Summary: Those who are touched by grace will extend it to others.
INTRO.- ILL.- After a long search through her purse, a lady who had just boarded a bus handed the driver a $20 bill. Noting the driver’s disapproving look, she snapped, “Well, I’m sorry, but I don’t have a dollar bill!”
“Oh, don’t worry, Lady,” said the driver, “You’ll have nineteen of them in just a minute.”
“I DON’T GET MAD. I GET EVEN.”
I don’t know who said that, but many people have sure adopted that philosophy in life.
ILL.- Each week Kevin Tunell was required to mail a dollar to a family he’d rather forget. How’s that? They sued him for $1.5 million dollars but settled for $936 to be paid a dollar at a time. The family expected the payment each Friday so Tunell wouldn’t forget what happened on the first Friday of 1982.
That’s the day their daughter was killed. Tunell was convicted of manslaughter and drunken driving. He was 17 years-old at that time. She was 18. Tunell served a court sentence. He also spent seven years campaigning against drunk driving, 6 years more than his sentence required. BUT HE KEPT FORGETTING TO SEND THE DOLLAR.
The weekly restitution was to last until the year 2000. In other words, 18 years. Tunell was to make the check out to the victim, mail it to her family and it was to be deposited in a scholarship fund.
The girl’s family took Tunell to court four times for failure to comply. After one court appearance, Tunell spent 30 days in jail. He insisted that he wasn’t defying the order, but was haunted by the girl’s death and tormented by the reminders.
He offered the family two boxes of checks covering the payments until the year 2001, one year more than required. BUT THEY REFUSED THE CHECKS. It’s not the money they were after, but penance, they said. PROBABLY MORE LIKE VENGEANCE THAN PENANCE.
The mother said, “We want to receive the check every week on time. He must understand we are going to pursue this until August of the year 2000. We’ll go back to court every month if we have to.”
I know that most of us would never question that family’s anger. BUT IS 936 PAYMENTS ENOUGH? Is 936 payments enough for that family to demand from Kevin Tunell? Will that family ever be able to put the matter to rest? In some ways, no. I realize this. But will they ever try to forgive? How much restitution is enough?
If you were that family, HOW MANY PAYMENTS WOULD YOU REQUIRE? Or better yet, HOW MANY PAYMENTS DO YOU NOW REQUIRE OF SOMEONE? What about the person who has offended you? What do you require of him or her? How many payments?
No one makes it through life without being hurt or injured in some form. No one. Just like that family, you’ve been a victim.
That 18 year-old girl died because someone drank too much. And perhaps a part of you has died because someone spoke too much, or demanded too much, or neglected too much.
EVERYONE GETS WOUNDED IN LIFE. No one is immune. And when we get hurt or wounded, we must decide: HOW MANY PAYMENTS WILL I DEMAND FROM MY OFFENDER?
We may not require that our offender write checks to us, but we have other ways of settling the score.
SILENCE is one way. We just ignore them when they speak to us.
DISTANCE is another way to settle the score. When they come your way, you walk the other way.
NAGGING is another way to get back at people. “Oh, I see you still have fingers on your hand. It’s funny that you never use them to call me on the phone.”
It’s amazing how creative people can be at getting even. “As long as I suffer, you will suffer. As long as I hurt, you will hurt. You cut me, and I’ll make you bleed, even if I have to reopen the wound myself.”
ANGER IS A BAD ADDICTION. It may start innocently enough with small doses, but we soon come back for more and more. And we generally up the dosage. We not only despise what he did, but who he is. And we even begin to hate anyone like him.
ILL.- You know. Like “All men are jerks.” “Every TV preacher is a huckster.” “You can’t trust a woman.” “All politicians are crooks.”
HURT BECOMES HATE. And hate grows. Seeking vengeance. How will the score be settled? How many payments will I demand from my offender?
Peter had a similar question for Jesus in our text in Matthew 18.
V. 21 “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Peter is worried about forgiving too much. The Jewish law required that the wounded person forgive three times. But Peter is willing to double the number and throw in one more for good measure. HE PROBABLY THINKS JESUS WILL BE IMPRESSED. But he isn’t.