Summary: A Biblical look at the importance of forgiveness.
Relationships Are Everything
Forgiveness is Key
When Narvaez, the Spanish patriot, lay dying, his father-confessor asked him whether he had forgiven all his enemies. Narvaez looked astonished and said, “Father, I have no enemies. I have shot them all.”
If I were to ask you this morning the same question, I hope that you would not give the same answer as Narvaez. In fact, I would hope that you would be able to say that you have no enemies, hold no grudges against anyone, and you get along with everyone you come across. I doubt this is the case. After all, people let us down. People look out for themselves and trample others under their feet at times. And, people love to hold grudges.
While watching ESPN this week, I came across an interesting story. At a baseball game in Los Angeles over the weekend, twenty-three year old Mark Grugerson was arrested for trying to hit Barry Bonds in the head with a tube of Ben Gay. He threw it as hard as he could, and the object missed Bonds by a few feet. After the game, the man was asked why he did this by police. It turns out that he had approached Bonds as an 8 year old kid and asked the slugger for an autograph. Apparently, Bond refused to sign one for him. So, for the last 15 years, the man held on to this grudge and sought to get even by inflicting pain on the one who had hurt his feelings so many years ago.
Two weeks ago, we began talking about the fact that relationships are everything. We went on describe our relationship with God and how we were created to be in constant fellowship with God and fall in love with Him. After all, the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Today, we begin to look at the second greatest commandment as listed in Mark 12:31. Let’s take a look at it.
The second one is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.
In order to love our neighbor as ourselves, we have to turn a key corner. We cannot begin to love others until we begin to show forgiveness to those who have wronged us. We cannot begin to love God without forgiving others. This morning, we are going to take a look at what the Bible has to say about this topic. Let’s look to the Lord in prayer.
Forgiveness Becomes Possible When We Treat Others Like Ourselves
I recently came across a reading entitled, “Why Your Problem is My Situation.” It goes something like this:
When you get angry, it’s because you are ill-tempered…it just so happens that my nerves are bothering me.
When you don’t like someone it’s because you are prejudice…I just happen to be a good judge of character.
When you compliment people, it’s because you use flattery to get ahead…I only encourage people.
When you take a long time to do a job, it’s because you are unbearably slow and pokey…I take a long time because I believe in quality workmanship.
When you spend your paycheck in 24 hours, it’s because you’re a spendthrift…When I do, it’s because I am generous.
When you stay in bed until 11AM, it’s because you are a lazy good-for-nothing…When I stay in bed a little longer, it’s because I am totally exhausted.
Did you ever notice how we sometimes hold other people to higher standards than we hold ourselves to? After all, we have issues and problems in our lives while everyone else has smooth sailing in their lives. If we think about this even for just a few seconds, we can begin to see how faulty and non-Biblical this kind of thinking is. In fourth grade, I can remember something we did every morning. We got together and said two things. We recited the Pledge of Allegiance and we recited the Golden Rule. Do you remember it? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Many people still try and live by this rule, but too many times we are quick to point to how others treat us and not how we are actually treating them.
I love how Jesus puts this in Matthew 7. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you treat others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Folks, this message is very straight forward. If you hold others to high standards, God is going to hold you for high standards. And, we all have our problems and things we need forgiven for. So, before we point to the specks in the eyes of others, we have some work to do on ourselves.