Forgiveness vs. Reconciliation- Nov. 20, 2022
Pastor Mike (00:00):
We think that we’re doing good by saying, okay, I’m just doing this blanket forgiveness. But sometimes it has such a negative impact. It has a negative impact on our relationships, cuz there’s just a lot of things that are still there and you’re like, you know what? I’m choosing to forgive, I’m forgiven. But ma’am, things are still just a broken mess.
Hannah Hunter (00:16):
Hey, beautiful people. Welcome back to Sundays with the Gathering. I’m Hannah Hunter, the director of Digital Reach here at The Gathering Place in Palm Beach Gardens. As we head into the holiday season, pastor Mike brings us a message on how we can better understand and care for ourselves and for others.
Pastor Mike (00:30):
Can you believe that? [inaudible] This is the, the Sunday before Thanksgiving. And so that means that, like after this week, I mean just the, the floodgates run, I mean all of our holiday celebrations and plans and activities, and it’s been coming on us a little bit earlier this year. But, but I feel like it is right on us. And you know, at our church we are called to extend God’s redeeming love. And part of that, extending God’s redeeming love is having healthy and good relationships with people, making those bridges, making those connections. But as we step back and we just look at our lives, we also acknowledge that we all have different levels of relationships. That there’s brokenness. We have different levels of brokenness in our relationships. There’s offenses, bitterness, sometimes there’s anger in the relationships, sometimes there’s limited communication. Some of your families might have some ex-communication.
There’s physical, emotional distance, or sometimes you gotta create boundaries for yourself just to keep yourself safe, emotionally safe, physically safe. But what happens is that usually we, we, we go through our lives and we, and we live, you know, with, with these things. You know, we, we live with this dissonance that, okay, things are not right and how they should be, but I still need to function. Right? You know, so we, we get by. But then what happens as the holidays approaches the, these, these things that have been lying beneath the surface for a long time. It’s almost like the tide just went out and now we’re seeing everything that’s been lying underneath the surface. Things that we don’t even wanna oit are there. And also sometimes because of the, the, you know, the, the pressure of the holidays. And we, and we get that, that trigger those emotional triggers that we’re talking about.
It magnifies these things. So we feel like they’re, they’re worse than what they really are. So today we’re gonna be talking about, to me, one of the most central themes of the Bible. And that is forgiveness and reconciliation. And I have to admit, the reason why we’re we’re bringing this up is because there’s a lot of misunderstandings about the nature of forgiveness. And because people have a misunderstanding of forgiveness, um, what happens is it has a negative impact. We think that we’re doing good by saying, okay, I’m just doing this like blanket forgiveness, or I have this, this conception of forgiveness. But, but sometimes it has such a negative impact in our, in the way that we take care of ourselves. It has a negative impact on our relationships. Cuz there’s just a lot of things that are still there. And you’re like, you know what?
I’m choosing to forgive, I’m forgiven, but man, things are still just a broken mess. And then also it has a negative impact on the way we understand who God is. And even though Jesus like revealed God to us fully, um, we still, we still mess it up. We still don’t see. So as we’re going through today’s text and message, we’re gonna be like debunking some myths about for forgiveness. And the first myth is that some of us think that forgiveness is unnecessary. And what I’m saying by that, like forgiveness is unnecessary, okay? Like we, we all want to be forgive forgiven of our sins. I mean, I, I rarely hear somebody that says, you know what if, even if they don’t believe that there’s God, but if there was happened to be a God, and if there were some consequences for my actions, eternal consequences, almost every person I’ve ever encountered, um, they all say, yeah, I want to be forgiven.
But, but I’m talking about those places in our lives where it’s hard to forgive when, when someone has done something wrong and who has hurt you and, and you did everything right in your power. You think that you’ve, you, you know, you, you, you, you’ve tried to model the good behavior. You tried to be the good Christian, you tried to take the high road, and yet still things happen to you. And so we ask ourselves, well, why should I forgive? I’ll forgive this, I’ll forgive that. I’ll forgive the guy that took my park and spot in Publix. You know, I’ll forgive that person that lied to me. And I’ll, you know, we have these degrees of forgiveness. But then if we’re really honest with ourselves, there are some things that people have done to our, to us that we have a hard time forgiving. If we’re really honest, we have a hard time forgiven.
And we say to ourselves, you know, why should I forgive? They’re the ones that done something wrong. You know, doesn’t it seem a little bit unjust? And, and again, in, in our world of, of what is just and right, that the victim should be the first one to, to choose to, to forgive who has to do the work of forgiving. And, and then also, um, we, we forget that the other side, there are some incredible costs that you and I pay when we choose not to forgive. I mean, mean, I mean seriously. There there are physical, there are emotional, and there are spiritual costs that you are paying heavy dividends into. When you’re choosing to hold onto that offense, hold onto that bitterness, remaining angry. I mean, you, it, it is there. In fact, just like from the, the scientific world, I mean, I mean there’s like tons of research that shows the negative effects of, of living with chronic anger, chronic resentment.
So here’s, here’s some things that just, that I’ve found in my research that that might be interesting for you. If you live with chronic anger, cr chronic, uh, resentment, which is a, uh, basically what forgiveness is, if you are offended, you’re like, I’m not angry. Well, let me tell you something. The motion underneath fence is almost always anger. If you’re living with this stuff, you’re likely to die sooner than others. It’s like scientific data supports is that you don’t live long. You actually cut your life expectancy by holding onto this stuff, you die sooner. The other thing that happens, and and again, this is just so interesting, so that that part of our system that’s meant to preserve us, you know, that fight or flight thing, well, what happens is that the, um, when you’re living with this chronic bitterness and, and offenses and all that, it elevates your, your your fight or flight, um, um, uh, symptoms.
And so what happens is you’re, you’re always activated. You’re activated way more than necessary. You’re, you’re overreacting, overcompensating. Another thing that happens is it really screws up the quality of your sleep, which we know that that has a whole bunch of negative, uh, consequences. It messes with your memory, it messes with your immune system. And then holding onto grudges, this is another research, it was like a 2003 study that that has been confirmed over and over again. But the core study showed that holding onto grudges actually gives you a higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and chronic fatigue. Dang man, I thought I could just take some lisinopril and some Crestor and get all that all under control. But no, I mean, it doesn’t work that way. There’s something underneath. And then the other thing that we have to realize, and we have to name this, is that if you’re holding this even a trace of unforgiveness and bitterness or resentment, it is negatively impacting your spirituality and relationship with God.
You are not thriving. And as much as you could try to deceive yourself and talk yourself into, no, no, I’m good. I’m a great Christian, I’m feeling good. I’m, I’m positive this positive energy, but I still don’t like that person. And they, and I’m still holding this thing and it still just, just bothers me. Um, remember what Jesus taught us? You know, he said, how can you love God and still hate your neighbor? The scriptures teaches that over and over again, as we know, the two great commandments is love God with all, all of our being, heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. So I need to ask you something before we start really digging. And I’m just trying to get you to think a little bit, allow the Holy Spirit to start moving in your heart. Is there unforgiveness in your life today? Right now?
Is there a place in your life where you are offended? You gotta come to terms with this stuff. If you want to be healed, you gotta acknowledge that something needs to move. The other thing we need to be aware of is that our family of origin, like it or not, and that generational behaviors that have been passed down from generation to generation, um, they greatly influence us on how we understand this concept of forgiveness more than we like to admit. So here’s another thing that I would like you to do. And, and some of you have done the deep work and you, and you have this level of self-awareness and you see like the, the junk in your family and you’re like, oh, I don’t, you know, want to go there, but some of us haven’t. Or some of us are aware of it, but still we don’t like to look at it.
So remember, the first question I ask you is, you know, do you have some unforgiveness in your life? Now, this next step I want you to do is a step back and kind of look at your family. This what you know of your family story, which you probably don’t know all of it. Just be honest with you, you know, cuz family, we like to cover crap stuff up a lot, you know? And, um, and so we, we like to cover and hide things up a lot and everything and pretend everything’s okay. And we even do it to our parents. We parents do it to their kids. But so just know that whatever you’re seeing, there’s a lot more below the surface, right? So ask yourself this question, you know, let’s reflect on your family. Let’s just go back three generations. How does your family handle offenses and disagreements?
Do they resolve them quickly and and in a healthy way? Or is it get blown outta proportion and they hold on to stuff? You know, do you have any black sheep in your family? Um, I mean, am I with a bunch of black sheep? I don’t know, but you know what I’m saying? Like, you know, do you, you know, do you have that, um, um, taking sides, you know, what are some of the other weird stuff that, that our families do that we know is not good and not healthy? You know, is it there? Well, the good news is that there’s hope for all of us, even if you said yes to all those things, even if you just started to pull back the curtain a little bit and say, man, there’s a bunch of stuff in my family of origin that I don’t like to look like, look at.
Well, the Bible is full of examples of, of really messed up families that God is working in their lives and God is even using them despite how messed up they are. Even though some of the families, we don’t even see like a really clean resolution to them. Um, we see that, uh, there’s a lot of generational dysfunction in the Bible. And so that’s what we’re diving into today. We’re gonna be kind of coming into the last part of their, their lives or of this, this relationship, um, in the Bible. And then they kind of break off. But we’re looking at Jacob and Esau. Now, I wanna encourage you to, to dig, because if, unless you want me to start preaching like two hour sermons, you have to do your homework, okay? <laugh>, you gotta start reading your Bible and getting familiar with this stuff or, or like what I’m saying, you’re only gonna get like, like surface level.
But, but just to tell you like, I mean many, many scholars believe that Jacob and Esau are, are like twin brothers. So this is like generation three after Abraham, remember Abraham was, was given this promise that he was gonna be the father of many nations and through his seed, all the world’s gonna be blessed, you know, then we have a son, Isaac, and then we have these two brothers, Jacob and Esau. Now lemme tell you how like screwed up their family is okay? Like if you just go back from like, look at their grandpa and their, their father and grandpa and all that, like, they’re already like really screwed up. So they already have like this whole generational dysfunction. I mean, there’s a lion, there’s cheating, there’s swindling god or swindling people. I mean, there’s, it is just a mess. And yet this is who God calls, right?
But in inside this relationship between these two brothers, you have this like radical sibling, uh, rivalry going on, okay? So they’re always, you know, and again, it’s like the older and younger thing. It’s, it’s, it’s near east society. So like what we understand about like birth roles just multiply at times 50. Okay? So the older brother, you know, or the older child in near east cultures, I mean, they have this lot of responsibility put onto them and all that. And the younger is just, man, it just stinks to be the younger one in near East Society. But that’s, you have that going on, on top of this. You got some screwed up parents in the story. And I know that that might sound sacrilegious to call the patriarchs, uh, screwed up parents, but they were, because the parents actually played favorites. So the dad really liked Esau a whole lot, you know, he is like, Hey, he’s a man’s man.
He was this hunter and all this stuff, you know, doing all that. Kinda like, and then, and then you have, and then you have the mom who picked, who also picks a favorite, says, I like the younger. So we have all this birth order issues, we have family secrets, we have lies, we have all this hurt, we have cheating. And what the big things that, that breaks up this family relationship is this. First of all, Esau loses his birthright. He loses his birthright to, to his brother. And then the last thing, it’s like toward the end when their, when their father’s about ready to die and everything. And this is a really big deal that sometimes we minimize this in western society, but the concept of blessing, especially blessing our children. And so at the end of one person’s life, they’re supposed to bless their child and there’s a blessing reserve for the older child and as a blessing reserve for all the younger.
And that blessing pretty much dictates the future of the life. Now you might say, man, I don’t believe in that kind of stuff. Does that really happen? But think about the words that have been spoken over to you all your life words that of that, that, that people who matter to you, what they spoke over you in your life, those that have spoke, things that, that have really brought life and life giving, I guarantee you can probably connect to those words. And there’s, and there’s behaviors in your life and choices in your life that you made. You could probably connect to the negative words that people have spoken. So blessings mean a lot. And in this story it means a lot. But basically Esau loses both and his brother Jacob, um, you know, gets both of these blessings. But Jacob then has consequences for his action.
I mean, there’s a lot of totally screwed up stuff. But now fast forward to where we are in the scripture today. We’re in Genesis chapter 33, and I’m just gonna pull out a couple parts. But here’s where we are. Both brothers have have grown pretty strong, okay? So they have children, they, they have extended family, they have wealth. They, they, they actually have like armies. They have, they have people coming to there. And now, like they’re, they’re living in this small, like, you know, lamb. Israel’s not that big, okay? And, and they, and they’re just like two competing brothers that have a lot of influence and plus all this baggage and, and history back there. So Jacob knows that his brother is looking to meet with him, right? He’s looking to meet with him with his 400 men. And this is before I read the text, I just want you to hear this.
He’s getting ready to meet with them. And so here’s how Jacob prepares to meet with his brother that they’ve been estranged for years. Okay? So just ama maybe you have one of those relations. Yeah, there’s a relative that you just had a falling out with. Maybe it’s a friend you had a falling out with and now you’ve been separated for years, but because of whatever was going on in the world today, you have a meeting planned for them. So here’s how Jacob plans for that meeting. And this is like Genesis 32. But basically he does three things. And maybe this is, I, I remember one holiday, this is how I prepared for it. First of all, Jacob, he prays and he, and he wrestles with God. He has this encounter with God, he prays. The other thing Jacob does is he prepares for war <laugh>, he prepares for war.
I mean, he gets his and he’s ready to kick some stuff, man. And then he brings gifts and then like, kinda like our holidays sometime, you know, like you, it’s like, oh man, I haven’t seen these cousins in a real long time. And man, the last time we had of that family gathering was all screwed up. So what do we do? We pray, prepare for war, and we bring gifts. You know, just, you know, you know, you gotta be prepared for all scenarios. Genesis chapter 33, verse one. So Jacob looked up and there was Esaw coming with his 400 men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two female serves. Whole nother story why Jacob has a bunch of kids with a bunch of different women, but that’s what’s going on. Okay? Um, so he put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and, and Joseph in the rear.
And he himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother. But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him. He threw his arms around his neck and kissed him and they wept. I just wanna stop here for, for just this, a real pause because a lot of times when, when preachers talk about people in the Bible, especially like a character like Jacob who later becomes Israel, I mean, this is where all Israel and all the Israelites come from, from, from, I mean, his, his line, we kind of like, like skip over all the junk. We, we, we tend, we we kind of become those Christians that say that they, the ends justify the means. And, and I just want you to know that God does care about the process and what we do along the journey. And so in today’s message, what I want you to get ahold of is this, is that with both brothers, there’s some really screwed up stuff and there’s a lot of stuff that’s not even named in the Bible that that’s really messed up in there.
And we’re not gonna just pretend that, that all the good lessons of the story come from Jacob. Okay? We can also see there’s some good stuff with, with Esau here okay? As well. And we’re just gonna kind of name what is there. What I’m seeing is this, and I think we have to kind of apply this in our lives with the people that are around us, is that God actually blessed both of them. It, it is very clear that God blessed both of them. And here’s another thing is that when you’ve been overly blessed and there’s other people in your lives that have been blessed and in your lives, you can’t live in the promises of God or into God’s future, God has for you, when you’re holding on to a lot of roots of unforgiveness, you can’t do it. It must be resolved. So in, in Jewish tradition from this story, they pull out this, this, this concept called shalom byk, which means household peace.
Now, okay, this is a kingdom struggle we’re re reading about in the Bible here. But what that concept says is that we have to live and exist and, and there are gonna be times where we’re gonna have to work with people and be with people that you just don’t like that there is differences. And so shalom bait says, what do I have to do to maintain peace? So it’s kind of like, you know, the family dinner where we go to grandma’s house, right? And, and then, then we have some sibling problems and all that stuff. You know, you don’t bring that junk to the dinner table. I mean, it makes dinner interesting, but you don’t do that, okay? You decided in advance what you’re gonna do to make peace. And what we see here right away is that, that esol, we don’t know what God was doing as in work, but ESOL decided to go in advance even though he was the one in a lot of ways looks like that.
I mean, he really got the short end of the stick on a lot of things. But he ran to try to reco to reconcile or or to forgive first. I mean, he, he tried to forgive first. And the reason why I think it’s important that we understand why it’s important to forgive first is because when you choose to forgive, it’s not, not you, it’s not that person you’re forgiving who needs your forgiveness, it’s you who needs the forgiveness. So Louis Smeeds, and this guy is like the author of the whole modern, um, psychology and biblical, uh, psychology actually of modern forgiveness says this. He says, to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you. I’ll say that again. To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to discover that the prisoner was you. So when we hold onto this, this unforgiveness and we think that we’re, we’re, we’re, we’re giving it to them, you know, I’m gonna, I’m not gonna talk to you.
You know, you know how it is, like, you know, maybe you’re in the same city and you see that person, you’re just like, Hmm, who are you? I never saw you before. Oh, I don’t know. Oh, you’re talking to me. Oh yeah, yeah. After all that, you know, like you think you’re sticking it to them and you’ve been holding onto this thing for maybe 15, 20 years. And you know what? The person who is really suffering is you. If you want to be set free in your heart, you have to choose to forgive. So Jacob, we say God’s doing something in him too. Cause he is brought all these gifts. Remember Jacob prepared for war and he also prepared to open gifts. I mean, that’s what he was, he was prepared for. And so we jumped down to verse eight. Remember, you gotta read your Bible yourself. I’m just giving you the highlights here, okay? Verse eight, Al asked, what’s the meaning of all these flocks and herds I met to find? And then Jacob replies to find favor in your eyes, my Lord. He said, but ESL said, I already have plenty, my brother, keep what you have for yourself.
What’s going on here? Somewhere along the line, I believe that Jacob had some kind of realization that he really did his brother wrong. And, and it looks like Jacob is trying to bring some of this gifts or whatever to appease his brother to say, Hey, yeah, this blessing really should be part of yours. I I I stole it from you. But, but it also leads into another myth that we gotta talk about. Myth number two is that forgiveness is approval. A lot of times we think, and we do this and why we have a hard time forgiving is cuz when someone does something wrong to us, we think that by saying that, saying, I forgive you, that we approve or condone their, their bad actions. You know, it’s kind kinda like, you know, like in preschool, like, you know, you want kids to reconcile quickly, you know, so you know, so you have, you have little Billy and you ha and you have Joe, and then they, they do something together and the teacher right away says, okay, now Billy, tell, tell Joe you’re sorry.
And then, and Joe’s like, I’m sorry, then tell him you forgive him. And, and, and, and, and basically, okay, we want them to forgive, but it also sends this mixed message that we’re saying that what they did was okay. And that might be a barrier for you and forgiveness because you’re like, I’m not gonna forgive them. What they did to me was wrong. And you’re absolutely right. It was wrong. It hurt you, it caused harm. But forgiveness is not about that. You see actually, you know, the biblical understand forgiveness is to release or set free. In other words, what are your releases set free? You’re releasing that person from the consequences that, or, or the, the righteousness that you have to, to enact judgment on them to pay them back. You’re saying, you know what, I’m not gonna be paying you back anymore, even though I have a right to poke out your eye.
If I live by I for an eye, we’d all be without teeth and we’d all be too without eyes and we’d all be toothless. Cause we’d all be poking each other’s eyes out. Cause we’re all guilty. Forgiveness says, you know what, I’m gonna step back and I’m gonna release you even though I have the right for retribution. I’m gonna release you from that. But I’m still not gonna say what you did was right. Do you see the difference Jacob says was, continue, no, please, if I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me for to see your faces like seeing the face of God. And now that you have received me favorably, please accept the present that was brought to you. For God has been gracious to me and I have all I need. And because Jacob insisted, um, Esau accepted.
So in some ways what Jacob is doing is acknowledging that he did some wrong. Now, this is not conditional for Esau’s forgiveness, this is just, this is just extra gravy. I mean, this is, this is nice. And um, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that don’t just gloss over things like we Christians, we do that we, we suppress a lot of our emotions and our feelings because we’re trying to be like Jesus. But we forget these other moments that Jesus had where he was in the garden, where he is in pain when he did suffer. And so it’s okay to acknowledge that what that person did really hurt you. It’s okay to to say that, that it was wrong. And I believe that through Jacob’s acts, he’s, he’s doing this so that he can set, be, be made free. But here’s the other thing that we have to, that this ties and links into this myth number three that we have that with, with forgiveness is that we think that forgiveness is forgetting.
Have you ever heard that? You know, forgiven? Forget. You know, what I think is important is that, that Jacob didn’t allow ESOL to forget. See, sometimes like we are in that ESOL mode, you know, like we, we wanna be good Christians. And so we, we say, I gotta forgive you. I gotta forgive you, I gotta let you forgive. And, and we, and we pretend that what really happened to us didn’t bother us. But Jacob was by, by bringing this gift, was forcing ESOL to acknowledge that hey, there was some real pain there. You know, every time he used that word, blessing or gracious and all that, it ties back linguistically to the same blessings that, that Jacob stole from ESOL earlier in Genesis. So again, sometimes we’re not willing in order to be healed and allow God to transform us, we’re not do, we’re not willing to do the deep work and, and acknowledging what the exact offense was.
And that’s, that’s a issue that we have with, with forgiving, you know, is that sometimes we don’t do the, the deep work and acknowledge what are we actually forgiving for? We like to do this like blanket forgiveness. But what happens when you do blanket forgiveness? It numbs you from the real pain or you start doing other things and, and start in participating in other behaviors, whether it’s alcohol or some other addictive behavior to try to numb your pain. And so what we need to do better is to step back and say, okay, God, I choose to forgive, but this still hurts. So one of the best ways to do a clean forgiveness, and I think this is really important, is that you have to ask yourself instead of saying, Hey, I forgive you, ask that. Ask yourself, what did that person do specifically to bother and hurt me?
What did their actions or words mean to me? We, we do that. I mean, man, um, sometimes we, we, we spout out things and we say something and we, and we unintentionally hurt people around us and they say, oh, I forgive you. But if you’ve been the rec receiver of that, sometimes you’ve been doing this blanket forgiveness for so long, instead of like coming to terms of like, what you said to me cut me deeply, it really hurt me. And, and before you can even talk to that, to the person, you have to choose to forgive them, but acknowledge what you are forgiven. You have to make a a conscious decision also, you know, are there other ways, um, to think about what had happened? You know, kind of step back and say, okay, am I, am I seeing everything completely or, or what’s happening behind the scenes?
See, I think a lot of times with us Christians, like, I mean, God forgive us pastors because sometimes we’ve trained you not to think and we’ve done you so much harm by telling you to be like out of touch with reality, out of touch with your emotions, out of touch with your feelings. And we give you like some scripture answers or prescriptions for things without giving you any background or context. And what I want you to do is to be able to think and, and, and part of that is to have a clean forgiveness. You gotta know specifically what you are forgiving. Now, this is where we’re gonna, we’re gonna see something I think is interesting, verse 12 then. So it looks like everybody’s good, right? You know, Jacob didn’t have to go to war with his brother. They hug Jacob informally, you know, says, Hey, you know, sorry for ripping you off.
Um, you know, he, he, he does that kind of thing. And then Esau says, let us be on our way. I’ll accompany you. Let’s, let’s go together. So here’s what we assume a lot of times when, when we talk about forgiveness, when in our mind, and this is, this is like kind of like a, a, a trick that messes with our, our souls a lot, okay? Someone is wrong to you and you have chosen to forgive them. Now, whether you remember, forgiveness is not require two people. Forgiveness only requires one person, the person who chooses to forgive, right? So we choose to forgive them. And we think that God’s magical power is gonna restore things in such a way that we can go right back to where we were in the beginning. <laugh>, you know, we think we could just like jump back and say, okay, it was just like we never had that offense before.
We could just resume what happened. We can forget about the past and, and everything will be okay. And I want you to know, and this is okay, but that’s not always the case because here’s the fourth myth that I think is so critical that we get, we gotta get ahold of. And that is forgiveness is reconciliation. That is a myth. They are two separate things. Remember, forgiveness is setting the person free from the judgment, uh, or, or what they deserve. That they’re, you’re letting them free from the punishment. Reconciliation is restoration of a relationship. And I think this is where we really get mixed up as Christians. And here we have this, this awesome example in the scripture to help us with this. Uh, ver verse 16. So that day, Esau started on his way back to stair. And Jacob, however, went to SKO where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his life livestock.
That is why the place is called Chakov. And then, and then eventually this Jacob goes a little bit over and, and, and does more settlement. And I wanna show you, I think we have a map available. There we go. Just to give you an idea of what, what is happening here. So these brothers are meeting right here in the middle. They, they have their peace, you know, they, they, you know, forgiveness has been announced. And then, and then he’s like, Hey, let’s go. So Esau’s like, Hey, let’s go back down to here. This is where Esau goes all the way down here. And Jacob says, sure, I’ll be right with you. And what is what and where does he go? He goes all the way, the other way. He goes to Suka and then he keeps on going all the way over to shek. So what we see there is like, he makes a radical a attorneys, he’s like, I’m not going with you. I’m not gonna live with you. We’re not, we’re not going back to the, the, the, the family, the family land or any of that kind of stuff. He’s like, no, I have an entirely new path. In fact, I mean there’s a huge physical different, uh, distance between where the two brothers go. And in fact, that’s how you have these two kingdoms, the Edomites. And, and then the Israelites are established because they chose to go their separate ways even though they forgave each other. Now, that’s hard for us Christians to accept.
And the reason why I think is because we, we mixed up this understanding of, of forgiveness and reconciliation. You know, I don’t know why Jacob did what he did, but, but we do know that he had a call and his call was related to the land of Israel, everything west of the Jordan here, and Esau was here. And if, and if Jacob gave in and said, okay, I’m just gonna go with how my family is and just kind of continue the family behaviors, the whole world would be different today we’d miss out on, on the blessings. We, I mean, just the fulfillment of all God’s prophecies will be missed because of that. What I think we have to also understand is like, you know what? We don’t know about their deep work. Maybe Jacob still didn’t feel safe to be with Isa. I mean, and his brother was, I mean, his, his brother was a man of war.
His brother was tough. Jacob was sly cunning had people, had his warriors too, but maybe he didn’t feel safe to go with them. You know what, maybe Esau didn’t do the emotional work that he needed to do to be safe with his brother. We don’t know what’s going on in the relations, but we do know that even though they chose to forgive, they chose to go their separate ways. And that is okay. Some of you might now might have some relationships that you want reconciliation and you wish they were, and, and, and you ask God like, why don’t, why aren’t we not reconciled? I forgave, I forgave, I forgave. And we have to understand that those are two different things.
And sometimes by mixing the, that concept of reconciliation forgiveness together, sometimes we’re afraid to forgive because sometimes we think that we have to be in relation. If I have to forgive that person, I have to like live with them and be with them again. You know, especially if you’re thinking about in abusive relationships, you know, we think that, okay, you know, now I have to be back with that person as abusing and, and, and treating me bad. And, and that’s not the case because sometimes the people that you forgive, they’re unsafe people, do you hear me? They’re unsafe people. And you know what? Trust was broken. And just because you forgave them doesn’t make them a trustworthy person. You know what? Because by doing that, by just giving ’em a blanket, forgiveness and giving blanket and reconciliation, um, you could put yourself into another abusive situation. You could be harmed, you can be hurt again by the offender. Because just because you forgive somebody doesn’t mean you automatically trust them. Trust has to be earned back. And so here’s the formula that the Bible teaches us about. Where does reconciliation come into? Now this is, now this is what we learned from Jesus.
Reconciliation involves two parts. First part is forgiveness. Jesus died on the cross and paid the penalty for our sins so we wouldn’t have to have the penalty. Boom. And, and, and even some like universals will say, well, that’s extended for everybody. Jesus died of the cross, paid the penalty for everyone. Boom. However, that does not do anything about restoring the relationship. How the relationship gets restored is through repentance. It’s actually changing our behavior. It’s actually acknowledging it’s not just Jesus forgiving us, but now it’s like, Jesus, I am sorry I broke the relationship. Jesus helped me be a new person. I’m changing my behavior and because I’m changing my behavior and changing my ways to align with your ways, there’s reconciliation. Do you see that from the biblical standpoint? It’s the same way with all of our relationships. Forgiveness is one thing, but reconciliation and has to have repentance.
There has to be an acknowledgement and there has to be a change of behavior. And I wonder sometimes that maybe that’s the problem that we see in this biblical story here, because we see that both Jacob and esol, they don’t change their behaviors. Jacob is still Jacob, I mean, got keep on reading, read, read 34 and on. I mean, Jacob is still Jacob, you know, he, he’s named esol, sometimes named, uh, Israel. Sometimes he’s aimed Jacob, but he still does his cutting stuff. And maybe that’s why they had to go their separate ways, but still be able to forgive.
And then there’s some other stuff that’s hard that we have to name. Sometimes. Maybe you were the guilty person, maybe you were the person that did all the wrong and, and you have done the inner work. You know, you’ve, you’ve, you’ve, you’ve done, you’ve, you’ve done all that soul work. You’ve confessed to your sins, you try to reconcile that person. But no matter how much you say, I’m sorry, no matter how much you try to prove you changed, you’re never enough and they don’t want to have a relationship with you. And that happens sometimes, but you have to understand it. You know, just because you did your work doesn’t mean that you can do that work for them. And if a person is not willing to do that soul work to allow God to heal and transform their lives, you’re not gonna have reconciliation. I’m saying this to you, not to get you down and upset, but I want you to understand, and this is kind of the, the myth five that we need to, to overcome here, is that we think that forgiveness is instant.
And in my experience as a human being, and then also as a pastor, I think forgiveness takes time. Sometimes it’s a process. There’s some things that we can forgive really easy, but there are some things that have happened to you that are really hard and they stink and they weren’t right. They were unjust. They cause deep harm to you. And you know what, it takes time for you to forgive because it’s sometimes it takes time for you just to step back and realize what happened to you. How are you hurt? How are you offended? You know, like what, how, what’s the depth of that wound? Then it takes time for you to be able to name it and then come to the conscious decision to say, I forgive that person. Because here’s the danger of why I think this is so important that you still must forgive if you don’t deal with this forgiveness.
If you don’t, if you don’t allow forgiveness to set you free, here’s what happens. You pass on that hurt to others unintentionally. Every single time parents pass it on to their children, grandparent. I mean, like, it, it, it is just becomes this ripple effect and you have to deal with it. I know it’s scary and I know you have some deep hurts, and the holidays kind of reminds us of those relationships where there needs to be forgiveness. And the holidays also remind us of those relationships that, that we long for reconciliation, but it may or may not be there. But our hope is not in ourselves. It’s in Jesus. And the only reason why we are able to, to live into freedom is because Jesus came to set me and you free. He is the one, he is the way, the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father, except through him. And he realized that the relationship between God and us was so broken that, that the only way to remedy it was to come down, to live that sinless life and to give his life and pay the consequences of all of our disobedience so that we could be forgiven and we have an opportunity to respond to God’s grace and to repent. Why am I bringing this up? Because to me, this is the most critical thing because you know what? You can read a lot of self-help books. You can, you can learn about forgiveness and reconciliation. But ma’am, this is soul work. And you know what? Soul work requires help. It requires a lot of help. And there are, there are great teachers, there are great counselors that can help you. But, but the greatest help that you can experience is that help from God.
The Bible teaches us that we are able to forgive because we have been forgiven. And that kind of level, when you have that understanding, that when you know that Jesus died on the cross for you and you accept his forgiveness, and then you take the next step to repent and, and change, ask God to help you change your ways and acknowledge that not only do you need to be forgive him, but you’re sorry, you want to live life new. The, the, the field is leveled. And, and then, and once you realize that man, you’re a, you’re a person that needs forgiveness and grace just as much as that person that hurts you. And when you understand that that was freely given to you, it’s a lot easier and you’re a lot more empowered to forgive others and work toward reconciliation. So I want you to just to do just a, have some soul work right now. Let, let us be in a place of prayer and just say, Lord, going back to that first question, is there unforgiveness in my life? Am I holding an offense? Step back from that. You know, I mean, let that pain sit with it, let it be real with you.
But then also look at your life and your family and say, man, is there some kind of repeated behaviors going on? Am I trapped in a system? If you’re still holding onto an offense and you identify as a follower of Christ, my question is why? Because you know that Jesus knows everything about you and still loves you and chooses to forgive you. So maybe that’s the first step right now is just to, to step back and remember your need for grace and say, God, I need forgiveness. I am in my actions and my words and my thought and deeds. I have hurt you. I’ve called injur, caused injury to other human beings. And there’s no fixing it. Only you can fix it. So Jesus, I’ve sinned, I’ve done wronged, I’ve, I’ve broken your commitments and I need you to forgive me. Pray that prayer, say Jesus, forgive me Jesus. I need my relationship stored, restored. I’m sorry for what I did. Jesus teach me how to never do that again. Jesus, you see my family, you see my background? You know what I’ve been taught. Jesus, show me a new way. Father God, I thank you for every person that is praying that right now. And we trust and believe that the Holy Spirit is gonna do the, the big work. Thank you that we are reconciled with you because of just having the faith and believe that when we do these things,
That you make it happen, that you forgive us and you reconcile us. And now, Lord, we bring back to that pain
And we name specifically why we’re holding that offense. And Lord, today we relinquish our authority to say that we are the judge, the jury, the convictor, and we say, Jesus, I forgive them and I put them in your hands. And Lord, I give you permission to do the work in my life. And I ask you to do the work in their lives so that there could be reconciliation. And Lord, if there isn’t reconciliation in this life, I still praise and bless you because you are a good God. In Jesus name, on amen. This is the key to the life that Jesus promises. This is the key to experience abundant life. Repeat this, reflect on it, keep working on it. And I’m telling you, God will change everything. This is the miracle that Jesus does. Amen.
Hannah Hunter (45:46):
Hey beautiful people. This is Hannah Hunter. I’m the director of Digital Reach here at The Gathering Place in Palm Beach Gardens. Thank you for joining us this week. We love getting to share our journey in Christ and community with you. And if you’re in the Palm Beach area, we’d love to get to connect with you in person at our Sunday worship service at 1115. For more information about our community and faith, check out our website at the gathering place fl.org. Thanks for listening.