Build A Bridge And Get Over It
April 14, 2013
Forgiveness is one of the crucial aspects of life. We all have a desire for it, and we all have a need for it. We want forgiveness from others, and we ask for forgiveness from God. But what do we do when it’s our turn to forgive?
In this message, Pastor Ed Young reveals four powerful, life-altering steps that lead to extending forgiveness to others. Because when someone has done us harm, that’s when it’s time for us to build a bridge and get over it.
Sometimes I watch late-night television, I know you do, too. Many times as I’m watching I will see these infomercials. Anybody here ever bought anything from an infomercial? Lift your hand, come on. We’re in church. At all of our campuses. Yeah. I bought something the other day that was pretty interesting. Have you seen this? The WAXVAC. I hate to confess this but I have more ear wax in my ears than anyone you’ve ever seen. In fact, my doctor has told me, he goes,
“Ed, I’ve been practicing medicine for decades. I’ve never seen anybody with the amount and the density and the quality of wax like you.” So I thought, I need one of these puppies. The WAXVAC. Well, I got it. You turn it on, put it in your ear… <whistling>… boom! Turn it off. Turn the light on and see how much wax you’ve vacuumed out of your ear. Here’s the problem. This thing’s a piece of crap. Because yeah, it might work in your ear. It might work in your baby’s ear. It might work in your cat’s ear. Not mine. I got some serious ear wax! I need like a vacuum cleaner situation. The WAXVAC. Pretty hilarious. They overpromise and under-deliver.
A lot of people do that, don’t they? Especially when it comes to selling things. Overpromise, under-deliver. Overpromise, under-deliver. Today’s subject matter… unforgiveness. Resentment. Bitterness. Holding a grudge. It overpromises and under-delivers.
Here’s the phrase that pays: Unforgiveness is unforgiving. Let me say it again. Unforgiveness is unforgiving. Unforgiveness is…. Yes it is.
I launched this series called Bridges several weeks ago. Session 1 I said, Cross that bridge when you come to it. That’s a bridge idiom, a bridge saying. And we basically unpack the fact that man has tried to build a bridge from his side to God’s side. We said that every world religion is basically a colossal human construction plan that tells you and me to put on our hard hats, our goggles, our Red Wings, our tool belts, and we maybe can build a bridge from our side to God’s side. By being philosophical, by being smart, by keeping our nose clean. But, on our best days our bridges are about this big compared to the bridge … THE bridge, of Biblical Christianity. Because Biblical Christianity separates itself from all the other world religions. Biblical Christianity is unlike the other faith systems because Biblical Christianity says God built the bridge. He built a bridge. Something we don’t deserve from his side, from the divine side, to the human side, thereby affording us the opportunity to cross the bridge. The bridge is a cross, and we have to cross the bridge. Jesus lived righteously. He died sacrificially. He rose bodily. He has given you and me the capacity and the choice. We either cross the bridge or not. The good news of Christianity is the bridge has been built! The other world religions, they don’t really have good news. Work harder. Tighten up your tool belt. Buy some more safety goggles. When those Red Wings wear out make sure to buy some Ostrich Red Wings. By another piece of machinery… it doesn’t get you to where you need to go. We’re made for the bridge. The cross is a bridge, we have a bridge to cross.
The second week of this series I talked about burning bridges. We all have a bridge and many times our bridges are burned. Torched. Totally a smoldering heap. We meet pyromaniacs in the world, people who abuse us. You know what I’m talking about. Maybe it’s an ex-spouse, maybe it’s a coach. Maybe it’s that uncle who did something unmentionable to you. Maybe it’s someone who has been dead for years. Maybe it’s your spouse now. Maybe it’s a kid. I don’t know who it is but we’ve all met those pyromaniacs and a lot of us are walking around with third-degree burns.
There’s nothing like a burn victim. The pain, the agony, the scarring. It’s horrendous. I would argue that all of us in this massive environment and in all of our other environments, some massive, have some resentment going on. We have some bitterness going on. In fact, I would say we have enough bitterness to blow the roofs off every one of our churches. We do.
The word resentment means to think again. Forgiveness, though, means to send away. We either barbeque it and turn it over and over again on the rotisserie grill of our minds with resentment… or we send it away. We talked about burning bridges last time. We said that forgiveness is more for the burned than the burner. It’s more for the victim than the villain. It’s more for the Vader-ee than the Vader-er. Debt canceled.
“Yeah, but you don’t know what they’ve done to me!” Debt canceled.
“Yeah, but they’ve messed me around. They burned me and betrayed me, torched me and taken advantage of me.” Debt canceled. To send away. That’s what it means to be forgiven.
Jesus did the preemptive work of forgiveness on the cross. The guts of the gospel is all about forgiveness. It’s simple on one hand, but it’s so, so deep none of us will understand the true depth of it until we get on the other side. It takes an entire life to process it.
The bridge reminds us of our greatest problem: sin. Sin is an archery term. In the original language, hamartia. It means to miss the target. We’ve all missed the target, right? God’s target is perfect, we’ve missed it. This bridge reminds us of our biggest problem, sin. It also reminds us of our greatest need. What’s that? Forgiveness. Isn’t that just crazy? That Jesus has already taken the pain and the brunt of your sins and turnovers and mine. He’s already done the forgiveness work. All we do is receive what’s been done. We cross the bridge. We say, you know what, I’m gonna ditch the human construction project. I’m crossing the bridge. And once we cross the bridge our souls are power-washed. We’re forgiven. We’re cleansed. Our home is in Heaven. We have a purpose that starts here on planet Earth.
Then I said that God does something after we cross the bridge. And I want to talk about this today. He gives us the nature of a bridge-builder. We have a nature, a new nature, that of a bridge-builder. We’ve been forgiven, thus we should greatly forgive others. The gift of forgiveness, we receive this gift that’s been given to us. We can give the gift to ourselves and others who torched us and taken advantage of us, burned us and betrayed us. It’s tough. It’s not easy. But as I said, unforgiveness is unforgiving. It’s like the WAXVAC. Overpromises and under-delivers.
“Man, I just wanna get that person back! I want to make them pay!” and if you’re like me do you ever have these fantasy conversations with the people who have hurt you and abused you? Like you see them in a restaurant and you’re with a group of your friends. And you walk up to them and…
“Hey, let me tell you something man!…” And people are like… “oooh! Ahhh!! Oh you got him, man! You go girl!” Some of the guys here are like, on not only conversations I have these fantasy fights! Like, zzsh! Zzsh! Hiyeaaaaaah!!! Pretty funny.
Unforgiveness is …. Unforgiveness is…. Unforgiving.
Well today we’re talking about this. You’ve heard this again, another idiom. Build a bridge and get over it. When it comes to people who have hurt you and messed you around, who have hurt me and messed me around. Hey! Build a bridge and get over it. A bridge is made for traffic. Get over it. Get over it. Get over it.
Let me talk about some tough stuff right now. Let me talk about what it means to have third-degree burns. Because a lot of us have some serious resentment, a lot of us as we’ve looked at our lives they’re in a smoldering heap and we’re burned. Third-degree burns.
The first degree is that of God. We burn because we harbor hurt and anger. We burn our fellowship, not relationship, with God. Parents, are you feeling me? Can your kids ever do something where they forfeit the fellowship they have with you?
“Hey son, you’re out of fellowship.”
“Hey honey, you’re 45 minutes past curfew.” We’re out of fellowship. You’re still my child but we’re out of fellowship. Jesus, in the gospel of Matthew 6:15, “If you don’t forgive others their sins your Father will not forgive your sins.” This is serious stuff! We’re not made for resentment. We’re not made to hold a grudge. We’re not made for this. If anyone had an opportunity, a right, to hold a grudge or to be hateful or to die in anger it was Jesus. While we were doing the worst to him on the cross he was doing the best for us on the cross.
So he says give a little bit of what I’ve given to you. And you wonder… I just feel like I’m out of control. I just feel like I just don’t know. I just feel like I can’t really hear God. I just don’t know the problem. <vacuuming sounds> That ain’t gonna work. It’s gotta be supernatural. It’s about forgiveness. Unleashing unforgiveness is unbelievable. Get that wax outta there. Get that wall that’s impeding the communicative process between you and God out of there. I’m telling you it’s unforgiveness.
The second degree would be with others. Others. You burn others… “Oh, I’ve been hurt. I’ve been taken advantage of.” And we go to others and ya-ya-ya-ya-ya! Yo-yo-yo-yo-yo! Ya-ya-ya-ya-ya! Yo-yo-yo-yo-yo! The next day: Yo-yo-yo-yo-yo! Ya-ya-ya-ya-ya! Yo-yo-yo-yo-yo! Ya-ya-ya-ya-ya! And it keeps going and going. It’s like, man shut up!
Your friends are running from you. You’re just saying it over and over, the same junk, the same funk. Telling people how hurt, how burned you are. You can’t believe people would do that! Proverbs 17:9, what an up-in-your-grill, up-in-your-face verse. “Whoever would foster love covers over an offense…” What’s the bridge about? The bridge is about love, right? Forgiveness, all of that. “… but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” What are you talking about? What are you saying? Who controls your life? Because you see, if I harbor resentment, if I harbor unforgiveness I say, hey, you control me. That’s right.
“Hey coach! You know, the one that verbally abused me! You control my life!”
“Hey, ex-spouse! You’re using our kids as pawns. You control me.”
“Hey, business partner! You said it would be a 50:50 deal. You ripped me off. Hey, you control me!”
And maybe you’re pointing to a graveyard somewhere, “You control me.”
The least-invested have the most control and so often the most-invested have the least control… IF… we harbor unforgiveness. Wow. Others. What’s wrong with your friendships? What’s wrong with your relationships? You’re out of control, man.
People say, “People in the world are out of control. People in the world are crazy. Cra-cra.” That’s true! You ever said that? People are crazy. They’re crazy. I would argue if Jesus is not Lord of someone’s life they have a form of insanity and they get crazier and crazier as they get older and older. You don’t believe me just take a panoramic view of our world. The answer is the bridge. The cross is a bridge, we have a bridge to cross. So much of this has to do with unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is unforgiving.
First-degree burns – God. Second-degree burn – others. People are running from you. Third-degree – it’s you and me! We burn ourselves!
“I wouldn’t do that.” Yeah, we do it. I’ve done it before. Job 5:2, “Resentment kills a fool.” Resentment means to think again. “Resentment kills a fool and envy slays the simple.” Emotionally we tear ourselves to pieces. So many emotional issues. And I believe, even though some here are predisposed to mental illness, I believe because we expose ourselves so often to unforgiveness it can set us into a crazy spin cycle where we go over the edge and the ledge emotionally. We wear ourselves out.
Also physically, read the new research! Physically, if we don’t forgive, if we are all angry and we Tupperware all these negative feelings… back pain, neck pain, digestive problems, sickness, all sorts of sickness. Some even say heart disease and cancer can be pointed back to this. Again, unforgiveness is unforgiving.
First-degree is God. Second-degree is others. Third-degree is you and me. Emotionally in your life and mine. Physically in your life and mine. Also spiritually. Let me just touch on this spiritually.
Ephesians 4:26-27, “In your anger do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down while you are angry and don’t give the devil a foothold.” Most of the yardage the devil gains in your life and mine has to do with unforgiveness. He’s an incredible rusher, yet we invite him into our lives. He doesn’t take over your life or mine. We say, hey! Here’s a foothold! And a foothold becomes a stronghold and a stronghold becomes a <acckkk!> choke-hold. Chokes us out. We tap out, guys, because of unforgiveness.
You see, God wants to spare us the pain of being burned. God says, “You’re made in my image. You’re not made for unforgiveness.” What does his word say? Build a bridge and get over it. Who are you struggling with? Who comes to mind every time I mention the word unforgiveness? Every time I talk about being burned or torched? Betrayed or taken advantage of? That person, that face. Who comes to mind? Build a bridge and get over it. The only power we can tap into his this divine power. We have the nature of a bridge builder.
So many people I talk to, they have received forgiveness. They’re like, “Oh yeah, I’ve received forgiveness. I understand God’s forgiven me. Yeah, Jesus did the forgiveness thing on the cross. I got it. I got it. I received it. I receive it!” But there’s a big honkin’ difference in receiving forgiveness and experiencing forgiveness. That’s the Tweet of the Day. I’ve learned through my preparation, let me say it again, there’s a difference in receiving forgiveness and experiencing forgiveness.
How do we live it out? How do we live it out on the playing field of life, on the court of life? On the track of life? How do we do it? How do we do it? How do we do it? Let’s talk about some positive stuff now. Let’s talk about how to build a bridge and get over it.
What do we do? This bridge right here, designed by our incredible creative set design team, let’s give them a crazy round of applause again.
Man, one <stomp-stomp-stomp-stomp>… two <stomp-stomp-stomp-stomp>… three <stomp-stomp-stomp-stomp>… four <stomp-stomp-stomp-stomp> Four steps. You’re holding a grudge, just drudge in the sludge all the way back to the bridge. The bridge of forgiveness. Build a bridge and get over it.
First step – Lead out in construction. God took the initiative. This bridge, the step… think about God, what he did when he sent Jesus… he stepped toward you and me. And we take a step toward him, we’re on the bridge. All right, we’re on the bridge. So now we have the nature of a bridge-builder, we lead out, we take the initiative. Romans 12:18, “If it’s possible, as far as it depends on you live at peace with everybody.” So that person or persons, don’t worry about them. You build a bridge deck, you build a foundation. You get over it. If they want to get over it, cool. But you do what you have to do before God, and we know what to do. We lead out in construction. We build a bridge and get over it.
Second step – Let go of your emotions. Let go of your emotions. Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as Christ God forgave you.” Feelings are not foundational. I’ll say it again. Feelings are not foundational. Feels are great. Feelings are amazing. They’re not foundational. But Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the spirit, check this out, “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, feelings, gentleness and self-control.” No, that’s the Ed Young version. That’s the Ed Young ill-advised version. That’s the Ed Young Perversion Version. Feelings? That’s not in there! Some are like, “oh, that’s great. Feelings, yes. Amen. Praise the Lord.” No. “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Self-control. Self-control. Self control!
“Well, I’m not gonna forgive you until I feel like it.” If you don’t feel like it that means you need to forgive.
“I’m not gonna forgive that guy until I feel it.” It ain’t gonna happen. If you feel it, if you wait until you feel it, you’ll clock out waiting to feel it.
That’s like working out. Yesterday I ran. So I didn’t say to myself, “I’m just gonna wait until I feel it. When I feel like putting on my workout outfit and the shoes and everything, then when I feel it, I feel it, then I will work out. OK, I feel it. Yeah. Whoo! Yeah, I feel good. It feels so good working out.”
I never FEEL like working out. Have you ever looked at someone’s expression when they’re running? Look at people’s expression. Men and women look like they’re giving birth. <groaning… moaning> the worst expression I’ve ever seen in my life. You never feel like working out. Afterwards, though, you’re like, “Whoa! I feel it! I feel good! I’m so glad I did!”
So often you just do right. You know what to do. Jesus has given us this awesome gift. He says give it… forgiveness… we know what to do. When we do it we’re not gonna feel it. But after we do it, then we’ll feel it. After we do it, then we’ll feel it. So do what’s right! If you’re waiting to feel it, you ain’t goin’ to!
Let me talk to the men in the house. We got that machismo, bravado, tough! Some of the guys we can’t even say the words. And we think, “Oh yeah. I’m sorry if you took it the wrong way. I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings.” That’s pathetic. We’re saying, “You’re an emotional basket case. That’s not an apology. Or this whack stuff that all of the attorneys have crafted recently. Here’s how attorneys ask for forgiveness. Ready for this? “I take full responsibility for my actions.” Can you say stupid? That’s how out of control and cra-cra the world is. Guys, here’s how you say it: “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” but a lot of us say it, “Will you fafafa-fafayayaya! I’m gonna do it… Will you forgagagagagaga! Yayayayaya!” We can’t say it.
Guys, repeat after me. It’s tough for me. I was wrong…. Oh come on! Yayayayayayaya! I was wrong. Will you forgive me? That’s it.
Now ladies, I’m not gonna help you off the hook. Guys, we’ll say “I’m sorry, will you forgive me?” quicker than the women. I can’t wait for the blogs and the Tweets and the “Oh I can’t believe you said…” Not in every situation but many times. What are women gonna do? “Oh, I’m not. No, no. I’ve gotta feel it. That’s fine for you to say those words but start acting, start changing, and then I’ll forgive you! I’m not… I’m not gonna say… I’m not gonna say those words. No.”
“Will you… haaaa!!!!…. will you for-hooooooa-aaa! I was wro…aaaaaaahhhh!”
“What’d you say, honey?”
“Wroooooooohhhh!” They can’t say it! AAAAAhhhh!!!
Jesus did the preemptive forgiveness work. He forgave us before we were even cognizant of our sins against him. So when we walk the bridge and have the nature of a bridge builder we’re pretty much saying, “I forgive you. I forgive you. I don’t feel it. In fact, you’re a jerk. You’re an igmo. You’re selfish. I forgive you.” What would happen if we lived this stuff out?
Build a bridge and….. <audience: get over it>. Build a bridge and….. <audience: get over it>. Build a bridge and….. <audience: get over it>. That’s it.
Lead out in construction, number one. Number two, let go of your emotions. Number 3, lift them up to God. Pray, don’t make them prey, p-r-e-y… pray. That was funny. Pray! Pray for your enemies. Pray for them. Because when you pray for them you’re putting them on a holy ‘notha level.
Here’s what Jesus said, Luke 6:27-28, “But to you who are listening I say love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Pray. You start praying, the whole situation and scenario will change. It doesn’t mean you become BFF’s forever, it doesn’t mean you meet for coffee once a week, it doesn’t mean you go on some cruise together to Cancun. No, it doesn’t mean that.
The fourth step – leave the situation with God. Leave the situation with God. “Vengeance is mine,” Romans 12:19 says, “I will repay.” Who can settle accounts better, you or God? God, yeah. Leave them with God. And God might not settle it until on the other side but I’m telling you he’s gonna settle it. He’s going to settle it.
We have to do the bridgework with the people we love the most. Build a bridge and get over it. We have to do the bridgework with those who are in authority over us. Build a bridge and get over it. We have to do the bridgework with our competitors, our peers. Build a bridge and get over it. Build a bridge and get over it! Build a bridge and get over it! Spouse, build a bridge and get over it! Ex-spouse, build a bridge and get over it. CEO, build a bridge and get over it. Teenager, build a bridge and get over it. Orphan, build a bridge and get over it. Those addicted to substance, build a bridge and get over it. Get over it. Get over it. Get over it. Get over it. Get over it. Get over it. Get over it. And for many of us we’re gonna have to pray that prayer sometime two to three times a day, maybe every five minutes! But it’s worth it. Unforgiveness is unforgiving. But unleashing unforgiveness is unbelievable.
Next week, you don’t want to miss Fellowship. I’m talking about a drawbridge. Many of us need boundaries and walls in relationships. Some of you are being held hostage, the traffic is stopped on your bridge because relationally you’re hanging out, you’re rubbing shoulders, you’re on the bridge with people who mess you up and hold you back. So you make sure you’re here next time.
We have just a few more minutes in our service, let’s bow for prayer.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]