Sermon by Dr. E. Dale Locke
Series: Letting Go, the Art of Forgiveness, Week 4 – “Moving On”
“Forgiveness is the one thing we can do that successfully unchains us from our past, invites God’s peace into our present, and gives God the space to shape our future into His glorious purpose.”
Dr. E. Dale Locke
So when we forgive, we’re doing three things at once:
- Getting unchained from our past
- Inviting God’s peace into our present
- Giving God space to shape our future into His glorious purpose
- True forgiveness involves 7 Steps broken into 3 Movements.
Pastor Trevor spoke on the first movement:
Movement 1: Preparing to Forgive
Step 1: Face the Facts
Step 2: Feel the Hurt
Step 3: Confront our Hate
Forgiveness is like brave spiritual surgery. It is letting the light of Christ expose even the darkest areas of our past that are the hardest to forgive.
Name one thing that stood out to you about the process of preparing to forgive.
- Last week, Pastor Dale added:
Movement 2: The Heart of Forgiveness
Step 1: Bear the Pain
Step 2: Release the Offender to God
Read Colossians 3:12-13 again:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
When we forgive, we choose to bear the pain of an offense without getting even. We give up our right to hurt back, breaking the cycle of sin and hurt. We choose to let God bring justice in His time and His way.
In this part of the sermon, Pastor Dale said: “Justice correctly rests with God, not with us.” What does that mean, and what are the practical implications of that for anyone who has been wronged?
- Today Pastor Dale spoke about the 2 steps of:
Movement 3: Moving On
Read Ephesians 4:32-5:2:
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
What thoughts or questions come to your mind as you read this passage?
- Circle the words, “walk in the way of love” in this Ephesians 4 passage. Describe what it looks like when a Christ-follower chooses to “walk in the way of love.” Name some things you would see in their life and some things that you would not see.
- In John 13:35, Jesus expressed His desire that all of His followers would be known primarily for their love. How are Christians in our country currently doing at that, and why?
- Step 1 of Moving On: Accepting Responsibility for my future
When we’ve been hurt, each of us must choose one of the following paths:
- Victim: Unforgiving people continue to think of themselves as a victim. Instead of proactively living a great life, they let things that happened to them control them. Why do unforgiving people often get stuck in a “victim” mindset?
- Vengeance: Unforgiving people have an insatiable desire to get even. But getting even is a never-ending cycle of pain. Christ-followers must let go of our desire to get even and trust that God will make things right. Why does the way of “vengeance” lead to an endless cycle of hurt and pain?
- Virtue: Those who choose to forgive seek to develop the virtues of Christ, even toward the person who hurt them. They start to see the person who hurt them as someone who was also hurt themselves. Why do hurt people tend to hurt people?
- Step 2 of Moving On: Longing for Things to be Made Right
As we let God work in our hearts, we will develop a longing to see things made right – but in God’s way and time, not ours. Why don’t Christ-followers take justice into their own hands? What makes that choice possible?
- Ideally, our desire for things to be made right will lead to restoring the relationship with the person who hurt us. When this can happen, it’s beautiful and God is honored by it. But there are times when – even though we have truly forgiven someone – we still need to keep some distance from the one who hurt us. Why is that?
- In his book Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud helps us discern which people we should stay away from, even after we have forgiven them. Cloud describes three kinds of people we will encounter in our lives:
Wise People: Those whose lives line up with truth.
Foolish People: Those who hurt us unintentionally. These are people who often seek to adjust the truth, so that they don’t have to accept responsibility and change.
Evil People: Those who cause harm to others on purpose.
If the one who hurt you fits the category of an “evil person” who is bent on purposely and repeatedly causing you harm, you may need to keep a safe distance from them. What will forgiveness look like in these cases? How is it even possible to forgive, in this scenario?