Summary: Our worship cannot be acceptable to God if our hearts are filled with bitterness toward our brethren, or to those not of our faith.
THE SPIRIT OF FORGIVENESS
BY A SHOW OF HANDS, WHO WOULD LIKE TO TELL ME WHAT EASTER IS REALLY ABOUT? HOW ABOUT FORGIVENESS?
Matt 6:9 15 (Scripture text)
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
We need to have the love of Christ, so that we may not succumb to an unforgiving spirit.
How often do we feel that we have been dealt with unjustly, that things have been said concerning us that were untrue, and that we have been set in a false light before others? When we are thus tried, we need to keep strict guard over our spirit and our words.
Don’t rehearse and nurse the hurts. That’s reliving the event again & again in your mind.
Illustration; A women who’s husband had died years earlier had stopped by her Pastors office one day. She had been crying inside for 2 long painful years. As she talked, she related everything that had happened up to the time of her husband’s death --- everything! She knew every detail. Finally she opened her purse and took out a sheet of paper and read to him the words of her Dr. He had explained to her the cause of her husband’s death. After she had read the note and after prayer and tears, the pastor said, "I want you to do something for me. I want you to tear up that piece of paper and throw it away. It’s time you stopped rehearsing and nursing your hurt!" Later on as she was leaving church one day she simply said to him "Thanks".
Let us not think that unless those who have injured us confess their wrongs, we are justified in withholding from them our forgiveness. We should not accumulate our grievances, holding them to our hearts until the one we think guilty has humbled his heart by repentance and confession. This is his part no doubt, and the thing he must do in order to clear his soul from sin he has committed. But with him we have nothing to do in this matter, and should only seek to stand before God in the way he would have us, that our prayers be not hindered. We are to have a spirit of pity, of compassion toward those who have trespassed against us, whether or not they confess their faults. If they fail to repent and make confession, their sins will stand registered in the books above to confront them in the day of judgment; but if they say, "I repent," then our duty is plain; we are freely to forgive from the heart their trespasses against us as we have the hope of forgiveness by our heavenly father.
This sermon this morning is possibly the most important of all of the sermons that I have ever given, because if you and I don’t get this forgiveness thing down, then we miss the gospel. Grace, the gospel, the very heart of God; they are all wrapped up in forgiveness. There is no greater text in all of Scripture that opens the heart of God, that opens the heart of forgiveness to you and me, than the one we are looking at today.
I would invite you to open your Bibles to Matthew’s gospel, the eighteenth chapter.
A parable told by Jesus concerning this matter goes like this, as recorded in Matt 18:23 34;
23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshiped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.