Sermon: Building Stronger Marriages #3: Developing a Spirit of Mercy



Download the Notes:



Purpose: To show the damage bitterness does and how mercy heals

Building Stronger Marriages #3 

Developing a Spirit of Mercy

Matthew 18.21–35

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • January 24, In the year of our Lord, 2016

Scripture Reader and Reading: Dan Calvert – Matthew 18.32–35

Song Leader and Song Suggestions: Phil Joseph – Songs of forgiveness


  1. We glorify and thank for God for His mercy, 
    1. should we not then learn to show mercy?
    2. If we receive mercy and show it, we can live with a good conscience.
  2. A good conscience leads to healthy relationships, 
    1. first with God,
    2. then with those around us.
  3. The opposite of a good conscience, guilt, ruins us. 
    1. When we sin,
      1. we violate God’s law, and
      2. that brings two things:
        1. Justice leading to punishment, and
        2. guilt that ruins our lives.
    2. For these reasons, the Lord places a premium on forgiveness,
      1. which comes through His truth and mercy.
      2. Learning to confess our wrong
        1. opens the doors to that mercy and forgiveness, and
        2. opens the doors for us to show mercy toward others.
  4. When we receive God’s mercy, 
    1. we can show it to others, and
    2. when we show it to others,
      1. we make things better between ourselves and those other people.
      2. Let us learn then about guilt, bitterness, and mercy.


  1. What Guilt Does to Us 
    1. Leads to self-deception,

      2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
      But the Lord weighs the hearts.
      (Pro 21.2)
    2. Makes us scoff at those who want to help us,

      12 A scoffer does not love one who corrects him,
      Nor will he go to the wise.
      (Pro 15.12)
    3. Makes us want to cover our wrong with alleged good,

      22 So Samuel said:
      “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
      As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
      Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
      And to heed than the fat of rams.”
      (1Sa 15.22)
    4. Makes us self-focused,

      14 The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways,
      But a good man will be satisfied from above.
      (Pro 14.14)
    5. Causes health decline,

      3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old
      Through my groaning all the day long.
      4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
      My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.
      5 I acknowledged my sin to You,
      And my iniquity I have not hidden.
      I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
      And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.
      (Psa 32.1–5)
    6. Creates a fearful spirit,

      1 The wicked flee when no one pursues,
      But the righteous are bold as a lion.
      (Pro 28.1)
    7. Do you want
      1. to work for a person with these problems?
      2. to have workers with these problems?
      3. a spouse with these problems?
      4. neighbors with these problems?
      5. parents with these problems?
    8. Do our employers, workers, spouse, neighbors, parents
      1. what us with these problems?
      2. Is it possible that we have guilt and have not acknowledged it?
  2. The Sources of Guilt 
    1. The sins of youth,

      7 Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions;
      According to Your mercy remember me,
      For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.
      (Psa 25.7)

      1. Can our past
      2. haunt our present relationships?
    2. Immorality

      3 For I acknowledge my transgressions,
      And my sin is always before me.
      (Psa 51.3)

      1. How can we have premarital relations and
      2. assume that it will not affect our future relationships?
    3. Not listening to parents,

      1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Eph 6.1–3).
    4. The works of the flesh,

      19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5.19–21).

      1. What do those things do to a relationship of any kind?
    5. Our words,

      6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell (Jam 3.6).
  3. Unforgiven Guilt Leads to a Bitter Spirit 
    1. A man feels the sting of guilt but blames others for it.
    2. Does bitterness affect others?

      15 …looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled… (Heb 12.15).
    3. Bitterness causes self-blindness,

      3 “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?” (Matt 7.3–4).
    4. Bitterness of guilt ruins your health,

      3 There is no soundness in my flesh
      Because of Your anger,
      Nor any health in my bones
      Because of my sin.
      4 For my iniquities have gone over my head;
      Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
      5 My wounds are foul and festering
      Because of my foolishness.
      6 I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly;
      I go mourning all the day long.
      7 For my loins are full of inflammation,
      And there is no soundness in my flesh.
      8 I am feeble and severely broken;
      I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.
      (Psa 38.3–8)
  4. Freedom from Guilt 
    1. Humble yourself and repent,

      9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up (Jam 4.9–10).
    2. Seek the Lord that He may reveal to you all your offenses,

      23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
      Try me, and know my anxieties;
      24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
      And lead me in the way everlasting.
      (Psa 139.23–24)

      7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matt 7.7).

    3. Seek forgiveness
      1. First become a Christian – Acts 2.38
      2. As a Christian ask for it – 1Jo 1.9
    4. Thank God for allowing you to suffer from the ravages of guilt and bitterness,
      1. knowing that such awakened your soul, and then
      2. you sought the help of the Lord,

        20 [Give] thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ… (Eph 5.20).
  5. Then Seek Relief from Bitterness 
    1. Overcome bitterness by forgiving those who have offended you,

      29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you (Eph 4.29–32).
    2. Overcome bitterness by going the second mile,

      40 “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away (Matt 5.40–42).


  1. We gain the spirit of mercy 
    1. when we learn the greatness of our offenses toward God, and
    2. when we learn the greatness of His mercy toward us,
      1. forgiving us for whatever we have done.
      2. If I can see the magnitude of my sin against God, and
        1. that I have sinned against my neighbor, but
        2. that God freely forgives me because
          1. of the death of His beloved Son,
          2. it should create in me a spirit of mercy.
  2. Matthew 18.21–35 illustrates the difference between 
    1. our sin against God and
    2. the sin of our neighbor against us.
  3. A spirit of bitterness will ruin all associations. 
    1. A spirit of mercy will heal all those associations.
    2. What will you do from this day forth?