Summary: Forgiveness, Reconciliation, Real Life Christianity
THE YEAR OF THE TOWEL – The Towel That Wipes Away Grudges
Matthew 18:15-22 (pg. 688) January 10, 2016
There’s the story of two men who appeared before a judge on charges of assault and disturbing the peace...
After the judge had listened to both sides and surmised that both men claimed to be church going “Christians” he said, “you know the Bible says you should have settle this matter out of court.”
And one of the two men who had a terrific shiner said to the judge “your honor, that’s exactly what we were trying to do when the cops showed up!”
Forgiveness is one of those things we talk a lot about in church and in our Sunday School classes and small groups but living it out in the real world gets a whole lot tougher!
When Jesus picked up the towel to wash His disciples’ feet...He humbled Himself...The Lord and Master put Himself in the place of a servant...and then very clearly said, “I did this as an example of how you should do the same.”
But His example of forgiveness...is an even harder towel to pick up than the one He picked up to wipe away the dirt from His disciples feet.
If you’ve ever had someone strike you on the cheek, either verbally or physically you know how hard it is to turn the other one.
When your child gets bullied in school and you call another parent to talk it out and instead of “I’m sorry this happened” you hear...“If your kid weren’t such a whimp he could take care of it himself.”
Or your co-worker throws you under the bus by telling him the order that wasn’t made was your fault...and it was his.
Or you hear someone has gossiped about your family...they talk about your child’s mistake, or your wife’s dress or your father’s drinking problem like it’s a funny joke.
Things get a lot dirtier don’t they? When things move from the sterile discussion in Sunday School to the real world pig pen.
[I had a friend in School that ended up owing the library about 5 dollars in late fees. He went to talk with Mrs. Lemon (yes that was her real name). He thought he could be forgiven the debt as a poor struggling college student. Uhhhh...nope! Even when he tried to explain he was getting ready for finals....no dice....He thought it was unfair...so he went to the bank...got 500 pennies...He put them in a big mason jar filled it with honey and took it to the library...Here’s your money!!! For the stupid late fee!]
I don’t know who originally said, “I don’t get mad, I get even.” But most of the time it’s our philosophy...not just for people in the world, but in the Church as well.
Maybe we don’t give someone a shiner, or put pennies in a jar of honey, but we quit speaking to them...make sure our comments about them are caustic and affirm to others how right it is we’re angry and hurt.
Instead of reconciliation we practice holding a grudge and avoidance...Instead of kneeling in humility to try and wipe the slate clean...we snap the towel at them like in a locker room.
There is no more raw or real subject than forgiveness, and each of us know:
I. IT’S HARD TO WIPE THE HEART CLEAN
Forgiveness is a matter of the heart....and it all has to do with anger.
Listen to Jesus’ words:
MATTHEW 5:21-24 (p. 678)
Jesus lets us know this has been talked about since Cain and Abel...people long ago have been told “Do not murder.”
Murder’s a horrible sin...Cain crossed a line when he invented it by getting angry...picking up a rock and killing his brother....a life ended. His brother’s blood cried out from the ground.
God’s Word says it all began with anger:
GENESIS 4:3-7 (p. 3)
I believe Cain’s offering wasn’t acceptable from the very beginning because his heart wasn’t right. Maybe he was a “one upper” that was in competition with his brother...but God always views the heart above the sacrifice...and God tells Cain...You can stop it...you can choose to do the right thing...it’s not too late...when did it cross the line...when his anger exploded into an action he couldn’t take back.
[I remember a young man I visited in Woodford County jail back in the mid 90’s. He’d shot and killed his stepmother with a 30.06 hunting rifle because they had an argument over a barbecue grill. When I went to see him they had him on suicide watch and severely medicated. It was useless for me to talk with him because he could barely keep his eyes open. They were afraid if he experienced the guilt for what he’d done he’d want to kill himself...I think they were right...they transferred him to Eddyville before I could see him again.]