Sunday December 29, 2013 | Greg Boyd
Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
At the end of every year, it is good to look back on that year and resolve things that have been left unresolved. In this sermon, Greg shows how unresolved anger is pollution in our lives, and we should resolve it and shake off the devil.
This is the final sermon for 2013, and it’s important to take a look and ask ourselves what we need to forgive and give thanks for. These two things are related and important to one another. As the year ends, we should all take a look back and make sure we haven’t given the devil a foothold in our lives.
Paul, in Ephesians 4:25-26, says that it’s ok to be angry, but it becomes a sin if we give the devil a foothold in our anger. When we go to sleep with our anger, or we push it down and let it fester in our souls, then it becomes something more than just anger at a situation.
Anger happens when something you value is devalued. We place value on many things and when someone else makes it less valuable, such as scratching our car, we get angry. Now, we might place too much value on something and thus get angry when we shouldn’t, but sometimes anger can be normal. But when we allow our anger to become submerged and dwell inside of us, it becomes part of our being and stinks up the rest of our being.
The song by Florence, called “Shake it Out”, says a lot about this truth. “Regrets collect like old friends so that you relive your darkest moments”. When we push down our anger, they become like friends that never leave us and remind us of our darkest moments. “Every demon wants its pound of flesh”. If we give the devil a foothold, he becomes a parasite. Finally, Florence woke up and realized she’d been a fool and been blind. It was time to bury the dead horse they had been dragging around in the ground.
As we close out 2013, it’s important to take a look back and ask ourselves if there’s any pollution we need to shake out before 2014. It might be time to shake the devil off and stop with harboring our anger. To do this, we should ask ourselves an important question.
Are you less grateful, less joyful, or more negative than you were a year ago? If so, the Lord is telling you it’s time to stop the enemy from killing, stealing, and destroying your life. The enemy simply wants to destroy any life that we have, and he uses unresolved anger as a way to do this. When we are angry, we can’t see the good things in life, and we don’t live out the Kingdom.
The only way to stop anger is to extend grace and forgive. Forgiveness is about releasing a debt. When someone hurts us, they owe us a debt to make it better. But, if they don’t want to fulfill that debt, we can get stuck holding it and resenting that person. We should hang onto no debts because our value isn’t given by how people treat us. Rather, it’s given by Jesus on Calvary. Also, remember that God has forgiven you a debt that was infinitely greater than any debt anyone owes you.
Same thing applies if you need to forgive yourself. To not forgive yourself is to act like you are God because you are demanding a payment greater than God demanded. We should be quick to forgive ourselves because God has already forgiven us and has shown us our true worth.
Unforgiveness blocks our ability to be thankful. To be thankful, we must notice the little things God is doing in our everyday life. We will only be as grateful and joyful as we are aware of God in the ordinary, everyday happenings in life. We all look for miracles and signs from God, but if we look closely enough, they are everywhere around us.
It’s important, at the end of the year, to take a look back and reflect on things that we need to resolve. Anger is one of these. Instead of letting anger pollute our lives, we should be quick to forgive and, in so doing, shake off the devil from ruining our thankfulness and joy.