We've released a new version of SermonCentral! Read the release notes here.
Text Illustrations
“Artesian Forgiveness!” Matthew 5: 43-48 Key verse(s): 46 “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?”



Here at Beech Springs one of the things that sets these few acres apart is the artesian well that highlights our front yard. Beneath the spreading branches of the ever present beech trees which surround it, the spring is free-flowing year-round. When the original owner of the property had the well drilled several decades ago, he had know idea that, when the aquifer was pierced some one hundred or so feet below, he would create a free-flowing artesian spring. But that is precisely what happened. Since the flow could not be capped, a shallow basin was installed to catch the well-head flow with a drain that would take the water underground to Your Creek some fifty or so yards away.


As is so often the case with wells of this type, there is always the ever present danger of a clog in the drain pipe which flows underneath our house. Should that happen, the water has no place to go but overflow the basin and drain into the driveway. Over the years we have become accustomed to these blockages. Whether it is leaves, sand, or the buildup of beech nut husks, something always seems to get into the pipe and dam up the flow. Even though it can be a bother (especially in the winter) to be confronted with water in the driveway, one thing always strikes me when I resort to plunger and hose in an effort to blast through the subterranean clog. The well just keeps chugging away. Despite the fact that the precious water slowly seeps away into the gravel of our driveway, there is always more where that comes from. With a little help from a plunger and hose, the creek inevitably resumes its drink while the driveway awaits for another opportunity. There is always plenty of water for the creek to greedily consume and the spring never seems unwilling to forgive the consumption even when it is worthlessly poured out upon the driveway. It just keeps giving despite the taking.


And so it is with forgiving. I recall the story of Abraham Lincoln when he was running for president of the United States. Lincoln had many enemies but none more virulent than Edwin Stanton. Stanton went around the country calling Lincoln a fool, a buffoon and a , “tall, lanky, ignorant man.” When Lincoln was finally elected president, he did not forget about Mr. Stanton. When the time came for him to choose his cabinet, Lincoln decided that the best man for the job of Secretary of War was Edwin Stanton. With that choice many of Lincoln’s advisors raised a hue and a cry. They told him: “Mr. Lincoln, are you a fool? Do you know what Mr. Stanton has been saying about you? Do you know what he has done, and is trying to do to you? Do you know that he has tried to defeat you on every hand? Do you know that, Mr. Lincoln? Did you read all of those derogatory statements that he made about you?” After listening to their harangue, Lincoln arose and made this rather perfunctory statement: “Oh yeah. I know about it; I read about it; I’ve heard him myself. But after looking over the country, I find that he is the best man for the job.” Stanton accepted the nomination and soon became a very good secretary of war. Although throughout the early years of that service their friendship was never more than cordial, he gradually learned to appreciate, even admire the president. When Lincoln was assassinated in April of 1865, Stanton was deeply grieved. The man who had once hated Lincoln more than any man, had learned, through Lincoln’s grace and kindnesses, what true friendship was all about. At the president’s funeral Stanton delivered a very different kind of oratory than that which he had become so famous for but five years prior. After a moving and salutary address he made this now famous statement: “Now he belongs to the ages.” Because of Lincoln’s free-flowing and never-ending willingness to forgive and forget, he had turned a bitter enemy into a devoted friend.


Lincoln understood the concept of, what might be called, artesian forgiveness. No matter how much you pour out you must never expect it to return to you. You just need to be a free-flowing source of precious life-giving forgiveness. If you stop to examine where that forgiveness is going or find yourself focusing on how often that forgiveness is not returned but is simply soaked away without recompense, you might as well be a mud puddle whose worth is spent when the sun has dried its substance and turned it into a hardened patch of common dirt. Martin Luther wrote, “A Christian should have a well which cannot be dried up or exhausted, even if his charity is poured out like water into sand.” (Sermon on the fourth Sunday after Trinity, 1533. W.A. 37.101.) Christians like you and I must never be compared to mud puddles. That is the worth of the world and the amount of forgiveness an unbeliever might contain. It is never the source of our forgiving balm. We need to love without condition and forgive without the hope that what we give will be given back in full measure. We must never grow weary of doing good for our Savior has never grown weary of us.

Related Text Illustrations

Related Sermons

Browse All Media

Related Media