Forgiveness Mt 6:9-15 WBC 16/2/3pm (not preached, as others shared so much great stuff we ran out of time)
It was five days before Christmas when a stranger approached ten-year-old Christopher Carrier, claiming to be a friend of his father. "I want to buy him a gift, and I need your help," said the stranger. Eager to do something good for his dad, Chris climbed aboard a motor home parked up the street.
The driver took Chris to a remote field, claiming to be lost, and asked Chris to look at a map. Suddenly Chris felt a sharp pain in his back. The stranger had stabbed him with an ice pick. The man drove the wounded boy down a dirt road, shot him in the left temple, and left him for dead in the alligator-infested Florida Everglades.
Chris lay lifeless for six days until a driver found him. Chris miraculously survived his injuries, though he was blind in his left eye. Because he was unable to identify his attacker, police could not make an arrest. For a long time young Chris remained frightened, despite police protection. Finally at an invitation given after a church hayride, Chris trusted Jesus Christ as his Saviour. He recalls, "I was overwhelmed with emotion…because I knew I had never really accepted and personally met the Saviour." This turning point in Chris’s life came three years after the attack. At age 15, Chris shared his story for the first time. He eventually decided to pursue full-time ministry, helping others find the peace he had discovered in Christ.
In 1996 a detective told Chris over the phone that a man had confessed to the crime that had cost him his left eye. The man’s name was David McAllister. Chris made plans to visit the feeble and now blind man, living in a nursing home. The strong young man Chris remembered was now a broken, humbled 77-year-old.
Chris learned from the detective some of the background of what had happened years ago. McAllister had been hired by Chris’s father to work as a nurse for an ailing uncle. Chris’s dad had caught McAllister drinking on the job and had fired him. The senseless attack on Chris had been motivated by revenge.
As Chris now talked to the old man, at first McAllister denied knowing anything about the kidnapping. As Chris revealed more about himself, the old man softened and eventually apologized. Chris said, “I told him, ‘What you meant for evil, God has turned into a wonderful blessing.’” Chris told his attacker how God had allowed his wounds to become open doors to share the good news of Christ.
Chris went home and told his wife and kids about meeting the man who had tried to kill him. The entire family began almost daily visits to McAllister’s nursing home. During one Sunday afternoon visit, Chris popped the most important question he had yet asked McAllister: "Do you want to know the Lord?" McAllister said yes. Both men basked in forgiveness as McAllister gave his heart to Christ. A few days later McAllister died—peacefully—in his sleep.
Carrier says it is not a story of regret, but of redemption. “I saw the Lord give that man back his life, and so much more,” Chris said. “I can’t wait to see him again someday—in heaven.”
From a sermon by Paul Decker on Matthew 6:5-15THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION ARE OPEN, www.sermoncentral.com
There’s only one bit in ‘the Lord’s prayer’ that is repeated
- the lines fall into ‘doublets’
- = Hebrew parallelism (ie latter half of each bit illuminates the first
o your kingdom come …. Your will be done
But there’s only one bit that is completely repeated.
- in fact- it’s almost like a bracket closing off the WHOLE of the Lord’s prayer
o so it may not just emphasise one verse- rather emphasise the whole of the Lord’s prayer
It’s v12: as we forgive those that sin against us AND
- v14- For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins
Gosh! This is so hard for me to speak about,
- because I really don’t have that much to forgive
o fiancée unfaithful0- but soon got over and forgave
But maybe that’s good!
- I’m speaking from God’s authority, not my own
- Little is the same as large in God’s eyes… and can have far-reaching effect
C. Roy Angell once gave a somewhat whimsical example of this hard truth. He told about a farm boy who was angry at a neighbouring farmer who had hurt his feelings. The boy tried to think of some way he could get even. The plan he arrived upon was this: Early one morning he rode twenty miles on horseback to purchase a bag of seed--Johnson grass seed. After dark he sowed his neighbour’s riches t bottom land with Johnson grass. As you may know, Johnson grass has traditionally been a pest, and it is nearly indestructible. So the Johnson grass came up, and the neighbouring farmer fought Johnson grass until the day he died. The young man had his revenge. In the meantime, however, the young fellow grew up and fell in love with the farmer’s daughter. They were married, and when the farmer died he left the farm to his daughter. The young fellow who went to such great trouble! e to hurt his neighbour years before spent the rest of his life fighting Johnson grass too.
1) Because God has forgiven US
- you can ONLY really forgive when you have known God’s forgiveness!
o Symbolised here, tonight!
o Oils the hinges for the door of forgiveness!!!
- So- HE takes the first step
o = why it comes here after “forgive us our sins”
- = the whole point of the ‘unmerciful servant’ Mt 18
- the initial person owed a million pounds!
o Who he had to ‘forgive’- a few pence
2) Because of the alternative
= the suggestion, here, that unforgiveness will mess up the dynamic of your whole life… prayer life… spirit… soul
o very being!
Mt 11:25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. "
mt34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
- ’The only thing harder than forgiveness is the alternative.’
- Forgiveness doesn’t have to make sense, but, oh, does it make a difference. -- Stanley, Gary, "What My Dog Has Taught Me About Life," p. 85.
3) Because God wants us to
In the end there are a few things we must do because God wants us to do them
- God is understanding of our pains, scars
o But He wants us to move into maturity and forgiveness
How do I forgive?
Now- HOW on earth do I do it?
What if they are unrepentant?
Well- all I can say to that is Jesus gave us an example: ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing’
- they didn’t repent
- he had an understanding of the things that made them do it
We are NEVER justifying the kind of wicked things we ALL have done at one time or another… or have been done to us
- but understanding WHY people do things is a big step towards forgiving them
o they’re broken, have been broken, too
I’m not talking sentimentality, here. I’m talking conscious, mature awareness.
How do you do it?
In time. By God’s grace. Step by step. Repeatedly. Consciously.
You may never forget. It may not be right to
- but the memories will, in time, by your forgiveness and God’s power in you LOSE THEIR POWER OVER YOU
o getting to the point where you can start this may take time.
There will be time when God’s Spirit will help you
- go with it! Not sentimentality… but His Spirit
- words have great power
o cf Anglo-Catholic power of ‘absolution’
‘confess your sins to one another’
- imagine you are talking to them and tell them you forgive them (may be ABLE to face to face, one day!)
o all of heaven will hear your words
o so will the darkness- and it will be driven back a bit!
- Name the things you forgive them for. Speak it out
And be aware you may have to do it repeatedly. Forgiveness is a step- but it’s also a PROCESS
- come back and do it the next day. Week. Year
- but you are consciously forgiving them
“Let it drop”
- imagine what you’re holding- and let it drop/go to God
It was a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing centre at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there - the room full of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.
He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. "How grateful I am for your message Fraulein" he said. "To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!"
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people of Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand to my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ has died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed forgive me and help me to forgive him.
I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
And so I discovered that it is not forgiveness any more than goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.
By Corrie Ten Boom, from ’the hiding place’ P220