Summary: Forgiveness is perhaps the biggest part of God’s love.
WHEN LOVE CONQUERS ALL
Text: Matthew 18:21-35
At the age of nineteen, I got into writing a lot of poetry. After my natural mother had passed away, my poems became an outlet for my grief. Years later, I went back and looked at some of those poems. I was amazed to see that I had grown. Still, I was also amazed to see how much more I must continue to grow. The more I get to know about God’s love for us, the more I realize that God wants us to grow into His likeness.
When I wrote many of those poems, I wrote with passion. There was one poem that I wrote that weighed the pros and cons of what it means to love. I remember writing that love can be painful as well as inspiring. When there has been a conflict, a death, a time of separation, a break up, a tragedy that does not make any logical sense---love is painful, because these things are painful in the way that our relationships with others are involved. When there has been reconciliation, thoughtfulness, peace, and everyone seems to be playing on the same team---love can be inspiring. But, the greatest love of all is when we know that we are loved by God. The depth of God’s love was revealed for us on the cross at Calvary when Jesus died for our sins and conquered them. He died for our sins that separated us from God and from each other.
Forgiveness is perhaps the biggest part of God’s love. Why? The answer is because God chose to love us even when we were His enemies (Romans 5:8-11). Imagine that! God chose to love even those who were and are His enemies. God’s love is like a bridge that makes reconciliation possible. If you take away the bridge, the separation remains. George Herbert said, “He who cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass.” (T. T. Crabtree. Ed. The Zondervan 2001 Pastor’s Annual. Howard S. Kalb. “Forgiveness.” Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2001, p. 306). The question that no one can escape answering is this: “How is your view from the bridge?”
NO ROOM FOR DOUBLE STANDARDS
One of our problems is that we like to choose who we will forgive and who it is that we will hold a grudge against. One thing is certain, if God held grudges, then none of us could stand (Psalm 130:3). When God forgives us, He casts our sins as far as the east is away from the west (Psalm 105:12-13). But, there is one requirement, we have to confess our sins to God (First John 1:9). Unless we repent of our sins, God cannot forgive us for those sins. Sin is what separates us from God and from each other. Therefore, we must confess and repent of our sins.
Jesus paid the price for our sins as well as the sins of those we call our enemies. Jesus paid the price for our sins in full (John 19:30) when he paid the price for our sins, He paid for all of them and not just some of them! The next time we think that we are better than our enemies, there is one thing that we need to remember as someone once said, “Jesus did not hang on the cross any longer for my sins than He did yours”. When we hear the truth of this statement, we have to ask ourselves this question: “How is my view from the bridge?”
FORGIVENESS BRINGS HEALING
One of our problems with forgiveness is that we sometimes slight its meaning. Forgiveness that has been bestowed upon one who is receptive to it means that he or she has a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). He or she has an authentic spirit of repentance wherein he or she is truly sorry and not sorry that he or she got caught. Jesus tells us to be merciful as God is merciful (Luke 6:36). So if God is merciful in forgiving us, then that means that we must also be merciful in forgiving others.
We will find that sometimes that there are people who have not been healed because they have not forgiven someone. A person who has not forgiven another could wind up being physically sick or sick in spirit and attitude or even both. There is the story of a young lady who had anaemia and the doctor who was working with her had tried to treat the illness for months without any success. Referrals were made to other doctors. Again, a blood sample was taken only this time, the results were different. The blood count had changed. Records were kept of every visit and every blood sample. Second guessing himself without finding an explanation to what was going on, he was puzzled that now the results of the latest blood sample were different. Procedure had been followed to the letter. The doctor was still trying to figure out if an error had been made somewhere. "He returned to the patient and asked her, "Has anything out of the ordinary happened in your life since your last visit?" "Yes, something happened," she replied. " I have suddenly been able to forgive someone against whom I bore a nasty grudge; and all at once I felt I could at last say, yes, to life!" "Her mental attitude was changed, and the very state of her blood was changed along with it. Her mind was cured and her body was well on the way to being cured". (William Barclay. The Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel Of Matthew. Volume 1. Revised Edition. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975, pp. 327-328, paraphrased and quoted). This story proves how sometimes we cannot be healed because of our lack of being able to forgive another as God has forgiven us.