Forgiving the One You Love
About the Guest
Forgiving is hard, so why should we do it? Pastor Bryan Loritts agrees that forgiveness is irrational and costly, but reminds us that it's also incredibly liberating. Without forgiveness, he says, true freedom is impossible, for Christ himself freed us from sin and death by forgiving us.
Pastor Bryan Loritts agrees that forgiveness is irrational and costly, but reminds us that it’s also incredibly liberating.
Forgiving the One You Love
Bob: In the Book of First John, the Bible says that if a man says he loves God but hates his brother, he’s a liar. Pastor Bryan Loritts applies that to marriage and asks the question, “What if you say you love God, but you have anger or hatred for your husband or your wife?”
Bryan: It is a completely American illusion to minimize our faith to just “Me and Jesus,” treat our spouse like garbage, and to think we can walk up into worship and “Me and Jesus are okay.” You’re not okay. Hear me—you and God aren’t right when you and your spouse aren’t right.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, June 21st. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. So, how does a couple move from conflict to joy and reconciliation? We’ll hear from Pastor Bryan Loritts about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. You know, it occurs to me that there are a lot of people who would agree, theoretically, with the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation for a relationship to really thrive. Notice I said they agree with that theoretically. When it comes right down to the application side of that, they get a little stiff-necked and stubborn in how that gets applied.
Dennis: So there are a couple of questions I’d ask somebody just to see if you happen to be in the category Bob’s talking about here today. One is: “When’s the last time you asked your spouse to forgive you for something specifically you did or you didn’t do?”
Secondly, “When’s the last time when your spouse asked you to forgive them that you gave up the right to punish them / that you forgave them in return?”
I don’t see how two people / two human beings can live in such close proximity in this thing called marriage—especially Christian marriage—without, at many points during a month, having to revisit the subject of forgiveness and say: “You know, I’m sorry. I overstated that.” I mean, I said something to Barbara the other day that was a knuckle-head statement—it was just stupid. She called me on it / she hardly let me get it out of my mouth! [Laughter] I wish she’d allowed me to just birthed it fully first, but I just barely got it out and she nailed me. I said, “Oh, oh, okay! You know, I’m sorry. Yes, yes…”
Bob: “I exaggerated that a bit—overstated it.”
Dennis: “That’s not correct. You’re right.” I had to ask her—I said: “Will you forgive me for saying that? That was hurtful. I’m sorry I said that.” Well, when’s the last time you did that in your marriage?
You’re about to hear a great message from this year’s Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise—which was a week-long cruise in the Caribbean—by Bryan Loritts, who is a very good friend / pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in the Bay area. Bryan knows a little bit about forgiveness. He’s been married to Korie for a number of years—has three sons. They’re a real family—they have a lot going on. He’s not perfect / they’re not perfect, but he really ministered to the audience on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.
Bob: Yes; we’ve already heard this week the first part of his message about the substance of forgiveness—what it means, and what it is, and why we’re required to forgive. Today, we’re going to hear what that looks like / how you apply it—
—what do you do to seek and grant forgiveness in marriage?
And let me just mention—because we’re getting really close to selling out next year’s cruise—we’re going to be heading out of New Orleans Valentine’s week—headed to two spots in Mexico—along with Kevin DeYoung, and Paul David Tripp, and H.B. Charles. Michael, Jr.’s going to be there / Jeremy Camp is going to be singing. It’s going to be a great getaway week, but we have only a few cabins left. If you are interested in joining us and being a part of next year’s cruise, give us a call at 1-800-FL-TODAY and say, “I need more information about the cruise.” We do have some special offers going on this week and next week as we continue toward a sell-out. Give us a call today if you’re interested in being on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise for 2017.
Now, here’s Bryan Loritts with Part Two of his message on the subject of forgiveness from this year’s cruise.
Bryan: I want to give you, from this text, three principles of forgiveness. The first principle is—hear me—“Forgiveness is always irrational.” If it doesn’t have a little crazy to it, it’s not forgiveness. What’s rational is to keep score.
Is this a safe place for me to confess my sins to you? I love mafia movies—and I’m sensing some judgment in the room. [Laughter] I love mafia movies. One of my favorite mafia movies, of all time, is a movie that came out in 1987 called The Untouchables. Oh, you want to “Amen” that now; right? [Laughter] You were just judging me two minutes ago and “Amen! Preach it, brother”; alright? [Laughter]
In this movie, The Untouchables, starring Sean Connery and Kevin Costner—loosely based on a true story—they’re about to raid Al Capone’s safe house. Right before they raid Al Capone’s safe house, here is—Sean Connery stops Kevin Costner. He says: “Look, before we go in there, I just want you to understand we’re about to stir up a hornet’s nest—we’re about to cause a lot of trouble. Here’s what you need to understand—if they pull a knife out on us, we pull a gun out on them. If they send one of ours to the hospital, we send one of theirs to the morgue,”—kind of this tit for tat, back and forth, never let it go / up the ante. Sean Connery says, “That’s the Chicago way.”
You know the problem with many of our marriages? Many of our marriages function according to the “Chicago way”—tit for tat / “You get me, I get you back.”
Some of us—maybe it’s very aggressive: “You do something to me; I’m going to lash back out on you.”
Korie and I have a great friend of ours. When we were living in L.A. at the time, she was having some time in which she was trying to merge onto the 405 freeway. The woman in the lane in which she was trying to merge into wouldn’t let her over and almost ran her off the road. Our friend just couldn’t let that go—she is ticked off! She speeds up next to this person, later on down the freeway, going about 70/75 miles per hour. She motions to the woman who cut her off—she motions to her to roll down her window. Going about 70/75 miles per hour, down the 405, our friend takes a fistful of change and just chucks it at her.
Now, some of us have some of that in us—slam doors, curse, scream—others of us are way too passive. We’re not going to show you that you got to us.
You do something crazy to us and we just kind of respond with a sanctified, “Okay.” [Laughter] Some of us begin to kind of emotionally moonwalk—give the silent treatment. However you want to dress it up—whether it’s aggressive / you’re going for it like a shark, or you’re withdrawing like a turtle—it’s unforgiveness.
The first thing Jesus wants us to understand is forgiveness is always irrational. What’s rational is to keep score.
Second thing I want you to understand about forgiveness is: “Forgiveness is always costly.”
Here’s this king—and I’m thinking about the king—he just lets the guy go! “Now, I understand, king. You can’t get back your 10,000 talents, but you can get something back. For you to just let him go, literally, has financial implications on you. He is literally doing damage to you financially / it is costly.” That, I think, is Jesus’ point. If it doesn’t hurt, it’s probably not forgiveness.
Anybody here ever heard of Corrie Ten Boom?
Bryan: Her wonderful book—The Hiding Place—talk about a powerful story of forgiveness. Corrie Ten Boom—I encourage you—if you haven’t read her, read her. She was taken into a Nazi concentration camp, not because she was Jewish, but because her family harbored Jews. While there, she witnesses the murder of her sister, and the Nazi concentration camp guard who played a role in that.
Here’s Corrie Ten Boom—she notices this horrific act.
She ends up making it out. Years later, she’s teaching at a church. At the end of teaching at a church, she’s down front, shaking hands. In the middle of shaking hands, a person walks down the aisle, yelling her name: “Hey, Corrie! Corrie! Do you remember me? I am a Christian now! Do you forgive me?” She can’t believe who it is—it’s the Nazi concentration camp guard who played a role in murdering her sister.
Listen to what she says—she writes: “I had to do it / I knew that. The message that ‘God forgives’ has a prior condition that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘Jesus, help me,’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand—I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’” I love this—she says, “‘I don’t feel like doing it.’ So woodenly, mechanically,”—she writes—“I thrust my hand into the one outstretched to me; and as I did it, an incredible thing took place.
“The courage started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands, and then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. ‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried with all my heart.”
I love this! But she says, “I didn’t feel like doing it, but I allowed my faith to override my feelings.” Hear me—if you get nothing else, I say—get this one truism to the Christian life: “When going through life’s difficulties, always let what you know trump how you feel. If you wait to forgive, only when you feel like it, you will never get around to forgiving.”
Then what does she say at the end? “I had never known God’s love so intensely.” Watch this—she says, “When I let my faith override my feelings and I forgave, God and I, and our relationship, went to another dimension.”
Hear me—you and God aren’t right when you and your spouse aren’t right. It is a completely American illusion to minimize our faith to just “Me and Jesus,” treat our spouse like garbage, and to think we can walk up into worship and “Me and Jesus are okay.” You’re not okay.
Here’s some Bible—Peter says, “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way”—keep reading—“so that your prayers may not be hindered.” There are times when God hadn’t heard me because I have not lived with my bride in an understanding way. Jesus says, “If you’re in worship, and you remember that your brother has something against you,”—He says—“leave your gift at the altar”—stop your work! Now, as a pastor, I love that—“leave your gift at the altar”—but He says—“leave your gift at the altar. Go and make it right.”
Forgiveness is irrational. Forgiveness is costly. But thirdly: “Forgiveness is freeing.” When this person’s forgiven, what happens? The prison door is thrown open—there’s freedom!
What does this joker do? Having just been forgiven by the king of China’s debt, he finds someone who owes a hundred denarii—chump change: “Pay what you owe.”
The king goes, “Are you kidding me?” His act of unforgiveness lands him in jail.
When there’s forgiveness, he’s free. When there’s unforgiveness, he’s locked up. Hear me—forgiveness is the greatest gift—not that you give your spouse, or your dad, or your mother-in-law—it’s the greatest gift you give yourself. [Applause]
We used to have an alarm system. At night, right before I’d get into bed, I’d go to the pad on the alarm system. I’d type in the number and hit this little button that says “Stay.” When you do that, you know two things happen:
One—those on the outside can’t get close to you on the inside without tripping up the alarm—they’re held at a distance. Secondly, those on the inside can’t get outside without tripping up the alarm—it’s like we’re trapped.
You know, I’ve been in pastoral ministry long enough to spot people with forgiveness issues a mile away. You can’t get close to them. Words like “intimacy,” “vulnerability,” “transparency”—they’re foreign words. Why?—because, if you peel back the layers, something happened to you and you set “Stay” on the track pad of your heart.
You said, “That’ll never happen to me again.”
Now, it’s interesting—we’re talking forgiveness within the context of marriage, but I want to kind of zoom out a little bit because we all come into marriage with baggage. Maybe some of that baggage is unforgiveness issues you had with other people that weren’t resolved; and because it’s not resolved when you said, “I do,” you don’t know oneness.
Some of us in this room have daddy issues: “He wasn’t there / didn’t show up!” I have a really good buddy of mine just going through his second divorce.
You hear his story: His dad was a truck driver—he’s the youngest of like five boys—his dad promised each boy a ride in the truck. He did it with the four brothers—but on this day my friend, who was eight years old, was waiting on his dad to show up with the truck—his dad, not only never shows up, he never comes back home. He runs off with another woman on the day he was supposed to pick him up. You talk to his two ex-wives—they’ll say, “We never connected,” because my friend never dealt with that.
In a room this size, I’m sure there are stories of sexual abuse. I want you to hear me—forgiveness and justice can go, hand in hand. God is a forgiving God and a just God. The only thing God says is: “Vengeance is Mine. Let Me handle it.”
So I’m not making light of this. [Applause]
When you don’t deal with your stuff and you say, “I do,”—I was preaching this message years ago. A 80-something-year-old man came to me, with tears in his eyes, and said: “I need to write my father a note, and let him know I forgive him. He’s been dead for 60-something years.”
You will never know oneness in marriage while hitting “Stay” on the track pad of your hearts. Heavy message—I know. I’m a firm believer that the question of preaching is: “What do I do with what I just heard?” 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.
“Father, we love You. We praise You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” [Applause]
Bob: Well, again, that’s Part Two of a message from our friend, Bryan Loritts, given onboard the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise earlier this year, and a message that—I have to tell you, Dennis—got a standing ovation when that message was over. A lot of people were profoundly impacted by what he shared from the Scriptures.
Dennis: It resonated with the audience.
Just to review what he said: “Forgiveness is irrational”—it demands you to step out in faith. Secondly: “Forgiveness is costly.” We look back at the cross—what did it cost God? Well, it’s going to cost us to forgive, moving forward. And finally: “Forgiveness is freeing.” It allows a relationship to develop.
If you don’t forgive, you’re going to get stuck. It’s why we, as followers of Christ, need to liberally practice asking for forgiveness, and forgiving other people, and not get caught up in the gnats of life, trying to punish other people for how they disappoint us. We need to be liberal in our application of the gospel of Jesus Christ as we attempt to love others.
Bob: You know, I remember when Bryan Loritts presented this message. It was back in February on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. I think, for a number of couples who were with us, this was a breakthrough.
It’s interesting—because the couples who come on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise are in all different places in their marriage—there are some who are wondering if there’s really any hope left for their marriage. There are others who come thinking everything’s okay; and they learn: “There are still some ways that we can grow and improve. We have a good marriage, but there are ways to make it even better.”
That comes from the kind of interaction that happens as you listen to speakers like Bryan Loritts. I’m thinking about the upcoming cruise, which is February 13th through the 18th in 2017. We’re going to be leaving from the port of New Orleans and going out from Monday until Saturday. Onboard with us we have Paul Tripp, Kevin DeYoung, H.B. Charles, Michael, Jr. David Phelps is going to be onboard; Jeremy Camp is going to be with us—
—it’s a great lineup.
I mention all of that because we are at the point where we’re nearing a sell-out. I know we still have seven-and-a-half months before we sail, but this happens this time of year. We’re somewhere between 75 and 80 percent sold out for the upcoming cruise, and our prices for cruise cabins will go up on June 25th. If you want to take advantage of special pricing, and if you’d like to make sure you can secure a cabin, you need to call 1-800-FL-TODAY and say, “I’m interested in the cruise.” We can answer any questions you have / get you registered over the phone. Again, the way to take advantage of the special rates is to make sure you call 1-800-FL-TODAY.
You can also get more information on the cruise when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the appropriate link. We do hope you’ll join us. It’s a great celebration of marriage and a great time for couples to commemorate, maybe, a special anniversary or a special milestone in your marriage.
Again, more information is online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY with any questions or to get registered for this year’s cruise.
Now, “Happy anniversary!” today to Randall and Melanie Burns, who live in Houlton, Maine. The Burns are celebrating 30 years together as husband and wife—we just want to congratulate them.
We think anniversaries matter / we think your anniversary matters. We have an anniversary coming up this summer as we celebrate 40 years as a ministry. We’re taking this year to commemorate all of the anniversaries that have happened because of the partnership that we have with listeners, like you, who support this ministry and make everything that happens at FamilyLife possible. Thanks for linking arms with us. We appreciate those of you who are Legacy Partners and those of you who will give, from time to time. Great to have you on the team as, together, we celebrate all that God is doing through the ministry of FamilyLife.
And we hope you can be back with us tomorrow when we’re going to talk about God’s design—His plan for marital oneness / for intimacy—and how we can better understand that. We’re going to hear from Brian and Jen Goins tomorrow. Hope you can be here 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.
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