Sermon Illustrations

Man Learns to Forgive His Enemy

The apostle Paul said, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

We don’t serve in order to merit God’s forgiveness. We serve because we have already received God’s forgiveness. And our service is simply an expression of our gratitude to God for the forgiveness we have already received.

I read a story about a man who was dying who contacted a Christian, and asked him, “Would you come and visit me in the hospital? I want you to tell me about God.”

That simple request, while it would have excited most Christians, jarred this Christian. He instinctively wanted to say No to the request, but he sensed that Jesus was prompting him to say Yes. Fortunately, the words came out, “Yes, I will come and see you.”

You see, the reason for this Christian’s inner turmoil was understandable. The man in the hospital who wanted to see the Christian had an affair with his wife and caused their marriage to break up. They subsequently married and then later divorced, and the pain of the whole affair still haunted the Christian man.

“Whenever I thought of that man,” the Christian said, “I remembered that he was the reason my kids had to shuttle between two homes. He was the cause of tremendous grief. So there he was dying of lung cancer, days before a godless eternity, asking me—of all people!—to help him.”

One cannot but wonder: How would I handle such a situation? What would I do?

The Christian continued, “At first, I didn’t know if I could follow through with it, but then I remembered that it wasn’t about me and what I wanted. It was about God and what he desired from me as a servant of Jesus Christ.

“I went to the hospital with the love of Jesus in my heart and told that man the good news that he could receive the gift of salvation if he put his faith in Christ alone. With a lot of emotion and tears of joy he opened his heart and prayed to receive God’s forgiveness.

“He died three weeks later, but I was told that he spent those last weeks of his life joyfully telling everybody about his new-found faith.”

That is wholehearted servanthood. It is going to someone who has nothing to offer you, someone who has actually hurt you deeply, and sharing with him the good news of the gospel. The Christian man was able to forgive and serve the dying man because he himself had been forgiven by God. And that is a powerful motivation to Christian service.

From a sermon by Freddy Fritz, Wholehearted Servanthood, 11/14/2009

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