Summary: This sermon explores what Scripture says about love and forgiveness.
A. I want to begin today’s sermon with a few cartoons to get us thinking about forgiveness and how difficult and confusing a subject it can be.
1. The first cartoon shows a wife saying to her husband, “Forgive you?...Sure I’ll forgive you…the moment I see something I really want on the shopping channel.”
2. The second cartoon shows a woman standing with her arms crossed saying, “I know I’d feel better if I forgave you, but so would you, and I really don’t want that.”
3. The final cartoon shows two men talking.
a. One man is holding a ledger with the heading “Ted Forgiveness” and it has many markings on the page.
b. That man explains to the other man, “As you can clearly see by this ledger, you have been forgiven 490 times and are no longer covered by the biblical policy.”
B. So, would you agree with me that forgiveness is a challenging subject?
1. As you know, we have been preaching through a series on love and we are trying to learn how to make love a way of life.
2. In the earlier lessons, when we were talking about love in a general sense, the sermons weren’t quite so challenging.
3. But now that we are getting into the “every-day,” “rubber-meets-the-road” practice of love, we are finding the sermons a little more challenging.
4. Someone mentioned after last week’s sermon on patience, that I have left the realm of preaching and entered the realm of meddling.
C. Well, if you thought that was the case with the topic “love is patient,” then I’m guessing many will think I’m meddling even more with the topic “love forgives.”
1. So let’s spend some time investigating what the Bible says about having a love that forgives.
2. And then, let’s spend some time wrestling with what a love that forgives looks like.
I. What the Bible Says about Having a Love that Forgives.
A. Let’s begin with 1 Corinthians 13, the same passage we have pointed to with each of the characteristics of love.
1. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Love…keeps no record of wrongs.” (NIV)
2. Other translations render the verse: “keeps no record of being wronged” (NLT); and
“does not take into account being wronged” (NASB).
3. The Message renders it: “Love…doesn’t keep score of the sins of others.”
4. Literally, the Greek can be translated, “not reckon the bad.”
5. The original word “reckon” was an accountant’s term used for entering an item in a ledger so it would not be forgotten.
a. The goal for the accountant was to make a permanent record of a transaction that could be consulted at a future date if necessary.
b. What is helpful in the realm of accounting is harmful in the realm of relationships.
6. But how many of us are keeping a record of wrongs in our heads, or even on paper?
a. It’s hard to erase or tear up that list, isn’t it? But that’s what love requires.
b. Relationships are so damaged by the practice of constantly bringing up every wrong thing a person has ever done.
c. Who wants to have every wrong thing you have ever done brought up again and again?
d. And who can go on knowing that no matter how much you change or improve you will never be forgiven for the past?
7. How would it feel if God treated us that way?
8. True love does not keep tabs on the ways others have hurt us.
B. Let’s take note of the fact that God’s love is a forgiving love.
1. Because God loves us, He forgives us.
2. God never asks us to be something that He is not, nor do anything that He has not already done.
3. Psalm 103 is a favorite Psalm because of the way it reveals so clearly to us what our God is like. That Psalm includes these words, “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion…The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:2-4; 8-13)
a. Did you notice what the Psalm says about what God does about our sins?
b. God is compassionate and gracious and forgiving.