How Many Times Should I Forgive?
SBS: Wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving
Intro: I turned 49 yesterday and birthdays are always a time for contemplation. As I get older and recognize that I have more yesterdays than tomorrows I like to hope that I have become a little wiser. I do know that in the space of that 49 years I have offended a lot of people. Most of them not intentionally. What does a person do who has been offended or sinned against? Matthew reports the word of Jesus to us here.
In communicant’s class it happens every time. The young people whom I have been doing everything I can to keep their attention suddenly come to life and start asking all kinds of questions as soon as I mention the fact that our church has discipline. They want to know what this is all about and how it is that people get excommunicated. Isn’t that only for the catholic church, they say.
I take that opportunity to talk to them about how they handle their own differences and difficulties with other people.
EVERY PERSON HERE SHOULD KNOW WHAT JESUS SAID ABOUT DEALING WITH PEOPLE WHO HURT YOU.
- THE PROCEDURE FOR DEALING WITH OTHERS. VV. 15-20
- Personal involvement v. 15-
A four-year-old was praying one night, having been listening to the Lord’s prayer at church: “And forgive us our trashbaskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.”
- People’s involvement v. 16
- Community involvement v. 17a
- Excommunication v. 17b
- THE PROMISE IN DEALING WITH OTHERS VV. 18-20
- The Lord’s v. 19-20 #.
- THE PURPOSE OF DEALING WITH OTHERS vv. 21-22
- The question v. 21
- The answer v. 22
The real reason for any kind of church discipline is to enable forgiveness.
• Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.—C. S. Lewis
The well-known secular humanist and novelist in England, Marghanita Laski, said just before she died in 1988, “What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me.
In November 1991, Jerry Jenkins wrote a bizarre true story about a man awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call. He was groggy. The girl on the other end was weeping. “Daddy,” she said, “I’m pregnant.”
Though stunned beyond belief, he forgave her and prayed with her. The next day he and his wife wrote her two letters of counsel and love.
In the letter he wrote
Though I weep inside, I can’t condemn you, because I sin too. Your transgression here is no worse than mine. It’s just different. Even if my heart did not shout out to love and defend and protect you—as it does—the New Testament tells me I can’t take forgiveness myself and withhold it from others.
Three days later the man received another phone call. His daughter was shocked by the letters. She was not the one who had called earlier.… Apparently some other girl had dialed a wrong number.
“These letters are my treasure,” the daughter later said, “real love letters written by a godly father who never imagined he would have to write them to his own daughter.”
When John Wesley was traveling by ship to America he heard an unusual noise in the cabin of General Oglethorpe, the Governor of Georgia. Wesley stepped in to inquire. It turned out that Grimaldi, the Governor’s servant, had devoured the entire stock of the great man’s favorite wine. “But I will be avenged!” cried the Governor, who ordered the poor man tied hand and foot to be carried away for severe punishment. “For you know, Mr. Wesley,” stormed Oglethorpe, “I never forgive!”
“In that case, sir,” replied Wesley, “I hope you never sin!”