THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS

Sermon August 20, 2017 PastorBryan

AUDIO CLIP – The Power of Forgiveness, PastorBryan


The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

Matthew 18: 26-34

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

 28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

A Closer Look at The Forgiven Slave

Have you ever wondered why the slave who the King forgave was so harsh with the man who owed him money? Maybe as he left the kings court and saw the man who owed him money he was still nervous or shaken from his meeting with the king. Maybe he had been trying to get the man to pay him for a long time and now believed this man was partially to blame for the mess he was in with the king. Possibly he believed the man had been lying and avoiding him in the past and now that he saw him after that close call with the King he had enough.

There are a lot of reasons this slave could have acted the way he did. From first glance the man seemed irrational and unthankful for the mercy he was given. However, if we look a bit closer we’ll see an emotional response, “he grabbed him and began to choke him”. It looks a lot like fear or frustration. Both of these emotions can escalate a person’s behavior and prevent them from thinking straight.

In Isaiah 1:17-18 God speaks to the rulers and people of Sodom and Gomorrah who were offering worthless sacrifices to the Lord, trying to cover their sins. They were seeking forgiveness, but not wanting to give up their sin. God told them; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool”.

God didn’t want to bring his wrath down on them, in fact in Isaiah 43:25-26 God says; 25 I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. 26 Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.

Here God tells us it is for his benefit that he forgives us (for my own sake).

Is there someone who you’ve been withholding forgiveness?

What stands in the way of forgiveness?

  •  Hurts?
  • Pains?
  • Frustration?

Often time we want justice or simply want the person to take it back. We believe we have to return to normal feelings before we can offer forgiveness. Or maybe the hurt is too much and we can’t conceive how to forgive.

There are some misconceptions about forgiveness that makes it difficult for us to forgive. Let me share two of those false beliefs.

     1. Forgiveness isn’t an emotion. Forgiveness is a choice.

We don’t have to be over our hurt feelings to offer forgiveness; we just have to make the choice to do so. Granted we may have to make that choice every day until it really releases us from its grasp.

     2. We often confuse weakness with wickedness.

The majority of the time when people hurt us it is due to their weakness, not because they are wicked and were purposefully out to get us. That person who betrayed you was weak. That person who cheated on you was weak. The person who lied to you or about you was weak. It was out of their weakness that they failed you.

The Example of Forgiveness

When Jesus was on the cross, bleeding, in pain, rejected, beaten, betrayed and alone He said; “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do, as they parted his raiment, and cast lots (Like 23:34). The soldiers didn’t ask for forgiveness, they probably didn’t think they did anything wrong. However, Jesus offers up a prayer of forgiveness.

 

The Bible drives home forgiveness and mercy over and over.

  • Matthew 9:13 Jesus said; I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Jesus wants us to show people mercy, not offer up worthless sacrifices.
  • Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus says; 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there remember that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Again, Jesus is putting our relationship with people above sacrifices or offerings to him.
  • Matthew 5:7 says, blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.

We don’t give mercy to the just, but to the unjust. We give mercy to those who have wronged us. Mercy is unmerited and undeserved. We give forgiveness because God commands it and he commands it because he knows there is power in forgiveness. Healing is found in the one place we so desperately want to stay away from and that’s forgiveness. It is a choice, not a feeling and it begins with your desire to want to stop hurting, stop grieving, stop hating, stop the sadness. You don’t have to know how to do it, you just acknowledge to Him that you choose to forgive and start today and continue every day until its gone.

Joseph was thrown into a pit by his brothers and sold into slavery. Pottifer’s wife lied on him and he was thrown into prison. He helped some men in prison and they betrayed him. Joseph had every reason to hold a grudge especially towards his brothers but he showed mercy and forgave them and he died one of the most powerful men in the land. Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.

Forgiveness isn’t Easy

Corrie Ten Boom and her family resisted the Nazis by hiding Jews in their home. They were ultimately discovered and sent to a concentration camp. Corrie barely survived until the end of the war; her family members died in captivity. Seared by this terrible trial by fire, Corrie’s faith in God also survived, and she spent much of her time in the post-war years traveling in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, sharing her faith in Christ.

On one occasion in 1947, while speaking in a church in Munich, she noticed a balding man in a gray overcoat near the rear of the basement room. She had been speaking on the subject of God’s forgiveness, but her heart froze within her when she recognized the man. She could picture him as she had seen him so many times before, in his blue Nazi uniform with the visored cap—the cruelest of the guards at the Ravensbruck Camp where Corrie had suffered the most horrible indignities, and where her own sister had died. Yet here he was, at the end of her talk, coming up the aisle toward her with his hand thrust out. “Thank you for your fine message,” he said. “How wonderful it is to know that all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!”

Yes, Corrie had said that. She had spoken so easily of God’s forgiveness, but here was a man whom she despised and condemned with every fiber of her being. She couldn’t take his hand! She couldn’t extend forgiveness to this Nazi oppressor! She realized that this man didn’t remember her—how could he remember one prisoner among thousands?

“You mentioned Ravensbruck,” the man continued, his hand still extended. “I was a guard there. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true. But since then, I’ve come to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. It has been hard for me to forgive myself for all the cruel things I did but I know that God has forgiven me. And please, if you would, I would like to hear from your lips too that God has forgiven me.” And Corrie recorded her response in her book:

I stood there—I whose sins had again and again been forgiven—and could not forgive. It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do. For I had to do it. I knew that. It was as simple and as horrible as that. And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. And so, woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me.

And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, and sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. “I forgive you, brother,” I cried. “With all my heart!”

For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.

Forgive Today

It’s time to forgive and let this go. Whatever wrong has been done to you, let it go. Remember, forgiveness isn’t an emotion it’s a choice. Make the choice to forgive today. It doesn’t make you weak and it doesn’t say that the person was right, it just says that your tired of hurting and allowing it to have control over you. Tell God today, right now, that you want to forgive and to help you to do so. Do the same thing tomorrow and every day until it no longer has a hold on you.

There is power in forgiveness and that power is yours to share in right now.

~Amen


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