Have you been scared?
When I was a kid, I had monsters hiding under my bed, but I could deal with those. I just put a few books on the floor and as long as I stepped on them, the monster wouldn’t know when I stepped on the floor in the middle of the night.
The real scary monster was the one that materialized each evening as soon as the lights went out. His favorite place was in the closet.
As long as the closet was closed, he stayed trapped inside. But just leave the door cracked open and trouble was brewing that night.
One night, I forgot to close the door. I would lie there looking at that partially open closet door. The longer I looked, the wider the door would open.
I was terrified! Soon the door would be open enough for that monster to come and get me.
I jumped out of bed and sprang toward the closet door, slamming it shut. I heard the monster inside grunt, so I must have caught his finger in the door.
Unfortunately, I slipped on the books and fell directly on the floor. I was lucky I had really fast reflexes, so I made it onto the bed before the monster under the bed grabbed me. The next morning I noticed a bight was taken out of the bottom of the leg of my pajamas.
Later on in life, I have been scared even worse than that heart-thumping night. I lost a job and was left homeless on the street for nine months.
Would anybody want to share a time where they were really scared?
SLIDE Would you like to see something really scary?
I ask you: Would you like to see something really scary?
SLIDE [play Twilight Zone clip]
Imagine being with a friend you knew since kindergarten and having them turn into a monster and start to devour you with his razor-sharp bone-crunching teeth!
SLIDE – blank
Now, I have a question for you:
Would you like to see something even scarier?
Something more frightening than your worst nightmares or monsters in you closet?
Turn to Luke 11 verse 4a.
SLIDE Luke 11:4 (NIV)
4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
Just to clarify this, let’s look at the various translations:
SLIDE Luke 11:4 (KJV)
4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.
SLIDE Luke 11:4 (NASB)
4 ‘And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
SLIDE Luke 11:2 (Phillips NT)
and forgive us our sins, for we forgive anyone who owes anything to us.
SLIDE Luke 11:4 (Darby)
4 and remit us our sins, for we also remit to every one indebted to us;
SLIDE Luke 11:4 (MontgomeryNT)
4 “Forgive us our sins; for we also forgive everyone who has offended us;
Do you see why I consider this the most frightening verse in the Bible?
The scary part is this: In every translation, we are asking God to forgive us in the same manner as we forgive others!
As we sin against God and expect forgiveness, we should forgive everyone who has sinned against us.
When we owe God and expect forgiveness, we need to forgive those who owe us.
If we expect to be forgiven when we have wronged God, everyone who has wronged us should likewise be forgiven.
SLIDE – blank
Sometimes, it is really hard to forgive someone. How about someone who beat you up at school or teased you relentlessly? Are there people in your life or who were in your life that you have not forgiven?
When I was in the pee-wee football league, a person splashed a large cup of yellow liquid on my football pants at practice and everyone chanted something about what I appeared to have done. I literally hated everyone on the team for this.
SLIDE – people
I had forgotten about that incident for a long time. I realized years later that I had never forgiven that person who did it. Today I cannot even remember who did it. That didn’t stop me from forgiving him much later in life.
I have more recently forgiven all the other team members who were chanting and teasing me.
Sometimes you may only remember that you hate or are mad at someone.
A couple that I knew were happily married for more than five years. One night the man let me know they were divorcing. It turns out that they had not had a civil word between them for three years. Only the minimal communication between them was ever uttered. Like “You drank the last of the milk?” or “Yes, dear.”
I was bewildered, because when they were in public they seemed happy.
A week or so later, I had to ask the question: “What happened to drive you two apart?”
All I saw was that “deer in the headlights” look. A puzzling bank look on his face.
I didn’t mean to pry. Several minutes went by and I apologized for asking that question.
SLIDE – deeds
He said “To tell you the truth, I have no idea what started this.”
A couple of weeks later, the soon-to-be ex-wife approached me. She told me that she and her husband had talked and she couldn’t remember what had happened either. They had laughed and jokingly forgave each other for whatever they couldn’t remember.
Well, it was more than a joke, because when they moved to another state a few years later, they were still married.
I have a question for all of us: Do we believe we forgive people easily? I think everyone who believes they forgive easily should take a deep look at themselves. Inside myself, I have found many things that have needed a healthy dose of forgiveness.
Anger and Hate
We need to look at how we can be dragged into the state of forgiveness. You see, Satan has a couple of tricks up his sleeve.
SLIDE – Satan’s Tools: Hatred
Hatred is one of the tools that Satan loves. I think that the devil is lazy and loves to see us dig our own grave for our soul. Hatred does this quite well.
SLIDE – Anger
Anger is another tool and is much more dangerous than hate.
Hatred is right-in-your-face and very powerful. You definitely know when you hate someone. It takes a long time for hatred to fade to where it is barely noticeable.
On the other hand, anger can be really subtle. How about that person who cut me off on the way to church? You know, the one who stuck their hand out of the window when I honked at them. And they had a “Honk If You Love Jesus” bumper sticker on their car.
My visceral reaction could have been very unchristian like. Instead, I bit my tongue and kept my hand inside the car. Yes, I was angry at the time, but I could have gotten over my anger by the time I had my coffee and donut before this service.
However, I took my own advice and forgave him after a long sigh.
SLIDE – blank
Hatred can eventually turn into anger and fade away into your unconscious. There it can lie in wait for judgment day as a gotcha if you have not forgiven.
Let’s take a look at an example. I will need two volunteers – like our elders, Keith and Ken.
SLIDE – chains that bind
Let’s say Keith came into the office this morning and bumped into Ken coming out of the office. Ken just nodded hello to Keith as his mouth was full and he was chewing something.
Keith said HI and went to get a bag of pretzels hidden away in the office. This morning, he discovered a bag with just one pretzel in it. He remembers Ken chewing something when they passed each other in the hall.
Keith gets angry at Ken and accuses him of eating the pretzels.
Let me introduce you to Hate and Anger (show 12-pound kettle ball with chains attached).
As you can see Hate and Anger have chains that bind.
Since Keith is already angry, he is bound to the Hate and Anger ball. (Handcuff Keith to a chain.)
Now Ken reacts and gets mad at Keith for accusing him unjustly as Ken dislikes pretzels. (Handcuff Ken to a chain.)
The demonstration is over. You may be seated.
Oh, you can’t be seated where you once were as the Chains of Hate and Anger bind you together!
Now, Keith thinks and then prays, realizing he has made a mistake and apologizes to Ken. He also forgives Ken for his anger, so out comes the tool of forgiveness [take the diagonal cutters and cut the chains from Keith] which breaks the chains that bind Keith. Now Keith can resume his life without worrying.
If Ken resumes his life, he will be carrying the weight of Hate and Anger around. Eventually, most of it may rust away, Ken’s muscles will get huge and he may not notice the Hate and Anger anymore.
Well Ken, being a prayerful person, forgives Keith and now he can also continue unimpeded. [Cut Ken loose.]
SLIDE – chains, hate, anger
How was that for a demonstration of how hate and anger can bind and imprison you?
Can you see how Forgiveness is the key to severing the chains of hate and anger?
SLIDE – blank
Forgiveness will save us from the most frightening verse in the Bible.
Forgiveness will save us from the flames of Hell.
God will forgive us as we forgive others.
I am going to pass out a tool which, if properly used, will free us from the binding chains of hate and anger.
As I pass them out, look at the side that says:
SLIDE – [ name(s) go here ]
Don’t do anything with except look.
[pass out the cards]
Now, while looking at the top that says [ names(s) go here ] and I want everyone to think of the name or names of those toward whom you have anger or hate.
Now while you are thinking of those names, I want everyone to write the following on the line:
SLIDE – I Forgive You
“I Forgive You.”
Now, on the count of three, say out loud “I Forgive You.”
ONE, TWO, THREE: “I Forgive You.”
Now turn the card over and read with me:
Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
SLIDE – Forgiveness – Let us pray…