Summary: Why should we forgive?

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MATTHEW 18:21-35

I want to give credit for parts of this sermon to Richard Donovan at, also the illustration is one I have heard and don’t know to whom I owe credit. Forgive me Please?

Our text for this Sunday is about forgiveness. It is a difficult word to hear, because we find forgiveness difficult -- both to receive and to give. However, it is also an urgent word, because receiving and giving forgiveness is central to our faith.

First, we received God’s forgiveness. We can pass on only that which we have received. Having experienced forgiveness at the hands of God and God’s people, we are then called to make it possible for others to experience it. Thus the circle of Christ’s love expands ever wider to encircle one more lost sheep -- and another -- and another.

Verses 15-20 tell us how seriously we are to take these violations. Verses 21-35 tell us how gracefully we are do deal with them.

Forgiveness is one of those things we talk about then forget about.

We often say we have forgiven, when in fact we haven’t.

Consider today, an anniversary we well remember, 9/11.

The world trade center, thousands of live lost in a matter of hours. Destruction on such a scale it is still hard to imagine. Then the reaction of people in the Arab world, laughing and dancing, celebrating as we grieved. How can we possible forgive? Even now in Iraq our soldiers are fighting an enemy not of their own choosing, terrorist claiming they are fighting a Holy War or Jihad. War is not holy, nor do I want to believe that God is the cause. In my opinion man himself, is the cause. World dominion, I am right and you MUST believe as I say, and then bow before me as the Supreme Ruler. How can we possible forgive some one like that?

Yet in the midst of all this we hear the voice of Jesus saying FORGIVE!

Sometimes in our lives things happen beyond our control. An accident perhaps that takes the life of someone we love. We blame someone else and find it hard to forgive. A burglar breaks into our home and steals our prized possessions, we find it hard to forgive someone who makes us feel vulnerable and violated. Emotions of anger and fear and frustration. How do we forgive?

Someone betrays a trust, and we feel resentful, how do we forgive.

Again the voice of Jesus saying Forgive.

Over and over again we hear him say;”Forgive, even as my Father has forgiven you”.

Some times we play the “blame Game”; it’s not my fault so I don’t have to forgive.

In New Orleans even now people are hurling insults at one another, blaming everyone else for everything and anything. Heads will roll comes one cry! We will find out who is responsible comes another.

Who cares! People are hurting, people are dying, do something to help, for heavens sake! Besides, there is enough blame to go around. Worry about that later. Practice the adage; lead, follow, or get out of the way.

And what about the people who are the victims of the storm, and now need help desperately. Sitting in the heat, surrounded by water, no where to go and no way to get there. Seemingly forgotten, and neglected. Who will they blame? How are they to forgive?

It’s been said that time heals all wounds, but I wonder how long it takes. If we harbor bitterness it will only make us bitter and the wounds will never heal, only fester and eat away at our souls, never giving us peace. Only when we forgive can we move forward.

I heard one reporter ask a man what he was going to do now.

With tears streaming down his face he said; we have to pick up the pieces and move on! It’s hard sometimes to do that, still that is what we must do! Put it behind us and move on. That requires forgiveness!

Consider just how great is the Grace, God has given us.

Forgiveness beyond all measure. Free, no cost involved. Just accept it and pass it on.

It’s difficult for me sometimes to accept that God has forgiven me for all I have done. The only way I can repay him is to pass it on to those who have wronged me. That to, is hard to accept.

I want to tell you a story about real forgiveness.

A father was sitting with his son in the intensive care facility at a hospital. He knew his son was terminal, just a matter of time before he passed away. He was concerned about his son’s faith, so he began to talk to him about Jesus. But his son interrupted and said: Dad, I need to tell you about a dream I had. Quietly the father said OK and sat listening to his son as he related his dream.

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