Where we end up in life is a result of the way we think. 

Proverbs 4:23 GNT, “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts”

  • We all have a desire to experience joy. 
  • But many times the devil robs us of our joy by consuming our thoughts with the offenses of others.
  • We have a daily choice to love and let go rather than hurt and hold on. 
  • God’s purpose for our life is too great to have our thoughts consumed by something so small. 

We ended last week with a prayer that we would fight for our joy, choose to forgive, and love like Jesus. 

Many of us have been hurt and experienced:

  • The feeling of betrayal 
  • That memory of being lied to or lied about 
  • The realization that you can’t trust someone you thought you loved
  • Being mistreated or taken advantage of 
  • Its a hurt. A deep hurt that many of us carry 

Truth is, each one of us sitting here in our homes, can probably think of an incident that has left us feeling like forgiveness feeling pretty far off. Like: 

  • How am I supposed to forgive when someone clearly doesn’t deserve to be forgiven? 
  • Or I’ve tried for years to forgive, but I just can’t seem to get there? 
  • Or honestly, I don’t feel like forgiving. So now what? 

If you’ve thought any of those…don’t worry…you’re not alone. 

Jesus taught on this very subject because He knew we would experience hurt. In fact, in the Bible, in Luke chapter 17, Jesus is talking to the disciples (those that were close and learning from Him), and he keeps it real and shares with them that really really hard things will come but when they come – HE calls them to forgive. Jesus knew that the joy they were longing for was on the other side of that forgiveness. 

Now Jesus calls them to forgive but that chapter in Luke isnt the only place we find this calling. In fact, 

  • In Matthew 5:43-44 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!
  • Proverbs 17:9 Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.
  • Ephesians 4:32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

We find that the message of Christianity is a message of forgiveness. That even on the cross in real-time Jesus with all he endured and took on Jesus spoke the words of forgiveness in saying father forgive them they don’t know what they are doing. We are called, with His help, to be an example of the beautiful forgiveness he has offered to us.

Showing the world forgiven people forgive. 

So how do we get there? How do we get there when the hurt is much deeper than a simple Facebook comment. To get there, to be an example of this forgiveness – we have to understand what forgiveness IS and what it is NOT. Hear me out on this: 

  • Forgiveness is not forgetting 
    • Being a doormat or sweeping something under the rug 
    • Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to act like nothing happened or that what someone did to you was okay
    • Forgiving is not forgetting and then placing yourself in places to get hurt again 
  • Forgiveness is not a feeling 
    • Forgiveness is a choice. Not an easy one. In fact it’s hard- CS Lewis says, “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.”
    • It’s hard to forgive – but its harder to not. Bitter never feels better. 

Forgiveness is not forgetting and nor is it a feeling. 

And while we have to know what forgiveness is NOT we MUST also understand what forgiveness IS. That in the deepest of hurts-

  • Forgiveness requires faith 
    • In Luke chapter 17 when Jesus is calling his disciples to forgive in verse 5, they realize it’s not easy and they say “Lord increase our faith” 
    • We need faith to forgive but we serve a God that is faithful to provide all you need  
  • Forgiveness brings freedom 
    • No longer have to be consumed with what they deserve – but rather you can be consumed by the joy you desire 
    • It doesn’t change what happened then, but it does change what’s to come
    • Forgiveness provides a future of freedom – and you deserve it 

In both little offenses and big betrayals – Love changes everything

So fight for your joy, friends. Choose to forgive. Love like Jesus. 

Hear these words from Numbers 6:24-26

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’ 

There is joy ahead.