Summary: What’s been done for you is greater than what’s been done to you.
Title: Grace Is Greater Than Your Wounds
Text: Matthew 18.21-35
CT: What’s been done for you is greater than what’s been done to you.
FAS: Each week Kevin Tunell is required to mail a dollar to a family he'd rather forget.
They sued him for $1.5 million but settled for $936, to be paid a dollar at a time. The family expects the payment each Friday so Tunell won'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. She was 18. Tunell served a court sentence. He also spent seven years campaigning against drunk driving, six years more than his sentence required. But he keeps forgetting to send the dollar.
The weekly restitution is to last until the year 2000. Eighteen years. Tunell makes the check out to the victim, mails it to her family, and then the money is deposited in a scholarship fund.
The family has taken him to court four times for failure to comply. After the most recent appearance, Tunell spent thirty days in jail. He insists that he's not defying the order but rather is 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. They refused. It's not money they seek, but penance.
Quoting the 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."
Few would question the anger of the family. Only the naïve would think it fair to leave the guilty unpunished. But I do have one concern.
Is 936 payments enough? Not for Tunell to send, mind you, but for the family to demand? When they receive the final payment, will they be at peace? In August 2000, will the family be able to put the matter to rest? Is 18 years' worth of restitution sufficient? Will 196 months' worth of remorse be adequate?
How much is enough? Were you in the family and were Tunell your target, how many payments would you require? Better stated, how many payments do you require?
No one—I repeat, no one— makes it through life free of injury. Someone somewhere has hurt you. Like the 18-year-old, you've been a victim. She died because someone drank too much. Part of you has died because someone spoke too much, demanded too much, or neglected too much.
Max Lucado, In the Grip of Grace (Word, 1996)
Is grace good enough for Kevin? Is grace good enough for the family? Have you got someone who needs the forgiveness? Are you in need of such forgiveness yourself?
This is my third week of the sermon series Grace Is Greater. This week I am going to look at grace being greater than our wounds. Grace is far greater than anything the world throws at us.
Do you need to clean out your own closet and see if you need to deal with some things you have not dealt with in a while? Maybe you think you have been hurt too badly. The journey with grace begins with a willingness to forgive even if forgiveness seems like it may be too much to ask for.
You say things like:
“You don’t know what I’ve been through.”
“Not after what he did to me.”
“It is too painful to think about.”
Maybe this is where you are. Maybe you’ve done the math and come to the conclusion that the hurt done to you is greater than the grace you are able to give.
That’s the first step we have to make to go on this grace journey: a willingness to forgive even if it doesn’t seem possible to make the equation work out.
Let’s go to the Bible. Matthew 18. 21-35. In Matthew 18 Jesus tells the story of the unmerciful servant to help us understand not just the greatness of the grace we have received but also the greatness of the grace we are to give. Grace is a two-way street. Receiving it from God but refusing to give it to others is not an option. Grace flows.
Peter comes to Jesus in [Screen 3] Matthew 18. 21, Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
How many times does Peter have to forgive someone? He even gives a good guess of seven. Surely Jesus will give him a bit of praise for that. Peter is ready to be done. He has been hurt too badly too many times.