Monday, August 16, 2010

Barriers to forgiveness

There are a lot of barriers that keep us from forgiving others. The following is a portion of a sermon from Ed Young where he talks about barriers to forgiveness. I just copied and pasted his sermon, so I want to make sure I give him credit (actually, a lot of what we're talking about in our series I learned from him). As you read ask yourself: What barriers are keeping me from forgiving those who have hurt me? Here are a few.


One is the self-deception barrier. We rationalize. We tell ourselves rational lies. We just say, “You know, what I did to that person is no big deal. Man, they totally overreacted. They’re an emotional basket case, anyway. It wasn’t that big of a deal. It was a long time ago.” Or we say, “What my mother did to me...? Yes, she was an alcoholic, but it didn’t really affect me, you know. I’ve just brushed that under the rug. I’ve swept it under the rug. It doesn’t affect me. Yeah, what that coach, what that teacher said to me during my childhood and stuff...? The stuff that happened doesn’t really affect me today. I mean, I’m telling you it doesn’t. Everything’s fine in my life. I’m fine.” Be very careful. That’s a barrier.


Another barrier is the self-defense barrier. And that’s the one that we love. That’s probably our favorite one. We say, “I’m going to get you back. You messed me around. You hurt me. I’m going to get you back.”

I lived like that, as I told you, for like 24 months. I thought, “I’m going to get this guy back. I’m going to make him pay. I’m going to show him. Revenge. I’m going to do it. I’m going to take care of it.”

Have you ever stopped to realize this? Forgiveness is a great act of faith, because what we’re doing when we say, “Debt canceled. I forgive you. I release you..” What we’re doing is we’re saying, “God, you are the ultimate judge. God, I give the situation to you. You are going to take care of this person better than I can. God, I trust you.”

That’s why Romans 12:19 says, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

Yeah, but they started it. It was their deal. I know that. But our calling is to release them. Debt canceled. God will take care of them.


There’s another barrier—the self-image barrier. We say, “Hey, if you think I’m going to admit that I was wrong or I’m going to admit that they messed me around you’re wrong. I mean I’m up here and I’d have to lower myself. They might think less of me and they might think this or that about me.”

Hey, let me tell you something. We are at our strongest when we admit the obvious to God and to others. We are in a great position of strength and influence when we say, “Debt canceled. I forgive.”


There’s another barrier—the self-protection barrier. “I’m just going to protect myself,” you’re saying to yourself right now. And a lot of you are breaking out into a cold sweat just thinking about having to do the forgiveness work that needs to be done. You get nervous thinking about sitting across the table from someone who’s harmed you or maybe you’ve harmed them or sitting in someone’s family room and saying, “I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” Talking to a spouse or a child or anyone else just messes with your mind. Don’t let it be so.


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