Ever so often I am giving the opportunity to speak the Gospel at other venues than my own church (Marengo Wesleyan Church). Last night I was given the opportunity to speak at a service at Paoli Friends Meeting. The topic I was given to speak on was “Forgiveness” and it is a very heavy subject. Below is a quick overview of the message:
1) Colossians 2:13-15 – To understand what forgiveness looks at we must first see what God sees forgiveness as and what He forgives. Colossians 2:13-15 lays out in a very simple manner that we are guilty sinners and without Jesus we are doomed. However it states that he forgave “us all our trespasses”. He see here that its not that God picks and chooses who and what He forgives. Instead, regardless of the sin, he forgives. Not because He must, but because He loves.
2) Colossians 3:12-17 – Paul goes on in trying to explain to those that are new Christians what it looks like to be changed by Christ. He urges them to put on the new self. This new self, being changed by Jesus, beings to view forgiveness differently than before. Paul now urges them to “forgive each other; as the Lord has forgiven you”. This of course pointing back to chapter 2 where we see that God forgives all sins.
3) Galatians 5:16-18 – Paul however knows that forgiving those, even when we are Christians, that have wronged us is not an easy task. Its an easier said than done type of subject. We know we should but have a wrestle within ourselves to do what we know we should do. Paul tells the Galatians the same thing in chapter 5. Here Paul speaks of the pull between the flesh that whats selfish things and the Spirit that seeks the things of God. These two forces war within us on this topic as well as many others. Many times unfortunately we would rather stay in this fight than to just follow the Spirit. The tention, we think, is better than humbling ourselves and asking for forgiveness or giving forgiveness.
4) Matthew 5:23-24 – In case Paul’s words are not good enough for you or you would rather not listen to him let look to another source. Jesus Himself says the same thing in the Gospel of Matthew chapters 5 and 6. In chapter five Jesus speaks of anger and while it may seem of topic its not. When is the last time you where unforgiving to someone and it didn’t involve some type of anger, never! Anger is always involved in unforgivness. So when Jesus speaks of anger here He wants them to understand that it has more to do with than just their emotional state. In verse 23-24 He states that if you are anger with someone and have wronged them that you should stop worshipping, go find them and make it right. It is so important in Jesus’ mind that you be right with someone that you have wronged that you actually stop worshiping. Key point, unforgivness effects your ability to worship.
5) Matthew 6:9-15 – Here we see that Paul, when writing in Colossians, is only echoing what Jesus had already said. They are strong words but good words. Jesus states two things that hit hard. First He teaches us to pray that He forgives us like we forgive others. Secondly, He follows this up by saying that if we don’t forgive others then the Father won’t forgive us. These are hard words to hear, but should show us just how serious He is about forgiveness.
Final Word: For those that are followers of Jesus forgiveness isn’t an option. He never ask that we forgive as much as he commands it. This doesn’t just mean the small sins that have been done against us but the deep hurts as well. He forgave all our sins and says that we must do the same. This isn’t easy, but it is necessary. It becomes easier as our hearts and minds are changed to be more like His. So let us be reminded that we are forgiven much and should forgive much as well.