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Forgiveness Is Freedom

with Bryan Loritts | June 20, 2016

How do we practice forgiveness in a world of great evils? Pastor Bryan Loritts explores Jesus' words about forgiveness in Matthew 18 and tells why the parable of the man who owed 10,000 talents is so significant for believers today.

How do we practice forgiveness in a world of great evils? Pastor Bryan Loritts explores Jesus' words about forgiveness in Matthew 18 and tells why the parable of the man who owed 10,000 talents is so significant for believers today.

Forgiveness Is Freedom

With Bryan Loritts
|
June 20, 2016
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: How can an individual know whether he or she has truly been saved? Pastor Bryan Loritts says one indicator is the increasing presence of grace and forgiveness in how you deal with other people.

Bryan: One of the primary indicator lights that you know that you’re sho’nough saved—it’s how you handle folk who get on your last nerve. Jesus said it this way: “What credit is it to you if you love the loveable? Even the Gentiles do that.”

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, June 20th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Would you say grace and forgiveness are characteristic of your marriage relationship?

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We’re going to explore that theme with Bryan Loritts today. Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You know, you stop and think about what is required to make a marriage work well. I think it was—was it Ruth Graham, Billy Graham’s wife, who said, “A great marriage is the union of two great forgivers”? Forgiveness is—it’s at the heart / it’s essential for a marriage.

Dennis: It is the basis of a great marriage, Bob. In fact, you know, at the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway, we take an entire hour on Saturday afternoon to talk to couples about the whole subject of resolving conflict. There can be no resolution of two human beings having a disagreement or a conflict with each other—

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—whatever you want to call it—a fight / a quarrel— without somehow coming to the point of expressing the need for forgiveness and then forgiving the other person.

Bob: We’re going to hear a powerful message today on the subject of forgiveness. This is a message that we got a chance to hear as we were onboard the Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise, back in February. Bryan Loritts was one of the speakers onboard the cruise. This message resonated with so many of the couples who were with us that week.

Dennis: Yes, Bryan is a great personal friend. We’ve been in a mentoring relationship together for over a dozen years, Bob. Currently, he is the pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in the Bay area. He and his wife Korie have three sons. They’re just a great couple / a great family— not perfect—but he knows, firsthand, the importance of the subject of forgiveness.

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In fact, just gave a classic message on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, Bob, that is really a sampling of the kind of teaching people can come to expect if they spend a week with us during Valentine’s week.

Bob: Let me just mention that we are in the countdown to sell out for next year’s cruise—Valentine’s week, 2017. We will have Paul David Tripp, Kevin DeYoung, and H.B. Charles, along with a lineup of musical guests. Michael Jr.’s going to be there, doing comedy.

We’ve got a lot going on, but we’re close to wrapping it up this year as we’ve got folks who have called in and made their reservations to be on the cruise. If you’re interested in a special Valentine’s celebration in 2017— maybe it’s a special anniversary or something going on—now is the time to call 1-800-FL-TODAY to get information about the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.

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In this countdown to sell out, our team has got some special offers available. So call and get more information at 1-800-”F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

Dennis: Yes; in fact, Bob, I know of one family where the adult children are inviting the mom and dad to join them on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. In this case, their parents have been married for 70 years—7-0. They’ve been to other Love Like You Mean It marriage cruises and they felt like it was time to come back for a refresher. [Laughter] Can you imagine?—70 years of marriage.

Bob: Again, more information at 1-800-FL-TODAY.

Let’s dive in and hear Bryan Loritts sharing on the subject of forgiveness from this year’s Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.

[Recorded Message]

Bryan: If you have your devices, I want to encourage you to take them out right now and click on your Bible apps—not your Angry Bird apps—and meet me in Matthew, Chapter 18 / Matthew, Chapter 18.

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Admittedly, tonight’s message is a little bit heavy—it centers round this whole issue of forgiveness. Pick me up in verse 21 of Matthew, Chapter 18. I want to read this story to us and lift up some principles.

In verse 21, it says:

Then Peter came up and said to him,—(speaking of Jesus)—“Lord, how often will my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times but seventy times seven.”

I went to Bible college so I wouldn’t have to do math, but I believe that’s 490 times. Now the story—verse 23—Jesus says:

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him”—(underline this phrase)—“ten thousand talents.

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“Since he couldn’t pay, his master ordered him to be sold with his wife and children and all that he had in payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’

If you’re looking for a definition of forgiveness, here it is—verse 27:

 “And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

“But now, when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him”—(make a note of this phrase)—“100 denarii. And seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed; and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.

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“Then his master summoned him and he said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ [Laughter]— (your translation doesn’t say that?)— [Laughter] ‘You wicked servant. I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me, and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers until he should pay all his debt.”

Now, verse 35 is really scary—as my youngest would say, “Freaks me out.”

“So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother”—(or I could insert in here: your spouse) — “from your heart.”

“Lord, how often will my brother sin against me?”

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“How often will my wife sin against me?” “How often will my husband sin against me and I forgive him?” or “…I forgive her? As many as seven times?” Jesus says, “No I don’t say to you seven times; but seventy times seven.”

His name was Charles Roberts IV, who’s 32 years old; and he was disappointed with God. You know the definition of disappointment; don’t you? It’s the gap that happens between our expectations and our real-time experiences. It’s when what we were expecting over here is worlds apart from what we’re experiencing over here—we call that gap / we call that chasm disappointment.

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Here’s Charles Roberts IV—he’s disappointed in God. For whatever reason, life just wasn’t going the way he had worked it out in his own mind. He decided that he was going to take his frustrations out on God by unloading on the local God-fearing community called the Amish. His plan that day was horrifically simple. He was going to abduct some school-age girls / sexually assault them. When he was finished doing that, he was going to kill them; and then when he was finished doing that, he was going to turn the gun on himself and take his own life.

So he bought his paraphernalia, he wrote his suicide note, he hopped in the car, drove to the local Amish school house. Barged in on them in the middle of their lesson, took ten ten-year-old girls and was just about to begin the act of binding them and sexually assaulting them when, mercifully, he heard the sound of sirens.

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So he had to expedite his plan. So what he does now is—he takes out his gun and he unloads round, after round, after round, after round into these ten ten-year-old girls, killing five of them instantly. And then ultimately, he kills himself.

Some of us remember this story—it’s a horrific story. If you’ve heard of this story—the early 2000’s—oh, how our heart just sank. I mean, what kind of a person does this? Then five of these ten-year-old girls are clinging for dear life in the hospital. Then we hear that this local Amish community—they didn’t have benefits / so as the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months—the medical bills just continued to escalate. My goodness—it’s here, when the global community, in an astounding act of generosity—

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—we chipped in, and we gave $4.3 million in excess of what these families needed for their kids. The Amish elders held a meeting: “What do we do with the excess $4.3 million?” Here they are—bantering, back and forth, as it relates to their ideas—and one suggestion is made over here / another suggestion is made over there.

Finally one of them said: “What about the widow of Roberts? Who’s going to care for her?—look out for her kids?” It was immediately decided what they would do. They marched over to her home, and they gave her a check for a million dollars. They said: “We hold no grudge against you. We forgive you. Look after your children.” I’ll never forget the CNN reporter, taking in the scene—shoves a microphone into one of these Amish elders’ faces and just asks the question, “How can you forgive?”

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And I love his response—this Amish elder said: “Because I’m Christian. That’s what Christians do.”

If the insignia of the world is vengeance, then the badge of the believer is forgiveness—it’s when you love the unlovable. How do you really know you’re saved? How do you really know that Jesus has paid it all for you and you have received that payment in full?

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How do you really know that you have passed from death to life? Is it just some prayer that you prayed? Jesus, in our text, says one of the strongest witnesses that His children have to a dying world is we forgive, and forgive, and forgive.

The strongest witness of our homes is not the absence of conflict. I love what Tony Evans says—he says, “If you put two people together and they never argue, never fuss, never fight / they agree on every single thing, one of them ‘ain’t necessary.” [Laughter] God has called us into oneness—not sameness.

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He has not called Bryan to clone Korie into my image. We’re different. We have different philosophies—Korie and I have—on everything / from which way to put the toilet paper and how to squeeze the toothpaste—she does it incorrectly from the middle, and I do it the right way from the bottom up [Laughter]—and different philosophies on the toilet seat. [Laughter]

How do we take—this is the dance of marriage—how do we take two incredibly different people and experience oneness and not sameness? In that journey, there’s bound to be conflict. 

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The way that I announce to the world that there’s something different about my home is that, when the conflict happens, we forgive, and forgive, and forgive.

Our text is an interesting one—it’s right in the middle of relationships. You need to know that Jesus, in His ministry—He only uses the word, “church,” twice—both in the Gospel of Matthew. The first time it is in Matthew, Chapter 16—they are in Caesarea, Philippi. Jesus decides to hold a little pop quiz—He says to His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah.” Here’s Peter—he says, “Here’s who You are; You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus says, “That’s exactly right Peter; and upon this rock, I will build my church.”

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Now, two chapters later, Jesus uses the word, “church,” for the final time in His ministry. He says: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If that doesn’t work, take several people with you. If that doesn’t work take some elders with you. If that doesn’t work, take him before the church.”

It’s interesting that Jesus—parenthetically—he is talking about conflicts within the context of saved people. Following Jesus Christ does not incubate us from mess. In fact, Jesus even assumes mess in the church. Jesus also assumes it in the home.

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Right after our passage—Matthew 18:21-35—the next passage / Matthew 19—he now goes into marriage. Right in the middle of church and marriage—the two great institutions that God has ordained—is this whole subject matter of forgiveness.

I love Peter because, in verse 21 of Matthew, Chapter 18, you can still see Peter is stuck on verse 15 because, in verse 15, Jesus says, “If your brother”—we could insert: “If your husband” / “If your wife”—“sins against you, here’s how you do it. Go and tell him his fault.” Then he deals with this whole issue of forgiveness.

Peter says to Jesus, “Now, now, now Lord, how many times will my brother sin against me and I’m obligated to forgive?” I love Peter—he doesn’t even wait for Jesus to answer—he says, “Seven times?” He’s got to be saying it with a smile, “Seven times?”—[Laughter] —

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—because in Peter’s day, the rabbis said you only had to forgive three times. Three mulligans are all you got. Peter takes the number three—multiplies it times two—adds one for good measure to land him on the number of completion. He thinks he’s doing good—“Seven times?” [Laughter] And classic Jesus says, “I don’t say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”

Now, someone in here is going: “That’s 490? Good. My spouse is on 489…” [Laughter] You know what Jesus is doing here? He’s employing a literary device called hyperbole—He’s exaggerating to make a point. It’s what we parents do all the time when we tell our kids, “I’ve told you a million times to clean up the room.” Now chances are you haven’t told them a million times—unless they’re 16 / you have. But chances are you haven’t told them a million times.

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What you’re saying here is: “We’ve talked about this extensively. I’ve told you over and over again.” You are exaggerating to make a point.

Here’s the point that Jesus is making—our horizontal forgiveness of one another knows no statute of limitations. It is to have no expiration date because the vertical forgiveness we have received from God, through Christ Jesus, has no expiration date as well. [Applause] Jesus is saying, “I’m calling—forgive, and forgive, and forgive.” And if I’m going to split theological hairs, I want you to understand our passage is not so much as reconciliation as much as it is on forgiveness; but the truth of the matter is—we cannot be reconciled unless we first forgive. So He’s saying, “If you’ve come to the foot of the cross, forgive, forgive, and forgive.”

[Studio]

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Bob: Well, we’ve heard today Part One of a message from Bryan Loritts about the importance of forgiveness. Really, it’s not an option for a follower of Christ; is it?

Dennis: It isn’t. Because we’ve been forgiven, we are commanded to forgive; and he made a point of that. What does it mean to forgive another person? It means you give up the right to punish them.

What did God do with you as a result of the cross of Jesus Christ? He gave up the right to punish you because He died on the cross for your sins; and as a result, you can have eternal life. You can experience reconciliation with Almighty God; and in turn, on the horizontal, as Bryan has exhorted us here today—you’ve got a responsibility to forgive your spouse / you’ve got a responsibility to ask forgiveness of your spouse.

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I don’t know where you are / what you’re facing with your spouse, but you may need to make a phone call back home or maybe to a place of work, saying, “Sweetheart, will you forgive me for…?” and then say it. Admit what you’ve done—name it / call it what it is. Then ask for them to give up the right to punish you.

Bob: You know, I think there are a lot of people who are surprised when they find out that these are some of the themes that we speak to on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise that we host in February each year. Because I think folks think it’s going to be a cruise—you’re going to hear some light and fluffy messages about marriage and about romance. You’ll hear some of that; but honestly, there’s a lot of substance to what is shared onboard the cruise each year. I wanted to make sure our listeners are aware—we are about somewhere between 75 and 80 percent—I think was the last number I saw—sold out for next year’s cruise.

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So if you are interested in being with us on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise—when we sail out of New Orleans next year on February 13th / come back on the 18th——you’d be joining with Dennis and Barbara, Mary Ann and me, Kevin DeYoung and his wife are going to be with us. Paul Tripp, H.B. Charles, Michael Jr., Jeremy Camp are going to be onboard, and David Phelps. We’ve got a great lineup for this year’s cruise.

We’re almost out of cabins. If you’re interested, this is a great time to get in touch with us because I also heard that cabin prices go up on June 25th. We are in the countdown to sell-out mode. Call 1-800-FL-TODAY if you would like to be a guest on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise in 2017. Maybe you’ve got a special anniversary coming up in 2017 or a special occasion you’d like to commemorate—we’d love to have you join us—

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—the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. You can get more information when you go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and click the link about the cruise. The information’s available there, but be sure to call us if you want to take advantage of the special pricing that is available right now for FamilyLife Today listeners. Call 1-800-FL-TODAY and say, “I want to know more about the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.”

Now “Happy anniversary!” today to our friends, Charles and Marilyn Keener, who live right here, in our home town of Little Rock, Arkansas. They are Weekend to Remember alumni. They’ve been to a couple of Weekends to Remember over the years. They’re celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary today. “Congratulations!” to the Keeners.

As you guys know, anniversaries are a big deal. We think they’re a big deal, and we think they deserve to be celebrated. We are the Proud Sponsor of Anniversaries.

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We want to thank those of you who partner with us to make this ministry possible. You have no idea how many marriages are continuing to celebrate anniversaries because of your investment in this ministry. We’re grateful for the partnership that we have with you.

We hope you can join us back tomorrow when we are going to hear Part Two of Bryan Loritts’ message on the subject of forgiveness. Hope you can be with us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

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