Summary: This is the eighth sermon in a series of messages based on I Corinthians 13. This series is entitled, "How to Improve Your Love Life."
The other day I saw an advertisement for Karate Lessons, and it made me think about the different lessons people usually take (Golf Lessons, Piano Lessons, Gun Saftey Lessons, etc.) But I’ve never seen an advertisement for lessons on one of the most important things we’ll ever do - lessons on how to love.
This is one of the reasons why we’re doing a series of studies on I Corinthians 13. This is the love chapter of the Bible and it teaches us how to love the people in our lives. If you want to love somebody -whether it be your spouse, your child, your neighbors, your enemies - then you need to treat them with the qualities mentioned in verses 4-7 ...
"Love ... keeps no record of wrongs" (v. 5) - that is, it doesn’t hold any grudges, it doesn’t keep a list of the names of the people who have hurt you.
I heard a story about a man who had rabies. This took place in the early 1900’s before a cure for rabies had been found. He was bitten by a rapid animal and taken to the local hospital. The doctor examined him, ran some tests, and broke the bad news to him.
He said, "I’m sorry but you have contracted rabies and there’s no hope for you. We can keep you comfortable during your last days, but that’s all. I suggest you write out your will and set your affairs in order."
The man was shaken but mangaged to keep his composure. He asked the doctor if he could have a writing pad and a pen. The doctor found him a pad and a pen and the man started writing.
The doctor left the hospital and returned several hours later. He caught the man still writing and said, "I’m glad you took my advice. It’s good to see that you’re working on your will."
The patient looked up and replied, "Doc, you don’t understand. This isn’t my will. This is a list of people I’M GOING TO BITE BEFORE I GO!"
Love isn’t like that. God says, "If you want to love somebody, then you will forgive and forget when they offend you."
I. How Can I Forgive and Forget?
Jesus gave a parable which answers our question. In Matthew 18:21-35, He tells the parable of the unmerciful servant .... (tell the story).
We can learn from the unmerciful servant’s mistakes. He failed to remember what his king did for him, he didn’t release the offender from his judgement, and he didn’t resolve to overcome evil with good.
If you want to forgive and forget, then ....
A. Remember what your KING DID FOR YOU.
That’s what the unmerciful servant should’ve done. He should’ve backed off and said, "I can’t hold anything against you. What you did to me is nothing in comparison to what I did to my king. He forgave me, surely I can forgive you." He should have remembered what his king did for him.
And that’s what you need to do when someone offends you. You need to remember what your King - Jesus Christ - did for you. If you know Him on a personal basis, then He has forgiven your entire sin-debt. It’s paid for and settled and God will never ever hold your sins against you. You are forgiven! How in the world can you NOT forgive others?
Think about that person who has offended you. What they did to you is NOTHING in comparison to what you’ve done to God - and yet He has forgiven you. He has forgiven you of millions of wrongs. Surely you can forgive someone for a few wrongs.
So remember what your King did for you. And don’t stop there. There’s a second step need you to take ...
B. Release the Offender from Your JUDGEMENT.
That’s what the unmerciful servant should’ve done. He should’ve said, "You no longer owe me anything. I forgive you." But he didn’t. Instead, he threw the man into prison.
Learn from the unmerciful servant’s mistake. When somebody wrongs you, release that individual from your judgement. Come to the point where you can honestly say, "All is forgiven and you don’t owe me a thing." Release them from your judgement.
"Rick, that’s something I can’t do overnight." YOU’RE RIGHT! Forgiveness is seldom something you can do overnight. Most of the time, it’s a process you have to work through. I call this "THE 490 PRINCIPLE" (vs. 21-22). Jesus said we are to forgive a person 7 times 70; that is, as often as we need to. Sometimes we make it seem like forgiveness is just a one time thing. But the truth of the matter is, forgiveness is a process. Jesus said that it’s continual - you keep on forgiving. Every time that memory comes up you forgive them again. Keep releasing them until you finally feel like you’ve released them from your judgment - then you don’t have to do it anymore. Because you’ve forgiven and forgotten.