Summary: In our continuing examination of the doctrine of Forgiveness, we learn of the benefits for us personally to Forgive the way God Forgives us.
“Total Forgiveness- Part 3”
Text: Luke 6:27-36
Grace, Mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. There was once a Pastor who arrived at his new Church and his first Sunday in the pulpit he delivered a powerful sermon that really hit home with the congregation. On the way out of church, many of the people thanked the Pastor for that sermon. The next Sunday, he preached ANOTHER powerful sermon. But a few people noticed that it was the exact same one from the week before! It seemed a little strange but nobody mentioned it. They just filed out and thanked the Pastor again. Well, this went on for several weeks!! The same sermon, over and over. Finally, one of the Elders got up the gumption and said to the Pastor, “You know, you’ve preached the same sermon for the past month. How many more times are planning on preaching it!?!?” And the minister responded, “I’ll quit preaching it, when you folks start living it!!”
Last week, after 2 sermons in a row about Forgiveness, one of my kids asked, “Dad, how many more times are you going to preach on this!?!?” Maybe some of you were wondering the same thing. I’m tempted to say, “I’ll quit preaching it, when you folks start living it!!” Instead, I’ll tell you what I told my family. There’s so much that we could learn here about Forgiveness that I could preach a month or more on this same topic. But I won’t. I think that this will be my last sermon on it... for a while at least. Hopefully the seeds of what we’ve been learning will continue to sprout and grow in your hearts and minds. If per chance there are still questions about Forgiveness after this sermon, I’m asking that you either write them down or ask me personally. That way, down the road, I can address those specific concerns. And trust me, if you have the question in your mind, somebody else is asking it too!!
So lets get down to business. Last time I left you with several questions to consider. Two of those were: “How can I Forgive someone who is dead or that I’ve lost track of??” And... “Am I supposed to Forgive someone who isn’t even sorry for their sin against me??” Actually, these two questions are directly related. Because you see, Totally Forgiving someone is NOT contingent on whether they seek to receive that Forgiveness. It’s something we’re supposed to do in our hearts... REGARDLESS of the other person’s attitude. Listen closely... even if they’re not sorry for what they’ve done, you can... and you SHOULD still Totally Forgive them. I know that sounds radical, but Friends, this is how God teaches us to Forgive... and it’s how He Forgives us!!
I bet you’re a little skeptical right about now. Well, let me prove it to you from God’s own Holy Word. I’d direct your attention to the Gospel Reading from last week, in Luke 15:11-24. Just to refresh your memory, this is the parable of the Prodigal Son. When that boy came to his senses (v.18), he decided to go home to his Father and say, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.” But look at what happens in verse 21!! Even before the boy can get those apologetic words out of his mouth... the Father runs up to him and embraces him! Folks, that’s a strong indication that Dad had ALREADY forgiven his wayward son before he could even say “I’m sorry.” God is the Father in that story, and us sinners are that wayward son. Okay... but that son in the parable was SORRY for the hurt and pain he had caused. What about the people who are NOT sorry or repentant?? Well, lets look at a short but very familiar Bible passage. It’s found in Luke 23:34. Many of you know this verse by heart. Jesus was dying on the Cross, and he looked down at the people who were mocking Him and who had crucified Him and who had rejected Him ... and He said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” For all we know, many of those people went to their graves without ever acknowledging their sins and without ever ASKING for Forgiveness. And yet Jesus prayed for their Forgiveness!! Follow me very closely here. When Jesus died on the Cross, He died for the sins of the WHOLE world. He died even for the sins of unrepentant sinners!! The problem is, they have refused and rejected that Forgiveness. But their lack of repentance didn’t stop Jesus from asking His Father to Forgive them!!