In Choice 6, we’re going to work on making “corrections” in some of our relationships by doing some relational repair work that involves a two-part process. We’ll start by looking at what’s involved in forgiving those who have hurt us, and then we’ll work on making amends for those we have hurt.
At the end of this message, we’ll hear from Heidi as she shares a bit of her story with us.
He heard something crash hard against the tile floor. So he stuck his head out of his office and yelled across the living room and into the kitchen. What was that? A small panic voice shouted back, Nothing, nothing, Daddy. Nothing. He was elbow deep in paying bills. All he wanted to do was get this monthly, labor intensive chore wrapped up. So he rolled his chair back up to his desk and dove back into the dizzying circus of budgets and bank accounts. Minutes later, a little girl's fist knocked against the doorframe, interrupting his concentration. Honey, Daddy's really busy. He looked up and he met the tear filled brown eyes of his seven year old. She was holding a blood soaked napkin around her finger and her face was covered with a mix of guilt, fear and pain. Lily, what happened? She just burst into tears and grabbed him around the neck. When they got the cut cleaned up and properly banded. She had settled down enough for him to get the story out of her. She told him that she knocked a bowl off the counter and broke it into several pieces. So she quietly got out the glue and picked up the shattered fragments off the floor and tried to fix it without him knowing.
But when she reached for the bowl, a broken edge sliced into her pinkie. She said, I just didn't want you to be mad, but it hurt too much. Daddy, I'm sorry. Lily hugged him hard and began to cry again. As he hugged her back, he felt a protective fatherly emotion that banished, busted dishes and unfinished bills into irrelevant oblivion. All that he felt were the honest tears of his child on his shoulder and the joy of knowing that his love was comfort enough to calm her guilt, fear, and pain. So we made it all the way to choice number six in our Life's Healing Ch choices series. And the choice you're going to hear about tonight is all about repairing something much more valuable than a broken glass bowl. Choice six is all about repairing relationships. In this choice, we choose to, and you can see this on your outline highlighted in grey, we choose to evaluate all our relationships, offer forgiveness to those who have hurt us, and make amends for harm we've done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others. In choice six, we're working on making corrections in some of our relationships by doing some relational repair work.
We'll do that by working through a two part process. We'll start off by looking at what's involved in forgiving those who've hurt us, and then we're going to take a look at what's involved in making amends to those that we've hurt. As we go, please keep this in mind, repairing relationships is not an exercise in fixing those that we've hurt or fixing those who have hurt us. All we need to focus on in the relationship repair process is our part of the problem. Our higher powers Jesus Christ is the only one that can restore the shattered past. Our job is to bring the broken pieces to Jesus, allowing him to heal and comfort, reconcile and redeem. There are two beatitudes that guide us in our sixth choice that Marnan had just read for us. Matthew 5, 7 says, blessed are the merciful. Matthew 5, 9 says, blessed are the peacemakers. When we are merciful to others, we are willing to forgive them whether they deserve it or not. That's what mercy is about, it's undeserved. When we work to make peace, we put out real effort to make amends where we have wronged someone and we work to bring harmony back into that relationship.
This choice and these beatitudes are all about repairing relationships. In this lesson, we're going to look back on our lives for the purpose of evaluating, not regretting. We'll learn how to repair the damage that others have done to us and that we have done to others. Let's begin with forgiving others for the wrongs that they've done against us. But why should you do this and how do you do it? Two good questions. Why should you forgive others? I'm going to give you four reasons why you should forgive other people when they have sinned against you. But it is very important that these four reasons are framed in a very particular way. There's one main reason why you should forgive others and three sub reasons. The three sub reasons serve as a explanation as to why the main reason is so good. These three sub reasons are always subservient to the main reason. If you are a Christian and you leave here tonight with anything, I want you to remember the main reason why we forgive other people when they sinned against us. So go ahead and write this down as the first film on your outline.
The main reason you should forgive others is because Jesus tells you to. In Mark 11, verse 25, Jesus says, And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive them. This is a mic drop verse for the Christian when it comes to answering the question, why should I forgive that person? The answer for the Christian, because Jesus told us to. I hope you know this about our church. Our doors are open here at Gospel City Church for anyone to come from any background with any belief system. Anyone can come to experience what we get to experience here on Sunday night. But in case anyone was curious, this isn't a country club. This isn't a big self help group meeting. What we do here on Sunday night isn't an NA or an AA meeting. This is a church. Gospel City Church belongs to Jesus. Jesus Christ is the highest power and authority over and above every and any other power and authority that exists. Jesus is the Lord of all of us who call on his name. That means if King Jesus tells us to do something, that's all the information I need. It doesn't matter what the sub reasons are.
It doesn't matter what our feelings are. The main reason is enough for us. We do anything Jesus says just because he said to do it. Now, as a side note, this main reason why we should forgive people because Jesus tells us to is the exact same reason why Christians should get baptized after they believe in Jesus. There are some great sub reasons for getting baptized. The physical act of baptism is an illustration of what Jesus did for us. It's a picture of his death, burial, and resurrection. It's also a picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of the one getting baptized. Baptism is a way for the Christian to identify themselves as a follower of Jesus after they become a Christian. How did people know who became a Christian back in the first century? Everybody knew because they would get baptized. There's one, there's another, there's a third, fourth, and on, and on, and on. And baptism is an invitation to the church to now treat you as a disciple. Your baptism invites us to now begin teaching you to obey everything that Jesus has commanded us. That's what a person's baptism communicates to the church.
All great biblical reasons to get baptized, right? But none of them are the main reason you get baptized. What's the main reason a Christian should get baptized? Yeah, if you were here with us last week, you would have heard Jeff Allen share his testimony with us before he got baptized. N ear the end of his testimony, he gave us his reason for getting baptized. Here's a quote from his testimony. I want to be baptized today because Jesus says we should when we become a Christian, and I want to obey Jesus. That's beautiful, isn't it? The main reason you get baptized after you become a Christian is because Jesus tells you to. That's the same reason why any Christian should forgive others, because Jesus tells us to. That's it. If Jesus is our Lord, that should be good enough. But because Jesus is so awesome, he gives us three sub reasons for forgiving people. These three sub reasons I'm going to share with you right now highlight just how good the main reason is. Subreason number one, you can write this down on your outline, you should forgive others because God has forgiven you. You should forgive others because God has forgiven you.
God is not asking you to forgive someone else before you've been forgiven. He's not asking you to pour a cup of coffee out of a pot that's empty. God has poured his radical forgiveness into your life. Now all he's doing when he's asking you to forgive is to give others what you've already been given by him. The Bible says in Colossians 3, verse 13, Bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if anyone has a grievance against another, just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. When you remember how much God has forgiven you, it makes it a whole lot easier for you to forgive others. The Bible also says in Ephesians 4, starting in verse 31, Let all bitterness, anger, and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice, and be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. You forgive as Christ forgave you. You will never have to forgive anybody else more than God had to forgive you. Do you remember how Jesus forgave you? It's so sweet. He didn't count your sins against you.
He didn't make you pay for your sins. He ate them. He took them himself so that you could go free. You didn't deserve that kindness, and yet the King of glory lavished that kindness upon you. When you have a hard time forgiving someone else, it's usually because you don't feel forgiven. People who feel forgiven find it easier to be forgiving. If you don't feel forgiven, look again at the verses in Colossians and Ephesians. Better yet, contemplate these verses every day of your life, just as the Lord has forgiven you and forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. If you accepted Christ back in choice number 3, you are forgiven. Amen. It's a done deal. Now he asks you to turn around and forgive others. Your sub reason number 2, you could write this down on your outline. You should forgive others because resentment doesn't work. The second sub reason you need to forgive those who have hurt you is purely practical. Resentment doesn't do what you think it does. Holding on to resentment is unreasonable, unhelpful, and unhealthy. It's unreasonable. The Bible says it plainly, Job 5, verse 2, for anger kills a fool and jealousy slays the gullible.
Another translation puts it this way, to worry yourself to death with resentment would be a foolish senseless thing to do. Why is holding on to resentment foolish and senseless? Well, the practical answer is that you're only hurting yourself with your anger. Job 18, verse 4 says, You who terror yourself in anger. Resentment rips you apart much more than the person you resent. Think about it. When you're angry and resentful towards someone, you're not hurting them, you're only hurting yourself. You're the one who's stewing, spewing, stressing, and fretting. You're the one who's losing sleep and being distracted from all the joys in life. It's not bothering them at all. They're probably sleeping great. They're probably aren't even aware of all the huffing and puffing that's going on inside of you. They're probably oblivious to all of it. Someone may have hurt you 10, 20, even 30 years ago, and you're still hurting yourself over it. It's still making you miserable, but they've probably forgotten all about it. So from a purely practical point of view, resentment is totally unreasonable. It's an irrational waste of energy that makes no sense at all. Resentment is also unhelpful. It's unhelpful because it cannot change the past.
It cannot change the problem, and it cannot change the person who hurt you. It doesn't even hurt the person who hurt you. It only hurts you. Resentment certainly doesn't make you feel better. Have you ever known anyone to say, You want to know what? I feel so much better being resentful right now, right in the second. Ten out of ten. Resentment just makes you mad and unhappy. And resentment is unhealthy. Job 21, verse 23 says, One person dies in excellent health, completely secure and at ease. His body is well fed and his bones are full of marrow. Yet another person dies with a bitter soul, having never tasted prosperity. Resentment is like a cancer that eats you alive. It's an emotional poison with physical consequences. If you ever said of anyone, That person is a real pain in the neck. I wonder if you've ever stopped to think that your resentment against him or her might be actually causing that real pain in your neck. Because resentment has emotional and physical consequences. It can lead to depression, stress, and fatigue. Nothing drains you emotionally like bitterness and resentment. Continuing to replay the hurt you received from that teacher, or that relative, or that business associate, or former husband or wife allows them to continue hurting you emotionally and physically today.
It simply prolongs the hurt. It's an emotional suicide. In the beatitudes, paired with this lesson, Jesus shows us a better way. He says, blessed or happy are the merciful. Blessed or happy are the peacemakers. Mercy and peace. Subreason number 3, you can write this down. You should forgive others because you will need forgiveness in the future. You're going to need it. Guaranteed, we will all need God's and others forgiveness at some point down the road. Mark 11, verse 25, Jesus says, And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him so that your father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing. Resentment can be a barrier to experiencing God's forgiveness in our life. The Bible says that you cannot receive what you are unwilling to give. Matthew 6 12, we pray and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. It could be a dangerous thing to pray the Lord's prayer. In it you're praying, Lord, forgive me as much as I forgive everybody else. You want nothing short of his complete and full forgiveness. So the obvious implication is that you must extend nothing less to those who have sinned against you.
There's a story about a man in the 1700s who went to a famous preacher named John Wesley and said to him, I can never forgive that person. Never. John Wesley replied, Then I hope you never sin because we all need what we don't want to give. Don't burn the bridge that you need to walk across. Now, to be clear, the New Testament is clear. You can do nothing to earn God's free gift of forgiveness into your life. That means that you don't have to forgive others before God will forgive you. You don't have to forgive others in order to receive God's free gift of forgiveness. What these verses in Matthew and Mark are getting at is that if you are unwilling to forgive another person who sinned against you, that might, and I say might, be an indication that you have not yet received the forgiveness of God into your own life. There's a saying in recovery, it goes like this, hurt people, hurt people. The same can be said of forgiveness. Forgiven people, forgive people. I know that nobody's perfect, and that includes Christians. No Christian is perfect. That means there is plenty of room for us to wrestle with Jesus' command to forgive others.
None of us is going to do this perfectly. Now, I can't look into any of your hearts. Only Jesus can do that. But I can wonder out loud, and I will. If someone professes to be a follower of Jesus, and if they claim to have believed in him for the forgiveness of their sins, and if they claim to have the Spirit of Christ living in them, and yet they refuse to forgive someone else who has sinned against them, I have to wonder if they have truly experienced the forgiveness of Jesus in their life. Because even though it may be hard, those who have been forgiven by Jesus will forgive others like Jesus has forgiven them. Forgiving others is one of the litmus tests of genuine Christianity. This doesn't mean that for one second that forgiving others is easy in every situation. It's not. That's why we need Jesus' help to do it. So how do you forgive those who have hurt you? These three R's can show you how. Reveal, release, and replace. Let's look at these one at a time. Number one, and you can write this down on your outline, reveal your hurts.
Reveal your hurts. As we've seen over the last several weeks in this series, you have some options when it comes to dealing with your hurts. You can repress them and pretend that they don't exist, but they do. You can ignore them and try pushing them out of the way, but that never works because those hurts always pop up in some form of compulsion. You can suppress them and say, That's no big deal. It doesn't matter. They did the best they could. No, they didn't. Those people hurt you. Or you can do what works. You could admit them. You can reveal the truth that you hurt. You can't get over the hurt until you admit that you have been hurt. So why is it that we don't want to admit that people we love have caused us pain? Maybe it's because we have this misconception that you can't love somebody and be angry with them at the same time. The truth is you can. A woman in a counseling session insisted, I forgive my parents. They did the best they could. But the more she talked, the more obvious it became that she hadn't really forgiven them.
She was angry with them and she was denying her anger. The truth was her parents didn't do the best they could. None of us do the best that we can. Your parents didn't. And if you're a parent like me, we're not doing the best we can in each and every situation. Let's just be honest about it. We're all imperfect and we all make mistakes. When this woman was able to admit that her parents didn't do the best they could, then she was able to forgive them. And if you want to close the door on your past and get closure so certain people don't hurt you anymore, you can do it. But there's one thing you have to remember. There's no closure without disclosure. First, you have to admit it. Diane liked that one, the rhyme. I always can count on Diane. First, you must admit it or reveal it by owning up to the truth. What that person did to me was wrong and it hurt me. Once you've revealed the hurt, then you're going to be in a position to forgive them. You can't forgive a hurt that you won't admit exists. Number two, write this down, release the offender.
Release the offender. release the offender. The second step in forgiving someone who has sinned against you is releasing him or her. You may have some questions about how this works. When do I do it? When do I forgive the one who has hurt me? The answer is that you do it now. You don't wait for them to ask for forgiveness. You make the choice to do it independently of the other person. You do it whether the person asks for forgiveness or not. You do it for the four reasons we looked at earlier in this lesson. Because Jesus told you to, because God is forgiving you, because resentment doesn't work, and because you are going to need forgiveness yourself in the future. So you release your offender and you forgive them for their sake, but also for your own. Well, how often do I have to do it? Well, Jesus was asked this very same question by the Apostle Peter. Matthew 18, verse 21 to 22 says, Then Peter approached him and asked, Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? As many as seven times? I tell you, not as many as seven, Jesus replied, but 70 times seven.
Jesus is saying that forgiveness must be continual. We must forgive as many times as we are sinned against. Now, this doesn't mean that we can't establish healthy boundaries in our life when it comes to certain people who have broken our trust and who continue to sinned against us. We should have healthy boundaries relationally. But that doesn't negate this fact that no matter how many times someone sins against us, we must forgive them if we are a disciple of Jesus. Well, how will I know that I've fully released an offender? Well, you'll know when you can think about him or her and it doesn't hurt anymore. You'll know when you can pray for God's blessing on his or her life. When you can begin to look at and understand the hurt he or she feels rather than focusing on how you've been hurt, remembering that hurt people hurt people. You may not be able to forget completely what they've done, and you probably won't. But you can release the offender and let go of the pain. Is it always wise to release an offender face to face? Not always. And in some cases, it's not even possible to go back to the people who have hurt you.
You might not be able to find some of the other people, even if you wanted to. They may have remarried, moved away, or even died. What do you do in those situations? Well, there are two techniques you can use. One is called the empty chair technique. You sit alone with an empty chair and you imagine the person you need to forgive sitting in that chair and you say, I need to say some things to you. Here's how you hurt me. And you lay it out. You hurt me this way, this way and this way. But I want you to know I forgive you because Jesus has told me to, because God has forgiven me, because resentment doesn't work, and because I'm going to need forgiveness in the future. I'm releasing you. Another technique is to write a letter that you will never mail. In this letter, you put down in black and white how you've been hurt. This is how you hurt me. You've been carrying the hurt so long now is the time to unload it. And you can do that by letting it out in a letter. At the end, you say, But starting today, I forgive you because God's told me to, because he's forgiven me, because resentment doesn't work, and because I'm going to need forgiveness in the future too one day.
And you do it for their sake and for your own. You release your offenders so that you can experience freedom and you release them to bless them. Number three, go ahead and write this down. Replace your hurt with God's peace. With God's peace. At some point, I know it, all this free forgiveness is going to start to sound a little unfair. If I forgive this person, especially if I forgive my offender without him asking for forgiveness or without me ever confronting her face to face, then she gets off scotfree, doesn't she? I've been hurt and this person suffered no consequences. We need to relax and we have to let God settle the score. He can do a whole lot better job than we can anyway. The Bible says in Romans 14, starting in verse 10, For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God, for it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me. Every tongue will give praise to God. So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Not scary if you're a Christian, terrifying if you're not one. We see here that there's a day coming when God is going to settle the score.
He's going to call all things into account. He's going to balance the books one day. He's going to have the last word. He'll take care of every wrongdoing that has seemed to go unpunished. He's the judge and he's just. When we learn to release our offenders and allow God to be in charge of settling scores, then we'll discover the wonderful blessing of his peace. The Bible tells us, too, in Colossians 3, verse 15, Let the peace of Christ rule your heart. You get to choose what rules your heart. It can be the misery of unfor forgiveness or the peace of Christ. The fact is relationships can tear your heart into pieces, but God can glue those pieces back together and cover your heart with his peace. When you forgive those who have hurt you, God is free to do the needed repair in your heart. I'm going to read for you right now one of the best examples of forgiveness that I've ever seen. It's a letter written by a son to his mother. It goes like this, Dear mom, this is long overdue. I'm not sure what's taken me so long to write you.
Well, that's not quite true. There are many reasons. I've started writing to you in the past, but I'd get stuck and quit. Maybe I wasn't ready before now. It's probably best that I waited. I've been working my recovery. I've finally found the clarity to be honest with myself, to be honest with you. It's been 20 years since I walked out of your apartment. An angry, lost, wounded teenager jumped into my car and took off. I've never looked back until now. I've regrettably blamed you for the many messes I have made in life. Maybe I blamed you because then I wouldn't have to clean them up. The divorce in grade school, the moving from house to house, the many relationships you got into and out of, had an effect on me beyond what I think you're willing to admit. Your decisions impacted many people. Your decisions impacted me, and I hated you for it. I protected and forgave you until something broke that night, nearly two decades ago. It seems like I've been limping emotionally since then. Anger toward you has always seemed a safe place to store and release my pain. I'm not sure when it stopped working.
I imagine it never really did work. In looking back at 20 years of hating you, I've seen a heart hardened toward a mom who was just as broken and lost as I was. I've also seen a heart hardened toward everyone, including God. I think it makes sense to me now what Jesus said in Matthew 6, that if I do not forgive, I won't be forgiven. It's not that God can't forgive me, it's that my heart is not breathing when I have un forgiveness. I'm not inhaling grace, I'm not exhaling grace. Without forgiveness, my heart has been dead. Sometimes I see someone who reminds me of you. I often look at my daughters and wonder what it would be like for them to know their grandma, Chrissy. In some ways, I still can't believe you're gone. You are so alive, larger than life. Your laugh was loud and unashamed. I hear your laugh in Rose, my youngest. I'm sorry, mom. I will not blame you for my choices. I believe your choices, even the bad ones, are being redeemed in my life for God's glory. I'm sorry I wasted the time we had here together being angry.
My comfort and hope is that we will see each other again where there will be no more pain and no more tears. My sponsor and I are going to decide what to do with this letter. You are never far from my thoughts. I love you, mom. Before we move on now to the second part of repairing relationships, let's just quickly review choice six. I choose to evaluate all my relationships, offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me, and make amends for harm I've done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others. With this in mind, let's move on to the second part of the second parts of relationship mending. Because repairing relationships is a two part process. Because the truth is, not only have people hurt you, you have hurt other people. We've talked about forgiveness. The second part is now making amends. Merriam Webster defines making amends as to do something to correct a mistake that one has made or a bad situation that one has caused. When you make amends, you go further than just saying, I'm sorry. You acknowledge your errors and take action to make up for what has happened in the past.
As painful as making amends may seem, it's absolutely essential. Dealing with the root of your problems means dealing with unresolved relationships. Until you do this, recovery can't happen. Here's a quote from John Baker. He says, When I got to this choice, I had a lot of work to do. I had quite a long list of names of people to whom I needed to make my amends. Over the years of making poor choices, I had heard a lot of people. They ranged from former employees and employers to friends and neighbors. But the most special amends I needed to make were to my family. I had caused them a lot of pain and heartache, but they graciously accepted my amends. And after a period of time, our relationships were restored. Today, those relationships are stronger and more loving than I could have ever hoped for or deserved. Making amends is such a big deal that Jesus says this in Matthew Chapter 5, starting in Verse 23, So if you are offering your gift on the altar and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.
First, go and be reconciled with your brother or sister and then come offer your gift. Jesus is saying that fixing your relationship is so important that you can't worship God vertically if there are unaddressed issues in your relationships with other people horizontally. Jesus says, Stop worshiping God if you have relationship problems that need to be fixed. That's a big deal. One of our attitudes for this choice says blessed are the peacemakers. Making amends is making peace. The Bible places a high priority on getting things right in our relationships. Listen to what the author of Hebrew says, Chapter 12, Verse 14, Pursue peace with everyone and holiness. Without it, no one will see the Lord. Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and defiling many. One of the reasons you can't let go of that hurt or get past that hang up or get over that habit is that when you hold on to unresolved relationships, bitterness takes root in your heart and causes all kinds of trouble. These unresolved relationships must be dealt with if you're going to get on with your recovery and enjoy the blessing that comes from being merciful and making peace, as our beatitudes say.
We talked a little bit about why we need to make amends. Now we're going to talk about the hard part. How do we do it? How do you make amends to someone you've sinned against? Well, the Bible has a great piece of advice on keeping peace with others. It says in Romans chapter 12, verse 18, If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Keep this in mind as you work the steps of making amends to those you've hurt. Do what you can. The Scripture says, If possible, as far as it depends on you, you are only responsible for what you do. You are not responsible for how the person you approach responds to your amends. So how do you make amends of the people you've hurt? Number one, make a list of those you've harmed and what you did. You'll do the actual hands on work for this choice and then make the choice action steps found at the end of your message outline. But let's think of a couple of things as we introduce this idea. First, a word of caution briefly. As you start listing people you need to make amends to, your mind may immediately jump to, how on earth am I going to pull this off?
Don't worry about the how to's right now. Don't travel down that mental road of how will I ever ask forgiveness of my ex spouse? Or how can I pay back the money I stole from my dad? Just write the names down and the how to will come later. Second, some of you may be saying, I can't think of anybody I've hurt. Well, that's adorable. That's you. In the make the choice section at the end of your outline, you're going to find some questions to help you get started. Getting the names and the fences down in black and white is an important first step in making things right with those you've wronged. Then number two, think about how you'd like someone to make amends to you. Most of us have heard these words from Jesus before. Matthew 7, verse 12, Whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them. So stop and think, if someone were going to come and apologize to me, how would I want it done? Here are four things that might affect how you want it done. Number one, think about your timing. There's a time to let things happen and a time to make things happen.
There are right times and wrong times to make amends. You don't just drop a bomb on somebody. You don't just bring up a sensitive topic when they're rushing up the door or as they're laying their head down on their pillow at bedtime. Hey, by the way, I got some stuff to deal with and it involves you. You do it according to what works best for the other person, not when it's best for you. Ecclesiastes 3, verse 1 says there's an occasion for everything and a time for every activity under heaven. Number 2, think about your attitude. Think about how you would like somebody to apologize to you. There are three things to consider. First, you want to do it privately. Choose your time and place carefully and consider what will make the other person the most comfortable. Second, do it with humility. Sincerely and simply say what you did wrong. Don't make any justification for your actions or attitude. Offer no excuses. Just humbly acknowledge your part in the problem and assume whatever responsibility belongs to you. The other person may have had a part in the problem too, but you're just trying to clean up your side of the ledger.
Third, really important, do it without any expectations. Don't expect anything back from the person you're trying to make amends to. If the other person doesn't acknowledge his or her responsibility or apologize to, who cares? The actual heart change is not about them at the end of the day, it's about you doing what's right. And number three, think about appropriateness. There might be some situations when contacting the one you've hurt would be unwise. Remember the qualifier in choice 6, accept one to do so would harm them or others. In some situations, trying to make amends would be inappropriate because it would open up a whole can of worms and probably make the situation worse. In some cases, you could harm an innocent party as well as the person you intended to make amends to. In some cases, you wouldn't want to go back to an old boyfriend or girlfriend who is now married. If you were involved in an affair, in some cases, it would be inappropriate to have further contact with that person. When it comes to making amends, the most important thing is that you become willing to make amends, be willing to do whatever it takes to make something right.
But once you are willing, it is equally important that you determine if making amends face to face is the wisely thing to do, if it's really appropriate. If you're not sure whether or not you should attempt to make an immense with someone face to face, ask for some help. Get counsel from your accountability partner, a Christian counselor, and or the elders of the church. Ask them to see if seeking a face to face meeting is the most appropriate thing to do. What do you do if you come to the conclusion that you shouldn't seek out a face to face meeting to make your amends? Well, once again, you can use the empty chair and the unmailed letter technique. And again, you can ask for help from your accountability partner or your pastor to figure out which one to do. Consider the situation, consider the person and try to make amends in the way that's best for him or her. Number four is think about restitution. Make restitution wherever possible. If you've borrowed something and not return it, return it. If you owe somebody some money, pay it back, even if it takes a long time.
The Bible tells us about a guy named Zacheas who made restitution in his life. He was a tax collector. In Bible times, tax collectors could charge people as much as they could get from them. A fter paying Rome, they got to keep what was left over. As a consequence, they were the most hated people in society. But of all people Jesus could have visited, he chose to go and see Zakias. Meeting Jesus changed Zakias' life. And with that life change, he decided to make restitution for everything he ever cheated anyone of. In fact, he decided to restore everything four times what he had taken. This guy was willing to put his money where his mouth was by making restitution. Again, the more serious your offence, the less likely you might be able to make restitution. There are some things you can't restore, but do not underestimate the power of a sincere apology. Here's what you do, discern the right time, put on the right attitude, be sure making contact is appropriate. Then say something like, I'm sorry, I was wrong, I don't deserve your forgiveness, but is there any way I can make restitution to you? And you go from there and you may end up just leaving it at that. L astly, when you go through the process of making amends, you have an incredible opportunity to write this down on your outline, refocus your life.
Today can be a new day. Starting today, you can refocus your life on doing God's will in your relationships. As long as you focus on the past, you allow the past to control you. The good news is this, God wants to deal with all of the relational garbage in your life once and for all. He knows when you can handle it and how much you can handle at a time. He takes the garbage off one layer at a time. When you committed your life and will to Christ and making choice three, a layer came off. As time goes on, God keeps dealing with you, working with you, releasing you from your hurts, hangups, and habits. As you make this sixth choice, forgiving those who have hurt you and making amends to those you've hurt, God begins to recycle the relational garbage of your life and use it for good. And you can begin to experience what the Apostle Paul says, once again in Colossians 3 15, let the peace of Christ rule your hearts. If you've made it this far and you've worked through the first five choices of this series, you've made a lot of progress towards becoming the healthy and whole individual God has created you to be.
The two-part process in choice six will bring you even closer to that goal. For in it you will find the healing of relationships and broken relationships lie at the root of so much of our pain. But the choices in this lesson can't be made alone. You need God's help to follow through. So we're going to ask him for help. We're going to pray and ask God to help us to both forgive those who have hurt us and make amends to those whom we have hurt. So let's just do that, okay? Let's pray. You can pray your own words as you ask God for help, or you can pray this prayer with me that I'm going to pray. Just pray this in the quiet of your heart if you want to make these words your own. Dear God, you have shown me that holding on to resentment for the wrongs done to me and refusing to make right my own wrongs has crippled me, emotionally and spiritually and even physically. I ask you today to help me be honest about the hurts I feel. I've stuffed some and ignored others, but now I'm ready to come clean and tell the truth about my pain.
As I do, I ask that you give me the strength and the courage so that I can release those who have hurt me and let go of my resentment toward them. Only by your power will I be able to do this, Lord. I pray also that you will give me the courage and discernment to know how to make amends to those I've hurt. Help me to be as honest as I can as I look back and remember and guide me as I find the ways to make restitution where appropriate. Finally, I pray that I could begin a new life today as I refocus my life on doing your will in my relationships. Help me set aside my selfishness and set my whole heart on you. I know I have a long way to go, but I want the promise that the Apostle Paul talks about. I want your peace to rule my heart. Amen. Amen.
With that said, I'm going to invite Heidi to come up and she's going to share a little bit of her testimony with us in this area of extending and receiving grace. Today's message is all about the forgiveness choice.
Would you be willing to share an example from your life where you were faced with the choice to forgive someone?
If you were here last week or listen online, you would have heard Kyle share some of his story through his struggle with just an addiction with pornography and with drug abuse. Kyle's my husband, and I just thought it would be fitting for me to just share my side of what that story looked like and on that path of forgiveness. So Kyle and I had been married five and a half years. And like he shared last week, he had relapsed twice during our marriage. And that happened in year two and year four. And it was like he said last week, it was devastating to our marriage. The second time, more so than the first time because we had come so far after that first time and we were able to heal and there was forgiveness there. And for it to happen the second time, it was just another just blow. And honestly, forgiveness was not even at the forefront of my mind at that time.
What did it look like to make the choice to forgive? How was God at work in your heart in this decision?
Like I said, that first while was hard. It was messy. Kyle was going through all his stuff, his emotions, his feelings, and I'm going through mine. We're trying to live together. It was awkward. We tried to have conversations. They just ended poorly and just left us both feeling pretty hopeless. And it caused me to feel a lot of anger towards him. Just the betrayal of trust. And like you just said, bitterness and resentment were just... I was starting to go down that path. And yeah, it was just really tough for the both of us. But in the back of my mind, I knew the Lord was working. I kept it in the back of my mind because all I could see was anger. But he was so gracious to us in that time. He, in various ways would just give us his presence. And even just tangible things, he set Kyle up with a strong biblical male counselor where he was able to start a 10-week session just right off the bat. I stumbled upon testimonies of people going through the same stuff that we were, and that was just so ministering to my heart.
The Lord met me in my daily devotions every morning. And so it was simultaneously happening. I was God's Grace in times when we needed it the most. But I was still angry and I couldn't really get out of it. It wasn't until I met up with one of my dear sisters in Christ, and we've been doing ministry and life together for over 10 years, and we know each other so well, and I'm able to share just the ugliest parts of me with. And we were sitting in my car one day, and I'm just sharing with her, and I'm just like, Wow. This is all the stuff that's happening inside of my head. And after she listened to me, she understood where I was coming from. She could sympathize with what I was sharing. And after she did that, she challenged me. And she said, You're saying all these things, and I totally understand. And you're saying I don't know how to move forward. That's what I was. I was like, I don't know what to do. What do I do next? And she said, What would it look like to do it today? It doesn't have to be tomorrow, it doesn't have to be next month.
But what would it look like to take just one step forward, one act of grace towards Kyle? What do you think that could look like? And she said, It's not going to feel good. It's probably going to suck. But you're saying these things, right? And so what would that look like? And I'm actually reading a book right now by Tim Keller, and it's called Forgive. And when I knew I was going to share tonight, I actually started reading it a couple of weeks ago. And he sums it up way better than I could. And this is what it reminds me of just in this moment. He said forgiveness is inwardly giving up the desire to get even. To forgive is to give the person a gift they do not in any way deserve. In love, you are absorbing the debt that they owe you. Here, you are truly walking in Christ's footsteps. For forgiveness is always a form of voluntary suffering that brains about a greater good. It is not primarily and originally an emotion. For forgiveness is granted before it is felt, not felt before it is granted. For forgiveness is a promise we make to keep despite our feelings.
It is likely you have always thought, this is what I thought, well, I have to feel it before I grant it. I have to start feeling less angry before I start to not hold them liable. And if you wait to feel it before you grant it, you'll never grant it, and you'll be in an anger prison. And that's exactly where I was. I just couldn't see past my own hurt. And yeah, it was just that's all I could see. And when she said that to me in the car that day, it resonated with me. That's what I needed. I needed the Lord to send me something or someone to shake me out of this, right? And I did. And that's what I started doing. And so in various ways, I just started doing these acts of grace to Kyle. And with each step forward that I took, I started to be less angry. It just started to subside. And I was able... The Lord just opened my eyes to even not just see my pain, I saw his pain. And that just led me down this path of forgiveness to him. So it was just that one inch forward and God's grace to do the next and God's grace to do the next and God's grace to do the next.
And he did that for us. Praise God.
That's awesome. In today's message, we also heard about our own need to ask for forgiveness from others and make amends. Would you be willing to share a bit about what that has looked like for you?
Oh, yeah. It's not funny. It's interesting that when sin is done against us... Well, when it was done against me, it affected me. It wasn't always done against me, but it affected me that it brought up a lot of sin in my own life. And that played out in our marriage even afterwards. Even up until this day, there's triggers that I'll get and I'll have to ask him, which I know it doesn't feel good for him when I have to just make sure, Hey, are you good? All these things. And what I needed to ask for forgiveness for was my reactions to him. And it's more about in the everyday day-to-day stuff. So it was like in confrontations or marital stuff that we go through in day-to-day. I've had to ask for forgiveness a lot. I think we're both doing that way better even because all this, we've been through a lot in only five and a half years. And the Lord has brought us through so much already that we actually do a marriage check-in every week. And so we literally go through, it's called a marriage checklist. And one of those questions is, do you have any unrepented sin to confess to one another?
We do this weekly. I hate that question. I hate getting to that question. I'm like, just ask it now. Just ask it first. Let's just start with that. But it's been so fruitful for us, and it's changed us in our marriage. And I think because of what we've gone through and what we're just continuing to fight for is just unity. And the Lord has really just met us in that place.
One last question. For forgiveness doesn't always feel like an easy choice. What encouragement would you give to someone who is scared to make the decision to forgive?
I'd probably be speaking mostly to the Christian for this one. Because we are Christians, we have the Holy Spirit in us, and that having the Holy Spirit in us is power, and he gives us that power to forgive. And if anyone just hearing this story now feels like they were where I was, you're just stuck, you're just angry, you don't know what to do next. Take that first step. Despite your feelings, and it might not feel good, but when you do, your feelings will eventually catch up and God's grace will meet you there.
That's amazing. Thank you, Heidi, for coming up and sharing.