Waynedale United Methodist Church
Thursday, December 14, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

Jan. 18, 2015 Sermon

"Forgiveness and Your Future"
Matthew 18:21 - 35
Ted Jansen  January 18, 2015  Waynedale UMC
 

1.)        The tool today is a pencil and eraser.  We use a pencil to write things down when we build things.  We use the eraser when we want to get rid of the pencil markings.  We want to eliminate something, change something.  

            Can you erase what has happened to you in life?  Can you erase what you have done to others?  What happens when you post something on Facebook or send a text or e-mail that you wish you hadn’t shared?  It cannot be erased.  You can’t go back and say, oops, I shouldn’t have done that, I shouldn’t have said that. There will be a record in some form. 

            Forgiveness is the erasing of a mark, like erasing this black mark on the white board.  When you use the eraser the mark can go away.  There is no record of the mark.      

            Forgiveness is a gift that you can give to another and it is a gift you can receive.    

 

2.)        I have forgotten the name of an old lady who was a customer on my paper route when I was a twelve-year-old boy in Marinette, Wisconsin, back in 1954.  Yet it seems like just yesterday that she taught me a lesson in forgiveness that I hope to pass on.

            On a mindless Saturday afternoon, a friend and I were throwing rocks onto the roof of the old lady’s house from a secluded spot in her backyard.  The object of our play was to observe how the rocks changed to missiles as they rolled to the roof’s edge and shot out into the yard like comets falling from the sky.

            I found myself a perfectly smooth rock and sent it for a ride.  The stone was too smooth, however, so it slipped from my hand as I let it go and headed straight for a small window on the old lady’s back porch.  At the sound of fractured glass, we took off from the old lady’s yard faster than any of our missiles flew off her roof.

            I was too scared about getting caught that first night to be concerned about the old lady with the broken porch window.  However, a few days later, when I was sure that I hadn’t been discovered, I started to feel guilty for her misfortune.  She still greeted me with a smile when I gave her the paper, but I was no longer able to act comfortable. 

            I made up my mind that I would save my paper delivery money, and in three weeks I had the seven dollars that I calculated would cover the cost of her window.  I put the money in an envelope with a note explaining that I was sorry for breaking her window and hoped that the seven dollars would cover the cost for repairing it.

            I waited until it was dark, snuck up to the old lady’s house, and put the envelope of retribution through the letter slot in her door.  My soul felt redeemed, and I couldn’t wait for the freedom of, once again, looking straight into the old lady’s eyes.

            The next day, I handed the old lady her paper and was able to return the warm smile that I was receiving from her.  She thanked me for the paper and said, “Here, I have something for you.”  It was a bag of cookies.  I thanked her and proceeded to eat the cookies as I continued my route. 

            After several cookies, I felt an envelope and pulled it out.  When I opened the envelope, I was stunned.  Inside was the seven dollars and a note that said, “I’m proud of you.”  (Stories for a Faithful Heart, by Alice Gray, Lesson In Forgiveness by Jerry Harpt, page 150)

 

3.)        As we think of the power of forgiveness and our relationship with God what do we pray in the Lord’s Prayer?  “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”(Matthew 6:12)

            We use the term trespass, and the word, sin, can also be used.  Or we could pray, “forgive us for the way we have hurt you, God, as we forgive those who have hurt us.”

            Forgiveness is a path that needs to be taken in healthy relationships.

             

4.)        One day Peter asked Jesus about forgiveness and if there was a limit to how many times we had to forgive people.  Jesus spoke to Peter and told him a story. 

            Once upon a time there was a King who decided to call to account the debts that were outstanding.  There was one servant who owed a huge amount of money, ten thousand talents, which would be the equivalent of 200,000 years of wages.  (One talent was equal to 20 years of wages.  One website had calculated that at $8.00 an hour this would be over 7 billion dollars.)   But, because he could not pay it the King was going to have him thrown into prison, along with his wife and children.  The servant fell down and pleaded for mercy from the King.  The King chose to forgive him and he got up a free man.  He was loved, his debts were canceled and he was released from prison.  

The servant was so touched by the King's forgiveness that he forgave all his friends who owed him money.  No!  No!  No!  That was not the story that Jesus told. 

 

5.)        Jesus said in his story that the forgiven servant sought out a man who owed him a hundred denarii.  (One denarii was equal to one day of wages so this was the equivalent of 100 days of wages.  The website I previously referred to had calculated this to be under $12,000 dollars.)  The one who was forgiven of the great debt choked and harmed the other man and threatened him that if he did not pay right away he would have him thrown into prison.  His friend pleaded for mercy but because there was no money the servant showed him no mercy and had him thrown into prison.  This servant who had been forgiven did not forgive the smaller debt. 

The King found out and was mad!  He had the servant brought before him and asked if what had happened was true.  When the truth was confirmed the King, who forgave, became angry and had him thrown into prison until every last penny was paid. 

Jesus ended the story by saying, "This is how my heavenly father will treat you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."  (Matthew 18:35

  

6.)        Forgiveness is described in Matthew 18:27.  "The servant's master (the King) took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go."

            The King demonstrated love, canceled the debt, and released him from prison.  Let us apply this to our relationship with God and our relationship with each other. 

            *We need to demonstrate love to others as God demonstrated love to us in His son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus came to earth, died on a cross and is present with us showing love.  We begin with a heart of love for others.  If we cannot love the people who have hurt us we need to let God love us.           

             *We need to cancel the debt that others have against us.  This is the hurt and pain that has been caused to God because of our mistakes and selfishness and the mess ups of other people.  We need to hear the words from God, “I forgive you.”  We need to speak the words to others, “I forgive you.”       

            *We need to release others from our lives as God frees us from our past.  God can set us free from the things that imprison us.  We have to realize that we are imprisoned when we hold grudges, have bitter feelings against those that have hurt us, and make plans for vengeance.  When we do not forgive others our spirit is imprisoned.  We are set free when forgiveness is a decision we make to ask for and to offer.  "I forgive you" are words that can transform your life.    

             

7.)        Rev John Plummer of Bethany UMC in Purcellville Virginia, was moved by the Vietnam-era Pulitzer-Prize-winning photo of 9-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phuc, naked and horribly burned from a napalm attack. 

            You see in 1972 Plummer was responsible for setting up the air strike on the village, an air strike that he was assured on two occasions had no civilians.  When he saw the picture he wanted to tell Kim how sorry he was. 

            John Plummer became a Christian in 1990 and attended seminary to become a pastor.  In 1996 he learned that Kim was alive and living in Toronto.  Through a friend who knew Kim and the photographer, John Plummer, John found out the details of that day and of the long recovery process that took place in her life afterwards. 

            Plummer then learned that Kim was speaking at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and heard her say that if she ever met the pilot of the plane she would tell him that she forgives him.  Plummer was able to get word to Kim that the man she wanted to meet was there. 

            "She saw my grief, my pain, my sorrow," Plummer wrote in an article in the Virginia Advocate.  "She held out her arms to me and embraced me.  All I could say was, 'I'm sorry; I'm so sorry; I'm sorry; over and over again.  At the same time she was saying, 'It's all right; it's all right; I forgive; I forgive.'"

            Plummer learned that Kim raised as a Buddhist, became a Christian in 1982.  (Fresh Illustrations for Preaching, Ed. Edward Rowell, page 76)

 

8.)        We have been hurt by people in our lives.   Some of the hurt that was caused to us was intentional.  Some of it was unknown.  Some of it was minor.  Some of it was major. 

            We have hurt people in our lives.  Some of the hurt was intentional.  Some of it was unknown to us.  Some of it was minor.  Some of it was major.  

            If I would ask you to raise your hand if you are mad at someone right now, how many do you think would raise a hand? 

            I want you to draw three circles that represent us, another person and God.  I want you to draw a black mark in each circle.  The black mark represents the hurt.

            What does that black mark represent in your life?  What do you need to erase?  How long has that mark been there?  Is it time to pay attention to it today?     

 

9.)        If you don’t forgive or ask for forgiveness you will struggle with anger, bitterness, or depression.  You will feel a weight on your spirit.  Forgiveness is a choice we make.                 What if your best friend had a relationship with your husband that caused a divorce and then she married your husband?  Could you forgive? 

What if your mother and father always wanted a boy and when you were born as a girl they expressed disappointment.  They did not want you.  Could you forgive? 

What if your spouse lied to you about actions and behavior?  Could you forgive?   

            What if you had an abortion when younger?  Could you forgive yourself? 

 

10.)      The King offers forgiveness to his children who ask for mercy.  We owe billions of dollars, yet we are forgiven.  Let us forgive others, even those that have hurt us, those that owe us thousands.  Come before the Lord with confidence and say, "I am forgiven!"   Then hear the Lord who calls us to say, "I forgive you!"  

 

Invitation to Prayer  I invite you to come forward for prayer for help in your need for forgiveness.  I invite you to write down a name of a person who hurt you.  I invite you to name your hurt.  I invite you to name a person you need to forgive. 

 

Brian Jones, pastor and author, had a list of the Ten Best Books on Forgiveness on Amazon.  Here are the titles that he listed.  I have read the book by Philip Yancey.   

 

Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don't Deserve (Plus) by Lewis B. Smedes

 

Getting Rid of the Gorilla: Confessions on the Struggle to Forgive by Brian Jones

 

Second Guessing God: Hanging on When You Can’t See His Plan by Brian Jones

 

Forgiveness is a Choice: A Step-by-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope by Robert D. Enright

 

Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves: Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families by David A. Stoop

 

Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace by Miroslav Volf

 
The Art of Forgiving by Lewis B. Smedes
 
 
Total Forgiveness by R. T. Kendall
 

Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy by Donald B. Kraybill