transcripts from Radio Program
God Forgave Us, We Forgive Others
Good evening and welcome to Simple Faith, I am your humble and faith servant Cathy Merritt.
We continue our study tonight on Forgiveness. Last week we started with God loving us and our response to his loving us.
Before we get into the lesson – I want to share a story of someone very close to me – who could have been angry and unforgiving because of his circumstances. You see my husband had a promising career in the Air Force – he received a Presidential appointment from Richard Nixon. He knew President Nixon while in school and then worked as an intern – so he gave him the appointment.
Then he went to Colorado Springs for introduction to the school and physical. They told him something was wrong with his eyes. They couldn’t figure it out, but he wouldn’t be accepted as a pilot. So he had to make the decision to go back to Los Angeles and go to UCLA.
It took another year for his eye condition to be diagnosed He had Macular Degeneration, which was not common in young people. At that time as now they do not have a cure or away to correct the disease. He will just become progressively more blind.
It is the blindness that prevents you from seeing people’s faces and recognizing them, he can read a bit with his side vision – but other it could be a terrible existence. But you see, Don was not overcome by these events – he has tried to function as normally as possible. He even played football and baseball for 2 years in college, when an injury ended that. He had photographic memory as a child – maybe a gift from God to prepare him for his future.
So he has a great memory and can recall books and documents in his brain memory.
He went on to become a speech writer for President Regan, Both Bush Presidents. He holds two Masters 1)Communication 2) Divinity Doctorate in Theology. He had a successful business for many years in Business Management and Corporate organization and helping businesses incorporate in all 50 states.
Now he is serving God through his writings and preaching. He has been an example of forgiving God for all the bad things that happen to us. See that is part of becoming a Christian = knowing that bad things will happen – that becoming a Christian doesn’t things go away, but gives us strength to survive them and learn from them.
He made the choice to forgive God and himself for his blindness. He challenges all of us – because all of us have handicaps. We may feel we are inadequate, but God can use all of us where we are at.
So let’s dig in.
Instead of reading from Matthew 18:21-35 the story – often called the Parable of the Unmericiful Servant – then me tell the story by paraphrasing.
Tell the story of the Master forgiving his servant but in turn does not forgive another servant…
This passage is often called “The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant” because that servant who had received mercy (forgiveness) by the Master, refused to show mercy (forgiveness) to his fellow servant, and he experienced consequences as a result. This is one of the essential teachings of Jesus, along with the Golden Rule and loving your neighbor. The whole message of the parable is to teach His followers that since they have received God’s forgiveness for their sins, they should in turn forgive others.
Is there a familiar pattern here? Think of the love pattern we’ve seen in the first lessons: God loved us, we respond by loving Him. God loves others, and expects us to do the same out of our love for God. The forgiveness patter mirrors this: God forgave us, and He expects us to forgive others out of our love for Him.
So easy to comprehend, yet so tough to put into practice!
So many times in our lives we confront people who are so hard to love and so hard to get along with that even thinking about forgiving them is so hard. Funny thing – God sees all of us and many times we are hard to love and hard to get along with – but God chooses to love and forgive us too. So what an example for us to follow.
The commandments of Jesus
I heard a great story about a very young associate pastor who went around the church full of enthusiasm and “wisdom.” He seemed to have a knack for reciting the commands of Christ and then finding people who aren’t measuring up to them and rebuking. The senior pastor noticed this and gave his youthful subordinate a research assignment: Go through the gospels and list every command Jesus gave. Not teachings, not parables, but imperative tense commands only and have your report on my desk by 5 pm Friday. The young man thought this would be a piece of cake and set about making his list. After a day or two, he became discouraged; this wasn’t a piece of cake after all.
Jesus taught many things and gave us many principles to follow, but He gave very few imperative tense commands. The young associate pastor never quite completed the assignment, but he did learn his lesson, to the relief of those around him!
The commands that Jesus actually gave can summed up this way: Love God, love your neighbor as yourself, love your brothers and sisters, forgive your bothers and your sisters and make disciples. Of course, “make disciples” encompasses all of His commands and teachings in one act of love and mercy.
Jesus teaches us to be like Him and forgive others
Jesus’ earthly ministry was nothing if not an expression of love; for in all that He did and said He demonstrated God’s love for us in action. He took away pain and suffering, granted forgiveness of sins and taught the Truth of God’s Word. He provided us with our model for living life as He went along, a model that if we follow will be very pleasing in God’s sight. Time and again Jesus brought a message of mercy saying that the time for God to judge had not yet come. If we are truly His followers, His love, mercy and forgiveness will be our hallmarks, for in this, the people around us will see Christ through us.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15
To refuse to forgive others is to reject God’s grace
This is a tougher concept to grasp, for it comes down to a judgment call: At what point will our refusal to obey His commands become a rejection of our covenant relationship with God? We know that when we sin, God will forgive us when we acknowledge our sins. Yet if we deliberately keep on sinning in the same way year after year, and continue to refuse repentance when will God say that’s enough? Theologians have been arguing about this for centuries, so we aren’t likely to settle it here, but there is one thing that is very clear, and that is that if we receive God’s grace in forgiving our sins but we refuse to forgive those who have sinned against us, we are rejecting the very grace we have received ourselves. Here are a few of the verses on this subject, no doubt you can add more to this list.
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:25
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation Luke 11:4
2 Corinthians 2:7
Questions for Understanding
1. What is God showing us about His nature in these verses?
2. What is God showing us about the way He values every single human being in these passages?
3. What is God showing us about our own values and motivations in these passages?
4. What is God saying to you in this lesson and what will you do about it?
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In these verses, Paul tells us what our love for one another looks like in practice. Before we go too much further, we need to consider what this love really is, because it has nothing to do with our emotions or feelings, after all how can an emotion be commanded? The English language lacks the vocabulary to make distinctions between different kinds of love. For example, the love a person has for a spouse is of a different sort than the love they might have for a child, a sibling, their country or for pizza. Greek, the original language of the New Testament, on the other hand, has five different words that reflect five different kinds of love, and the one used in all of these verses is the word agape, which is a godly and totally selfless love that puts the other first in all things. It has nothing to do with feelings, but rather involves a conscious decision to put others first.
Notice Paul’s emphasis on “being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” This is what our love for others should be like. Going further, he says, “. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Can you see the concepts of selflessness and humility at work here? Our love for one another must be selfless in its nature, because it is the exact opposite of “selfish ambition” and “vain conceit”. Our love for one another needs to be like the love that Jesus showed for us; He is our role model. Paul went on to describe our new attitude in the rest of this passé: Read Philippians 2:5-11 now and note that after He humbled Himself and completed His mission on earth in perfect obedience to the Father, He was rewarded with glory and honor. After reading the passage, discuss as a group how His example relates to our everyday life.
Putting Others First
As you are no doubt aware, the passage above is one of many that teach us about putting others first, living selfless lives, humility and serving others in the New Testament epistles. Jesus also taught these things often, through direct statements, parables and preaching. Consider these passages that are sometimes misunderstood…
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Matthew 16:24-26
Here, Jesus is talking about this same issue. Setting aside our old ways of thinking and our old attitudes, we follow Him as Christians. From the point of view of the world around us, we haves “lost” our lives, for we have given up its ways to follow Jesus. Yet, we really haven’t lost much of anything, for we have gained so much more than the world can imagine in its place.
Let’s be honest, these verses are entirely counter-intuitive and counter cultural. They certainly do not describe the attitude of our culture, nor do they describe our natural human inclinations, but they do describe what love in action looks like, for they describe a person who is willing to be set free from the desire to be “important” and assertive as this world sees these things. Instead, they describe a person who is willing to humbly serve God by serving others without expecting anything in return. This is love in its purest form!
The Role of Pride and Self
I don’t need to tell any of you what the Bible says about pride and self; you already know. Instead, here’s a question to ponder:
If godly love can be seen through humility and selflessness, what is demonstrated by pride and selfishness?
If a person finds him or herself in a situation where they have a real struggle forgiving another person for something they have done, are they demonstrating godly love or could it be that pride or self may be involved?
Of course, it is certainly true that when others have sinned against us there can be many factors and variables in operation at the same, not to mention a variety of emotions. Injustice is never easy to swallow, nor is outright violence or loss. Yet when the emotions begin to subside and healing has begun to take place, there are many times when the only thing that stands between us and forgiving the other person is pride or self, and in some cases these are manifested by rage, resentment and/or a strong desire for retribution.
Theoretically speaking, how do these emotions reflect God’s teaching of love, humility and forgiveness?
The Golden Rule
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Chances are that you learned this as a child; even if you weren’t brought up in a Christian home. Since this is a lesson on forgiveness, let’s get right to the point, since we are already familiar with this verse.
If you did something that resulted in pain or harm or hurt to another person, would you want them to forgive you?
OK, nobody ever says “no” to that question! Let’s try another one:
Are you willing to be first and forgive others who hurt you in some way, even if they might not always forgive you?
Ah, now that one isn’t quite as easy. If you said “yes,” then have you already forgiven those who have wronged you in your life? Maybe we need to take a look at that one before you answer.
We know that God has forgiven us for our sins when we become Christians. There are literally hundreds of verses in the New Testament that tell us so, in fact they tell us that not only has God forgiven us, but that He has taken our sins away completely. It isn’t as though our “permanent record” shows that we have committed infractions, and that those infractions are “paid for”. God has taken the infractions away completely; our “record” is completely clean. Thus, God’s forgiveness means that there is no record of our sins any more, and that there is no penalty or repercussions either: We have been justified before God.
What great news!
Then God tells us that just as our sins have been forgiven, so also must we forgive others. When we forgive another person, that means that we no longer reserve the right to punish them; there are no repercussions from us. If the person has committed a crime, there might be legal ramifications, and if they are not followers of Christ, they may have an issue with God, but we have acknowledged that we have forgiven them and have moved on. That doesn’t mean that we have necessarily forgotten the incident, and it surely doesn’t mean that we will put ourselves or our families into harm’s way, but we will not seek to impose sanctions ourselves, and there will be no grudges. When we do this, we gain two wonderful advantages, first, we will grow closer in our relationship with Jesus Christ, and for our action is one of love and within His will for us. Second,
we will have lifted a terrible burden off of our own shoulders, since we won’t have the baggage of pain and emotional trauma to carry through life any more.
So, back to the question: Are you willing to be first and forgive others who hurt you in some way, even if they might not always forgive you?
God loves us, So we should Love God for his Forgiving our Sins, So too we should show God’s love to others and forgive them too.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is your host, Cathy Merritt signing out for tonight. Have a blessed week.