Summary: This sermon talks about the importance of forgiving others and the dangers of not forgiving.
Do You Charge to Forgive?
There was a time in Arizona that I had been feeling really uncomfortable about something, but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was. For about a month I was irritated with everything and everybody around me. Then one morning I woke up and my stomach was upset and I was angry even before getting out of bed and as I was walking across the room and I tripped on a pair of shoes that my husband had left in the middle of the floor, I instantly became enraged and starting mumbling something under my breath. As I got ready for the day I kept grumbling about the shoes and as I was walking through the house I felt the need to take this matter to the Lord in “prayer”.
So I began my prayer like this... Father I realize that I am wrong to get angry about the shoes, BUT ....
During my complaining and whining to God I noticed something unusual occurring in my conversation, I realized that I wasn’t complaining about the shoes anymore but now I was bringing up a bunch of old stuff that has happened in the past that I have not let go of. (Holy Spirit revealed truth to me)
At this point, then God entered the conversation; and he said “Are you ready to truly forgive now?”
A sign in a convenience store read, "Check Cashing Policy: To err is human. To forgive, will cost $10." This is a funny way to recognize the fact that people make mistakes, but it’s also evidence of the way many people think about forgiveness.
After God showed me that I hadn’t truly extended forgiveness he reminded me of some passages I had learned a long time ago.
Colossians: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Let me see: FORGIVE AS THE LORD FORGAVE ME and IF I DON’T FORGIVE GOD WILL NOT FORGIVE ME
Not only did the Lord take me to scriptures that I already knew, but also He had me reflect on two stories of men and how they handled forgiveness:
The 1st is the story of Joseph- Here is a man who was rejected, kidnapped, enslaved, and imprisoned and even forgotten by those he had helped. AND yet even after he had the power to punish the very people who betrayed him he was still merciful and repaid them with kindness.
The 2nd man is Moses- Here is a man who was just being obedient to God’s call, and all the while dealing with thousands of complaining, whining and ungrateful people and even after the many miracles they had witnessed they got impatient because their leader took too long on the mountain top with God and decided to make an idol. While on the mountain God told Moses what they were doing and said, “they are a stiff-necked people. Leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” Now understand Moses had a way out here, but instead of choosing it he stood in the gap on their behalf and prayed for God’s forgiveness over them and because of his prayers God did not destroy them.
Why is it so important for us to forgive others?
1. Because CHRIST forgave us.
ILLUSTRATION: Two brothers were playing, one was 5 years old and one was 2 years old. The 2 year old reached up and yanked his older brother’s hair. He screamed in pain, and his mother came rushing in. He told her what his brother had done, but his mother said was “HE is only 2 years old and doesn’t know what its like to have his hair pulled” and then left the room. A few minutes later she heard another scream and as she entered the room her 2 year old was crying. She asked the older child what had happened; he said, “You said he didn’t know what it felt like, well now he does.”
If we love someone the way Christ loves us, we will be willing to forgive. When someone hurts you deeply, instead of giving him what he deserves, we are to befriend that person. If we have experienced God’s grace, we will want to pass it on to others. By doing this we can break the cycle of “getting even” and instead show the example of reconciliation.