “I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. Please have mercy on me.” And the king says, “Okay.” And he says, “Cancel his debt.” So they take the ledger. They literally erased it. It’s gone. It’s wiped off. There are multiple billions of dollars gone, completely wiped away. The king cancels the debt, credits the account and lets the guy leave. The guy leaves. He goes walking down the road and he bumps into another guy that owes him a few hundred bucks. And so he says the same thing the king said to him. He says, “Hey, I want you to pay back what you owe me.” And the guy hits his knees and says, “I’m so sorry. I don’t have it. Just give me a little bit of time. I promise you. I will be able to make it up to you. I will get it to you.” And the guy says, “No.” And he gets in the jailers and has the guy thrown off into prison. And so the king’s servants see this. They tell the king. The king brings the first man back in before him and he looks at him and he says, “Hey.” He says, “I don’t understand this.” He says, “Shouldn’t you have done for him what I did for you?”

He says, “Take that man and throw him in jail. He will be tortured until he pays back all that he owes.” Here is my question, what does the man owe? Just think about it. What does he owe? So he’s going to be tortured in jail until he pays back all that he owes. What does he owe? He doesn’t owe billions of dollars. That’s what we think. We think the king reinstated the debt. The king can’t reinstate the debt because that would make the king unrighteous. The debt has been erased. There’s no ledger anymore. There’s no record of it. It’s been completely forgiven. Hebrews 8:12, he has forgiven your wickedness and remembers your sins no more. There’s no record of it. That’s not what he owes. What does he owe? He owes forgiveness. He has received forgiveness so he owes forgiveness. And so he is sitting in jail being tortured until he just chooses to say to a guy that owes him a few hundred bucks. I forgive you and cancel that debt and he can walk right out of prison anytime he wants.

Jesus tells us that story because that’s how a lot of us lived in this self-imposed bondage where all we owe, the key to get out is literally just giving the forgiveness that we received from him. Releasing mercy as we have received mercy and we can open that door and walk out in freedom at any point in time. You will never be at rest if there’s unforgiveness in your heart. You will never be at rest if there’s unforgiveness in your heart. It’s not saying it with your mouth. It’s working through it in your heart. That’s why Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I’ll give you rest. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart.” “I’ll teach you how,” He says. Start apologizing, grieve the loss, go first, look for the goodness of God, cancel the debt and credit the account and you can be free.

So we close your eyes with me. And let me just ask you, what does that Holy Spirit want to say to you? Here’s what I realized. I realized every one of us sitting in this room, we all have someone to forgive. Some of those wounds are deeper than others. But if Joseph could do it after being sold by his own brothers into slavery, you can, too. The Lord acknowledges the depth of your pain.

In fact, the only person that’s trying to trick you into burying those emotions is Satan. Jesus is saying, “Come to me.” With the hurt and the wound, let’s figure out what was taken so we can forgive and be free. Some of you, you need to forgive a spouse or a former spouse. Some of you, it’s a mom or a dad. Some of you, it’s that boss, an uncle, a grandpa, a cousin. Some of you, it’s a neighbor or a friend who betrayed you. Some of you, it’s somebody in this room. I don’t know who it is, but I know the Holy Spirit is going to bring up a name in your heart. Will you now have the courage to do the how so that you can be free?

So Lord Jesus, we celebrate the forgiveness we have in you. We have been forgiven much, and so we are able to love much. I pray that you would give us the courage and the strength to forgive from the heart that we would literally be able to figure out what’s been taken through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit within us and that we would be able to cancel that debt and credit that account that we might be free in You. Some of you, the reason that you’ve been stuck in life is because you’re enslaved to this debt that you’re still trying to get paid for. Let the Holy Spirit show you what was taken, forgive it and release it and stop trying to collect on something Jesus says in Him. It’s already paid in full that will free you to move forward.

So Lord, we love you. Holy Spirit, would you minister to us that we would leave this place with a new level of freedom as we walk this out this week. We love you, Lord.

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