EXCEPT YOU FORGIVE
This sermon is about the issue of forgiveness for a joyful, overcoming and spiritual Christian living. There is nothing as powerful as forgiveness except love. Forgiveness is like the balm of Gilead if properly applied. In Genesis man disobeyed God and followed the devil’s lie, forsaking the word of the Lord. God sent man out of the Garden of Eden, after they died through sin, Genesis 2:15-17 and Genesis 3:22-24. Man died spiritually, did not go to the natural grave but became separated from God who in the cool of the day walked with Adam Genesis 3:8. Man offended and sinned against God, had no idea how to make peace with God. Without question God decided to find a way to make peace with man; this he started as soon as man sinned, Genesis 3:15.
God decided to come to earth and die on the cross to reconcile man to himself through Jesus Christ. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us, Romans 5:6-11. Forgiveness is both a favor and a blessing but involves a selfless sacrifice of giving. Remember St. John 3:16, for God so loved the world (that sinned against him and fraternized with the devil) that he gave his only begotten Son. There is GIVING in forgiveness. You give the best, God gave his Son. You have to give to him or her who has sinned against you. Forgive in your heart even before they ask, give them love; remember that while we were yet sinners God so loved the world that he gave. Pray for your enemies or those who sin against you.
Forgiveness is such a hard thing to do, but it can be so liberating and satisfying to the soul. What makes it difficult for most of us to do is we think of forgiveness as meaning that we should say all is forgotten and things will go back to what they were. This Biblical definition of forgiveness is very hard for most of us to swallow. How can you forget the unforgettable? How can you forgive the unforgivable? To enjoy the benefits of forgiveness, however, we needn’t go that far. All that’s really required is that we make the decision to move forward, to let go of the old hurts. We don’t have to condone what’s been done. What’s wrong is still wrong. We don’t have to invite the person back into our lives or even be friendly with them. What we do have to do is allow ourselves to release all the negative emotions associated with that person and learn to pray for them always. As long as we hold onto the pain, we are choosing to allow that person’s past actions to continue to hurt and control us. We can also choose to stop letting them hurt us by praying and forgiving them from the heart.
Forgiveness is a unique quality. It is a spiritual manifestation of the divine presence of God in a person’s life. It is godly and powerful to forgive. There is a saying that, “to err is human and to forgive is divine.” Forgiveness is divine. In Matthew 18:21-35 you can also see God’s form of forgiveness. Someone owed him ten thousand talents and could not pay back as and when due. He was supposed to be sold, so also his wife, children and all that he had, so the master could recover some of his money. This may look strange but in some parts of the world in the recent past that was possible or such family could go into slavery. The scenario is that the man, wife and children could have been sold to different buyers and to different countries and may never see again. In verse 26, the servant fell, and worshiped him, saying Lord, “have patience with me and I will pay thee all.” This servant had no means of paying any time soon; he was asking for mercy.
The Lord of that servant verse 27, was moved with COMPASSION (which thing many of us lack and cannot forgive or perform any miracles), and loosed him and his household and forgave him his debt. In one instance this servant could have sold with his family and in one second he was a free and forgiven man by the power of compassion and forgiveness. This same servant after receiving forgiveness regardless of the amount of debt or sin, slammed another fellow servant owing him 100 pennies to prison; despite this other fellow servant asking for mercy using the same words that touched the Lord’s heart. The Lord harkened to the words of the first servant and was moved with compassion; but the second servant received no compassion despite using the same words. Words do not produce forgiveness because forgiveness is a divine character or quality or attribute.
In verse 32-33, the Lord said, “I forgave thee all that debt, because thou besoughtest me,—and had pity on thee,” why not extend such to your fellow servant?
Forgiveness requires, PATIENCE, COMPASSION and PITY. Verse 35 reads, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts, FORGIVE not everyone his brother his trespasses. Matthew 6:9-15 is about how the Lord instructed us to pray, in verse 14-15 it reads, “for if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” We must follow the WORDS of the Lord in all things, including forgiveness.
It is often difficult to forgive when you have been hurt, but we can never be hurt like our Lord Jesus Christ was hurt, with all the false accusations, insults, beatings and finally crucifixion. The Lord did not say anything negative of all who did evil against him, but said in Luke 23:34, “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do.” This is the action of our Lord and role model and we must follow in his footsteps.
Again some may say this is the Lord and it is easy for him to forgive, but wait a minute what about Acts of Apostle 7:59-60 “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God—and he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, Lord, LAY NOT THIS SIN TO THEIR CHARGE.” This was forgiveness, despite been stoned to death. How many times have you been stoned or sinned against wrongfully and you are able to forgive as Stephen did?
Deuteronomy 32:35 and Romans 12:19, all point to the fact that vengeance belongs to the Lord. Un-forgiveness is sin and disobedience towards the word of God; the Lord made it clear that no matter what is done against you, vengeance belongs to the Lord. Also remember that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose, Romans 8:28.
- Be angry and sin not and let not the sun go down on you
- As much as lieth with you be at peace with all men
- Selfishness prevents us from forgiving others
- Pride prevents us from forgiving others
- Bitterness prevents us from forgiving others
- Hatred prevents us from forgiving others
- Resentment prevents us from forgiving others
- Self-righteousness also prevents us from forgiving others
Some people thrive on malice and grudge and grow un-forgiveness, forgetting that the scripture cannot be broken. If you cannot forgive you will not receive forgiveness no matter how spiritual you may be. Ask yourself what is making un-forgiveness grow in you; how long will you remain angry and bitter, towards those who have wronged or offended or hurt or sinned against you. Remember vengeance is mine saith the Lord.
“Lord there is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared,” Psalm 130:4.
by Douglas E. Amobi