At the Thrive Conference at Bayside Church near Sacramento, CA, Mark Driscoll spoke. Mark was the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle which grew to 13 campuses and several thousand people. Since he resigned last fall, the church dissolved and gave birth to several church plans.
Mark wasn’t on the lineup. He hadn’t been advertized. He shared a heartfelt message on the importance of forgiveness.
Here’s some of what he shared:
Being a shepherd can be hard.Sometimes shepherds get struck. Jesus had a Judas who betrayed, Peter who denied him, and Thomas who doubted him. We shouldn’t be surprised when we have the same sort of challenges.
Sometimes the shepherd is struck because he punches himself in the head.
Vengeance makes for great movies, especially starring Liam Neeson, but it makes for terrible ministry.
When we are struck and wounded, we have to choose whether we will forgive, become bitter, or take revenge.
Who has hurt you? Who are you trying to avoid?
So why should we forgive?
1. Forgiving glorifies God.
When we forgive, others see a reflection of His goodness (see Eph. 4).
People who follow Christ are a forgiven and forgiving people.
2. Forgiving blesses us.
Researchers have proved that forgiving others reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and fear.
In Phil. 3:13b, Paul emphasized the importance of “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” The catch is that we cannot do both!
- Forgiving helps us start trusting people again. Isolation protects us but it also keeps us from the love we need.
- When we don’t forgive, we are making our worst day every day.
- We need to avoid taking the past into our future!
- Bitterness is a prison in the enemy’s domain.
3. Forgiving bless others.
Jesus told us to bless our enemies. That is not natural. It is supernatural!
Joseph forgave the brothers who threatened to kill him and eventually sold him into slavery. After forgiving them, he was able to bless them. At the same time, it took 30 years to come to this resolution!
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” – Genesis 50:19-20
The only way Joseph was able to see that God was able to use for good what his brothers intended for evil was because Joseph acknowledged he was not “in the place of God.”
None of us can sit on the lap of Jesus on the judgment seat.
4. Forgiveness delivers us from the enemy’s kingdom.
The darkness has never been forgiven and is never forgiving. When we don’t forgive, we’re aligning with the demonic.
See 2 Cor. 2:11, Col. 2:13-15, Heb. 12:15, and Eph. 4:26-27 for the connection between forgiveness and spiritual warfare.
Unforgiveness dams up the flow of God’s grace in our lives.
When we forgive, we have full access to the Spirit of God!