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Summary: As God has forgiven us in Christ, so we have the obligation to forgive those who have wronged us.

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Grace and Forgiveness

Matthew 18:21-35

INTRODUCTION

A. Kevin Tunell mails a dollar to a family he would like to forget.

1. Sued for $936 to be paid dollar at a time.

2. Pay each Friday for 18 years to remember the first Friday of 1982.

3. He was driving drunk and killed their daughter.

4. Served a court sentence, spent 7 years campaigning against drunk driving, six more than his sentence required.

5. Keeps forgetting to send the dollar.

6. Family has taken him to court four times.

7. Not defying the order but he is haunted by the death and tormented by sending the dollar.

8. Offered the family 2 boxes of checks to last until 2001, one year longer than required.

9. They don’t want money, they want penance.

10. Mother, “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 will go back to court every month if we have to.”

11. Yes, he is guilty and needs to be punished and the family has a right to be angry.

12. But how much is enough? Will they be at peace when the final payment is made?

B. We all will be injured in some way at some time

1. How much payment will we want to soothe our anger?

2. Unforgiveness eats more at the one who won’t forgive than the one the unforgiveness is directed at.

3. Unforgiveness affects our worship. Jesus said, “So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” (Matthew 5:23)

C. What about when reconciliation is not possible?

1. We make our best efforts.

2. What if the person won’t forgive?

3. Turn the matter over to God and ask him to resolve it.

4. The important thing is that we do our part.

5. But don’t wait until death occurs because that takes the situation to another level.

D. Story of the Unforgiving Debtor.

1. Told to teach about God’s grace in forgiveness and to instruct us in the same.

2. To teach the unlimited forgiveness of Jesus and that ours should be also.

3. King who decides to bring his accounts up to date with servants who owed him.

4. One owed him millions and could not pay.

5. The king demands everything he has be sold to pay but the man begs for mercy.

6. King forgave his debt.

7. Same servant finds servant who owes him far less.

8. Wouldn’t forgive but had him jailed until he could pay.

9. Other servants told the king, and he called in the servant and said, “You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?”

E. Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.”

HATRED AND UNFORGIVENESS ARE COMMON

A. Everyone gets wounded.

B. Ways we can respond.

1. Silence is a popular response which says, “I’ll just ignore this person.” Ever had this happen?

2. Distance is another and proposes, “I’ll avoid them when they come around.”

3. Nagging is another and with cutting remarks we remind them of how they have hurt us.

C. We are creative at getting even instead of being forgiving.

1. Some want to get even for Sept. 11, 2001 instead of just bringing justice.

2. Don’t want others to heal if we can’t.

3. Want others to suffer just as we are suffering.

4. “Revenge is sweet.” Revenge only seems sweet, it has costs.

D. Unforgiveness and hatred are like bad addictions.

1. We nurse our hurts with anger (anger arises out of fear with fear and love being the two primary emotions we experience).

2. “You hurt me so now I’m going to hurt you.”

3. Anger numbs the hurt so we come back for more like drugs.

4. Move from anger over the situation to anger at the person.

5. Insult, shame, and ridicule energize us to react.

6. We become drugged on anger and unforgiveness.

7. Soon we hate the person and anyone like them (“You can’t trust a woman or man.” “Every preacher is a huckster.”)

8. Our hurt can turn into hate and hate becomes rage.

9. We become junkies.

E. The example of the addict.

1. Addicted to alcohol.

2. Starts as a social drinker but can’t control it.

3. One beer once gave a buzz but now it takes more and more.

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