Summary: Forgiven people must be forgiving people.
Truth: Forgiven people must be forgiving people.
Aim: I want to encourage the practice of biblical forgiveness.
Resource: Forgiveness, Gary Inrig
When Kay Lee married Tom Goetz, she was sure she had found her Prince Charming. Their courtship and wedding all seemed like a fairy tale—a huge ring, an engagement announcement on the front page of the society section, a lavish wedding, and an exotic Bermuda honeymoon. However, reality made a rude entrance on the honeymoon when Tom sat her down in their hotel suite and said, “You are now Mrs. Frank Thomas Goetz, Jr., and there are things I don’t like about you.” Then he began to list her shortcomings, things that needed to change for her to be worthy to bear his name.
Tom was from a wealthy family and a gifted athlete who had received offers from several major-league baseball teams. He turned them down to enter into the family business. Later, he accepted a commission into the navy. Despite his obvious potential, he seemed unable to find his place or finish what he had started. In time, Kay would learn that her husband was battling maniac depression.
Tom and Kay had two children. She was a trained nurse but began a modeling career. To outsiders they seemed to be the All-American family but behind closed doors the marriage was in serious trouble. Kay said, “I had a mink, I had money, and I was miserable.” She professed to be a Christian but it wasn’t real.
After six years she had enough. She took the kids and left, spiraling into promiscuity and a long affair with a married man. Tom wanted her back, whining, “Kay give me a reason to live; I’m thinking of killing myself.” Trying to shock him out of his self-pity she said, “Go ahead and kill yourself. I could use the money from the insurance.” She shook her fist at God, blaming Him for her situation.
But none of the men or anything else she tried could fill her emptiness. One night at a party, a friend told her, “Why don’t you quit telling God what you want and tell Him that Jesus Christ is all you need?”
“Jesus is not all I need,” she shot back. “I need a husband. I need a home. I need ____,” and she walked away. The Holy Spirit would not leave her alone that night. The next morning she found herself on her knees crying out to God, “God, I don’t care what you do to me. Please, just give me peace!” At that moment, she says, “God gave me the Prince of Peace.” Instantly, she understood her need for Christ and opened her heart to receive Him. She said she went down on her knees a harlot, and stood up a saint.
The change was dramatic. She stopped dressing provocatively. Her divorce was final and she had no desire for reconciliation. As she grew in her new found faith she became convinced the Lord wanted her to try to restore the marriage. It was too late. Before she could make contact with Tom, he had hung himself. Her guilt was overwhelming. She took it to the Sin-bearer who’d paid for all her past, present, and future sins.
A new love gripped her heart. It was to know God’s Word. She enrolled in a Christian college and met and married Jack Arthur. In time Kay began a Bible-teaching ministry, Precept Ministries, that reaches around the world in study groups, radio, and television. She is the author of almost a hundred books. Kay Arthur has never gotten over the fact that she is a forgiven woman.
Maybe your story is not so dramatic or painful but we all need forgiveness. We need forgiveness from God and others. We need to extend the gift of forgiveness as well. The turning point in Caleb and Catherine’s marriage in the movie Fireproof started with Caleb experiencing God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Once he understood how much God forgave him, he was able to extend that forgiveness and grace to his wife.
Forgiveness was most significant to Jesus. He taught his disciples about it regularly. It’s found in his instructions on prayer and is a key subject in his most famous stories like the Prodigal Son. But most powerful of all, He died to make it possible for us to be forgiven. The rest of the New Testament makes it plain that followers of Jesus are to live a new life, a life of forgiveness.
There are two kinds of forgiveness spoken of in the Bible: judicial forgiveness and relational forgiveness. Today we are looking at three texts from your Fireproof lesson to understand and apply judicial and relational forgiveness. The Bible teaches that forgiven people must be forgiving people.