Summary: Introductory Comments 1.
1. This season we are to present Christ to the world. To remind them that He came and to tell them why He came. Some of us are able to do this through the gift of singing. Christmas songs that bring us back to Bethlehem itself. Some of us, including our Sunday School children, present programs and pageants to tell the old, old story of the child in the manger. The good news of Christ’s birth is proclaimed in sermons. There are advent wreaths and candlelight services. All proclaim - Jesus Christ is born!
2. He came to live amongst us men for our salvation. Proclaim it far and wide.
3. As we began to see last week, the call to present Christ is not just a call that occurs at Christmas. It is a call that is for every day of the year. And it is not just for those who sing, act or preach.
4. It is a call for each of us. We are to make Christ known. Have you made Him known? Have you presented Him to the world, at least to those whom God has put you in contact with?
5. Today we continue to see how we present Christ to the world. And as we do, let me tell you the importance of your doing this. For people do not come to know Christ through Christ pageants, but in seeing lives that have been changed, by seeing Him in us. As we said last week, Christians ought to look different that those who are not. And as people see we are different, they see Christ, for He is the difference.
6. Last week we saw how we are to clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. This week we see how we are to:
"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
We see why this is important as part of our witness and how we are to do this.
1. Our focus is on forgiveness, but first just a few words on the call to bear with one another. To bear with another is to put up with their faults or unpleasant traits. Things that irritate us about them. Things we dislike. Could be the tone of their voice, an facial expression or a habit like not putting the toilet lid down. Sometimes it might be because those traits remind us of someone from our past.
2. But we need to be aware of these things because they affect how we react to that person. In fact, this may be one reason why we find it easier to forgive some people than others. Two people may do the same wrong to us, but the one we find easy to forgive and the other almost impossible. And it might simply be that we find the one hard to put up with.
3. Paul tells us that we are to forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. When we forgive we present Christ to the world
4. For Christ’s birth is all about forgiveness. Zechariah, in saying how John the Baptist would prepare the people for Jesus, said he was to
give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
5. To know Jesus is to know that He came to bring God’s forgiveness. Even near His last breath on the cross, Jesus would ask those His Father to forgive those who were killing Him. The reason we want people to know Christ is so that they w ill repent and receive salvation, which includes the forgiveness of their sins.
6. Without the knowledge of the forgiveness of sins, we do not even know why this season has any importance at all.
7. We can tell people that Jesus came to forgive them. But our message is lost if we bear unforgiveness in us. They really will not understand what we are saying. And those who hear us will not believe us. For we will be saying one thing, but as Christ representative, bearing His name, we will be doing just the opposite.
8. The strong witness of the early church was how the early Christians loved one another. When there is unforgiveness in a Christian or a church, then we are not presenting Christ. We can sing all the Christmas songs we want, but our presentation is shallow and unreal.
9. Forgiveness is a gift. It is God’s gift to us through Christ and it is a gift we are to give to others. The best gift you might be able to give someone this Christmas is to forgive them.