(click on caret to listen to the sermon)
Series: What Did He Say?
Today: Forgiven & Forgiving
Rev. Laura Brewster
We continue our series of sermons based on Jesus’ sermons which are recorded in the book of Matthew. Today’s focus is on Jesus’ fourth sermon which is found in Matthew 18. Key lessons in this sermon/discourse include: Jesus’ followers are to give up a quest for status and humble themselves. Jesus’ followers are not to create a stumbling block for weaker members of the community. Jesus’ followers should take temptation seriously. And, Jesus’ followers should go after members of the church who lose their way and wander away. Finally, Jesus addresses one more topic forgiving others. We can’t address all topics today, so we will shine a spotlight on forgiveness.
Scripture: Matthew 18:21-22
“Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Should I forgive as many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said, “Not just seven times, but rather as many as seventy-seven times.”
Forgiving Others Can Make a Big Difference In Life – It Can Bring Peace
Thordis Elva found peace through the process of forgiving the person who hurt her. Thordis says, “Deep down I realized that this was my way out of my suffering, because regardless of whether or not he deserved my forgiveness, I deserved peace.” It took her years to be able to grant forgiveness to the person who hurt her. Forgiveness began with a choice, and it then became a process.
Jesus Calls For Us To Forgive Because We Are Forgiven
Jesus must have known that we would be resistance to his teaching that we show grace and forgiveness to others because after he told us that we are to forgive “Not just seven times, but rather as many as seventy-seven times,” Jesus went on to elaborate on his teaching. Read Matthew 18:23-33. Through this parable, Jesus teaches that we are to forgive others because our God forgives us. We who are forgiven are in turn supposed to forgive others.
So, yes, we forgive because it is good for us. It can bring us peace. It can help us get unstuck in the past. It can restore our personal power instead of leaving us feeling like victims. But the most significant reason is that we have been forgiven, and those who are forgiven are to be forgiving.
It’s Not Easy!
Will it always be easy? No. Will the forgiveness we offer others always be gratefully accepted or even acknowledged? No. Will we prefer to hold grudges against people who hurt us. Yes. Still, Jesus insists we push ourselves to try to forgive. Like a personal trainer at a gym, Jesus pushes us to forgive time after time. Ultimately, it is what is right for us… body, mind and soul.