Summary: What does St. Patrick’s Day have to do with Forgiveness? In this sermon we’ll find a great lesson on returning blessing for evil.
What must it be like to be kidnapped by foreigners at the age of 16? Succat found that out. Succat was born in Britain. His family was Christian but he considered himself to be a pagan. That is, until the awful day when Irish raiders had attacked Succat’s village and he had been kidnapped. Suddenly he realized that he needed something more then his own, man made, gods. He began to reach out to God and had a conversion.
When his captors returned to Ireland he was sold as a slave to a druidic high priest and sheep rancher. Most of this time was spent in solitude tending sheep. As he watched the sheep peacefully grazing he would turn his thoughts and prayers Heavenward. Then after 6 years he had a dream in which he felt impressed that God was telling him that it was time to escape. Since he spent so much time with no one else around but the sheep, it wasn’t that hard to walk away. He walked for 200 miles before reaching the Irish coast where he secured passage on a ship back to England.
With this kind of maltreatment the 22 year old man had every reason to be angry with the Irish and hate them for the rest of his life. But hatred cannot exist in a heart that is filled with the love of God. Succat later changed his name to Patricius (or Patrick) and went back to Ireland as a missionary to help rescue these people from bondage to paganism. March 17 is St. Patrick’s day. While we definitely don’t agree with much of Patrick’s theology or methods we can learn a great lesson on forgiveness from this man.
Romans 12:21—Patrick didn’t allow the evil that others did to him to overcome him. He chose rather to use the knowledge he gained as a slave to bring good to his captors
1 Peter 3:9—When we choose to return blessing for evil we also receive some of that blessing.
2 Kings 5:2, 3—Patrick is not the only example of returning blessing for evil. A young girl was kidnapped and taken to serve in the house of the commander of the Syrian army. When she heard that the commander had leprosy she could have rejoiced that he would suffer for the evil he had done for her. But instead she had compassion and told him how to be healed. As a result this man became a follower of the true God.
Proverbs 19:11—Because they were able to overlook an offence and forgive the offender both this girl and Patrick were able to lead their enemies to the Lord (which of course made them no longer their enemies).
1 Peter 2:23, 24—A Christian’s real example of this principal isn’t found in the "Patron Saint of Ireland" nor in a little slave girl from Israel. Our example in all things is to be Jesus Himself. If anyone could have retaliated when people did evil to Him it was Jesus. But instead He chose to offer eternal life to the very ones who had caused Him so much pain.
Romans 5:10—Jesus didn’t wait for us to "shape up" before He came to our aid. The Bible says that we were still His enemies when Jesus came to reconcile us to Himself.
Philippians 2:5-8—Unlike Patrick and Naaman’s slave girl, Jesus was not forced into slavery. He willingly took on the form of a servant so He could rescue those who were enslaved to sin—you and me. Now that’s forgiveness!