(from a message by Dr. Charles Hamilton of the Upper Room Fellowship in Columbiana)
TEXT: Luke 15:11-32 – The Parable of the Prodigal Son
1. Unforgiveness always keeps score. (anger)
Vs 29 “These many years I have served you.”
The older brother counted . . . He counted his own good works and he counted his brothers sins. He was in bondage to his anger and could not even enjoy the fact that his brother was still alive and restored to his family.
Complete forgiveness unties the knot and “remembers no more.” That means deliberately not dwelling upon it any longer. When you let go of your anger and work toward forgiveness, you are setting yourself free from bondage. We may remember a hurtful incident, but through forgiveness our emotions are healed and the pain is gone. “You will surely forget your trouble, remembering it only as waters gone by.” (Job 11:16) What a liberating feeling that is!
2. Unforgiveness boasts of its good behavior. (arrogance)
Vs 29b “I have never disobeyed your command at any time.”
The older brother had an inflated opinion of himself. Let’s get real – who can honestly say, “I’ve never disobeyed.”? How many times, when pondering an offense done to us, do we make a list of our own good deeds? – as if that somehow justifies our unforgiving attitude.
3. Unforgiveness complains. (accusations)
Vs 29c “you never gave me . . .”
The older brother is not accusing his brother here – he is actually accusing his father!
4. Unforgiveness divides & separates. (alienation)
Vs 30 “But as soon as this son of yours came . . .”
The older brother could not say “my brother.” In his heart, he had disowned his brother. He wanted others to share his pain so he brought others into his imagined offense instead of setting himself free from it.
5. Unforgiveness continues to bring up the offense.
Vs 30 “. . . who has squandered your property with prostitutes . . .”
The older brother emphasized his brother’s offenses, implying that he did not deserve grace, love & favor. People stuck in this trap want comfort, so they poison others with their offense and bring them into their prison with them.
6. Unforgiveness resents the blessings enjoyed by the offender.
Vs 32 “Your brother was dead but now is alive . . .”
He didn’t even see his brother as being alive (because he had disowned him in his heart) and couldn’t enter into the joy of his return.
Samet December 28, 2015
After 8 1/2years of being together, we have serpaated. The past 2 years have been so stressful especially on my 13 year old daughter. A few months ago my stepson came to live with us, although serpaated we still share a house due to financial reasons. My stepkids have never liked me and always been disrespectful with their father just looking the other way yet when the 16year old came to live with us I treated him as my own child. When he was sick I took care of him. I couldn’t be rude or ignore him as it just wasn’t right. He apologised for his rudeness saying that my caring and kindness has made him realise how disrespectful he had been. My husband however cannot control his son and they have argry outburst with my husband taking out his frustration on my daughter. I have come to realise that even though I am willing to forgive his kids and move on he cannot accept my child even his son cannot understand his rudeness and stubbornness towards my daughter. I believe that to save my marriage my husband has to accept my daughter and learn to forgive like I have and get over his resentment for our marriage to work. We expect God to forgive us but we find it so difficult to forgive and enjoy life. As Julie has learned the power and happiness of forgiveness yes it’s HARD .but when you take that first step it’s worth it. To help, have the attitude I’m leaving them in God’s hands .Andrea I know it’s not easy and it’s only been the past 4 weeks that I can look at my stepson and accept him couldn’t stand him being around before. Be strong everyone..I pray for my husband to forgive as I have so that the time in the house will not be stressful for my daughter!Reply
Karen April 5, 2016 — Post Author
What an excellent example of what God can do in our hearts when we choose to obey him by forgiving others. Thank you for sharing your struggle – I’m sure many others will be able to relate to what you have written here.