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Emotionally Healthy Spirituality 5 Forgiveness

Review: Jesus was an emotional being.

I would argue that Jesus was a HIGHLY emotional being.

Joy, Hope, love, compassion, but also Overwhelm, deep sorrow, stress, anger, rage.

Spock. A lot of think of Jesus more like Spock. – Cold, distant, unmovable.

Jesus was an emotional being. Why? B/C he was a human being. That’s not to discount his divinity, Jesus was 100% God but he was also 100% human. But even God is an emotional being. Jesus as a human experienced the whole palette of human emotion. Pleasant and unpleasant. Positive and negative.

To be human is to feel.

And we, being made in his image, are deeply emotional.

So we as humans experience a whole range of emotion.

Some are positive, that we enjoy, like :

  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Hope
  • Gratitude
  • Relief
  • Calm.

Some are negative that we don’t enjoy.


All of these feelings.

Growing up a Christian, I wasn’t taught about emotional health.

I learned about: fellowship, accountability, theology, doctrine, apologetics, discipleship, prayer, devotionals, modesty, and leaving room fore the holy spirit when dancing.

But when it came to emotions, many Christians are taught that emotions are bad.

‘Fact over feeling’ always.

The book of Jeremiah : ‘The heart is deceitfully wicked.’

Don’t trust your heart ever! – Deny deny deny!


That IS a particular worldview, but that worldview is not called Christianity, it’s called STOICISM.

Stoicism and Christianity grew up around the same time.,

So they CAN be married together but they’re actually very different.

Stoicism – “the endurance of pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complaint.”

Literally being spock.

But that’s not Christianity.

The Bible doesn’t teach that all emotion is bad, nor do we see the heroes of our faith live without emotion.

And for the healthy Christian, emotions (even the bad ones) can be an incredible gift.

“Emotion is the cry of the soul.”

They’re like the lights on the dashboard of a car. You ignore them at your own peril. Emotions show what’s going on in your soul.

So the goal of the Christian faith is not to become less human, it’s to become fully human. To be a mature, self-aware, wise, Christ following human.

And that’s the idea of the series. To learn how to be self-aware, to learn how to be vulnerable, to learn how to grieve, to learn how to rest.

As we close the series tonight, I want to talk about something that is for many people, the most difficult idea in the whole series:


One reason many Christians are so unhealthy is because they are unwilling or unable to forgive. Or worse they don’t even realize they need to forgive.

Matthew 18: 21-35

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21)

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:22)

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. (Matthew 18:23)

As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. (Matthew 18:24)

Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. (Matthew 18:25)

“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ (Matthew 18:26)

The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. (Matthew 18:27)

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. (Matthew 18:28)

“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ (Matthew 18:29)

“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. (Matthew 18:30)

When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. (Matthew 18:31)

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. (Matthew 18:32)

Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ (Matthew 18:33)

In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. (Matthew 18:34)

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35)

You have to be a forgiver if you’re going to live free.

When you forgive, you set someone free: you. When you forgive, you break chains, and their the chains that are on you.

Recent study – Johns Hopkins University:

Our studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression and stress.

For the Christian:

  • We’re never more ‘God-like’ than when we forgive.
  • There’s nothing more beautiful than when we forgive.

Goldberg’s (pic)

My wife and I love this show called the Goldbergs. No one has ever even heard of it. Well it’s this cute little sitcom. We like it b/c it’s just uncomplicated and sweet, and everyone is happy at the end. One sibling reads the other ones diary, or the dad says something mean to the kid, and then at the end, everyone makes up and hugs and sweet music plays, and everyone’s happy.

What family friendly sitcoms are MOSTLY about: forgiveness.

Which brings us to the real world

Murder / Divorce / Rape / Manchester Bombing / Charleston Church Shooting / hashtag-blacklivesmatter / hashtag-Policelivesmatter / Bill Cosby

You can see: it stops being the obvious choice, and becomes a pretty major deliemma for the serious Christian.

The question is this? How does forgiveness work in the real world?

Is forgiveness just a nice idea that exists in the church? Or does forgiveness work in the horrific reality of the real world?

  • Is forgiveness always possible?
  • How far should we take it?
  • Are there extreme situations where forgiveness is not the right thing?
  • Enable – destructive behavior?
  • Are the some injustices that are so horrible that to forgive would also be an injustice?

Jesus talks about forgiveness A LOT

But for some reason, I think people put Jesus in a similar category as Full House. And by that I mean ‘Yeah that’s cool and all, but doesn’t apply to the REAL WORLD.’ But Jesus lived in the real world.

Peter ‘How many times do I forgive someone who sins against me? 7 times?”

Jesus “Try 70 x 7.”

Some translations: 77 times. Does anyone else find this strange. Like ‘Jesus why are you giving me math?!’

Not the only time this comes up. Jesus is doing something on purpose.

The phrase 70 x 7 didn’t originally refer to forgiveness, it was from a song of vengeance.

“Lamech’s (ley-mik) Song of the Sword”

Genesis – right after cains murder and exile.

Cain – decendants – Lamech – WARRIOR :

I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. (Genesis 4:23)

If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.” (Genesis 4:24)

We have almost NO background here. We don’t know what the guy did or anything.

But we know it’s about brutal vengance.

  • So there’s ‘normal’ style – eye for an eye.
  • Then there’s cain style – pay back 7 times.
  • Then there’s lamech style – pay back 70 times 7!!

But Jesus comes in with a new song. He replaces the song of Lamech with the song of the lamb.

Instead of being people of vengeance, we’ve become people of forgiveness. No matter how many times we’re wronged. Another place, Jesus says ‘if your brother sins against you 7 times IN ONE DAY, forgive them.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” (Ghandi)

Forgiveness is the center of the Christian faith. If the Christian faith isn’t about forgiveness, it’s not about anything.

“We are members of a kingdom governed by the politics of forgiveness and redemption.” (Stanley Hauerwas)


  • Lords prayer – Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
  • On the cross: Father forgive them, they know not what they do.
  • If I had to choose one moment as the center of the christian faith, it would be this moment.
  • On evening of resurrection If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
  • Apostles creed I believe in the forgiveness of sins.

A quick word on forgiveness and abuse

  1. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting.
  2. Forgiveness does not mean staying.
  3. Forgiveness does not mean being silent.

Nelson mandela walked out of prison vowing to forgive, but he never stopped speaking of injustice.

Christian forgiveness does not call us to forgot, or stay, or be silent, it calls us to stop the cycle of revenge.

Challenge Talking to a non-christian vs Christian friend and ask ‘What did Jesus teach? And then watch the second hand on your watch. Within 30 seconds, they will probably mention something about loving your enemies. And then go ask a Christian the same question, and you won’t need the second hand on your watch, you’ll need a sun dial. Prosperity, holiness, the end times, and if they ever get around to loving their enemies. Second hand on watch vs. calendar. The non-Christian here is correct.

Forgiveness is the great distinction of Jesus Christ.

It’s hard.

And it’s easy to point it out when you’re saying that other people should do it. It’s harder to say we should.

  • Do you believe that love is greater than hate?
  • Faith greater than fear?
  • Good is greater than evil?

In OUR world.

Where our odds of getting killed by a terrorist is astronomical.

You’re more likely to be fatally crushed by furniture than killed by a terrorist.

We DO face:

  • Backstabbers
  • Friends/Christians betrayed you
  • Ex-Husbands/Wives

If – serious – “Christian” wants to be healthy :

If you’re serious about being a Christian, you have to learn the art of forgiveness.



Forgiveness is simple. Not easy. Simple. Real Practical

Forgiveness comes in 2 phases.

1. The choice of forgiving.

This is where you make the choice. It’s like a when you decide to lose weight. You haven’t lost any.

2. The process of forgiving.

Hard. It’s like cancelling a debt. Like imagine we were kids at school and I walked up to you at lunch and poured my chocolate milk on your head. Well, you instantly get the feeling of me owing you. Right? Like if you could pour YOUR milk on MY head, then maybe we’d be cool. That’s what unforgiveness is.

Comes through prayer.

Here’s the process:

  1. Grieve if you need to grieve.
  2. Be Vulnerable with a trusted friend.
  3. Control your thought life.

WHY Forgive:

1. Believe it or not, forgiveness feels good.

No kidding. Forgiving feels so much better than harboring bitterness.

2. It stops you from reliving your pain over and over.

Unforgiveness requires that you keep replaying painful experiences over and over. Because bitterness requires fuel. So you have to keep it alive by thinking about it over and over.

3. It opens you up to the posibility of a happy life.

When you forgive, you life can start to be centered around other things: God, peace, love, friendship, romance, joy, all these great things that get swept under the rug when you’re in a place of unforgiveness.

4. Allows you to love again.

Forgivness is BRUTALLY hard, but it’s infinitely more valuable than the pain that comes with unforgiveness.

(Prepare – Communion)

Forgiveness is about believing that the cross of Jesus Christ is sufficient payment. Not only for everything you’ve done, but also for everything that’s been done to you.

It’s comes through constantly reminding yourself that love is the greatest power of all.

When all is said and done, the only thing that will matter is how you chose to play the hand you were dealt. Nothing else matters.

David Meyers story – HHGT When David Meyers told the story about him being really mad at his dad. His dad had some mental health issues and so there was portions of David’s life where he was absent for a long period of time and David told the story of him resenting it. But as soon as he got word that his dad was sick and was going to die, none of it mattered anymore.

“Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a better past.” (Anne Lamott)

The cross

No greater example of forgiveness than The cross. Jesus: Spit on me, kill me, I’ll die praying for your forgiveness. Rises again, still acting in forgiveness. In ancient world – God who we kill and he rises from the dead, he’s seeking vengeance on the ones who killed him.

The cross says we can do our worst to God and he will still return loving us.

It’s called Grace. Not worried – judgement day – maybe pass test. Beautiful idea – rebirth. — Fresh start. Not bound by who you were.

So we come. Forgiven forgivers.

As they pass

Is there hostility in me?

In what ways am I waiting to be “paid back”?


(Apostles Creed)

Confess the creed that the church has been confessing for nearly 2000 years.

(Pray) Jesus we believe that you show us who God is and who we’re called to be. And as we bless this bread and this cup, we believe that you’re forming us into people who honor you. With our lives and in our forgiveness of others. We recieve your forgiveness, and we vow to forgive.

Forgiven forgivers. And we say that we believe in you. And we trust you with our whole lives. And we thank you.