“IT’S TIME TO FORGIVE”                                   By Pastor YAU

Text: Luke 23:26-34                                                September 10, 2006.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   Something to remember: A Christian church in Jakarta, Indonesia, was having a revival. Before the opening session was to begin, the hosting pastor led the guest speaker to look around the church complex. It was impressive in its beauty. Then the pastor took his guest to the fellowship hall. At the front of the hall were a pulpit and a communion table. Behind the pulpit was a plain concrete wall on which hung a wooden cross. At the bottom of the cross were some words in the Indonesian language. When asked of the meaning, the pastor said it was a quote from the words of Christ, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they do.”

2)   The reason behind the words: When asked if it was for a particular reason, the pastor said, “Several years earlier there had been riots in the city and 21 churches were burned to the ground in one day including ours. This wall was the only thing of our former building remained standing.” The guest speaker later said, “That wall and the words under the cross formed a reminder of the compassion of Christ showed on the cross and that became the message of that church to their city: Revenge and bitterness will never heal wounds inflicted by rage and hatred in a lost world. But the compassion of Christ will just as it was some 2,000 years ago.”

 

WHY FORGIVE?

1)   That is what God did to us: One of the doctrines of Christian faith many find it hard to understand is “God always forgives.” Many people sub-divide sins to many categories: some are more serious than others. They think that if God is a God of justice, how can he forgive someone with horrendous sins or crimes at the last minutes of his life as Jesus did to that criminal on the cross? But that is exactly what God does the best: forgives sins no matter how many or how serious when men come to Him with sincere remorse and repentance. The best reference of this belief is from l John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purity us from all unrighteousness.”

2)   There is no other way: Just imagine if God doesn’t forgive the sins of men, what can a man do to remove his sins in order to reconcile with God? Can a man undo what he has done? Can he do good things good enough to “eradicate” his sins and the evil come with them? Or can he try hard to “pay back all debts and hurts” of his sins to save himself from the punishment of God? The way God chose to deal with the sins of man is the best way: to forgive. No man can “undo” what he has done. No man can do good enough to “balance out” the evil of his sins. No man can pay back the evils and hurts inflicted on God and others by his sin. If there were no forgiveness of sin, man will never be able to be saved.

3)   Because there is love: Forgiveness and love are inseparable. When there is love, there is forgiveness. Since God is love and the origin of love, God cannot keep counts of the sins of men to the point that He cannot forgive. “For God so loved the world,” as in John 3:16 lays down the groundwork of God’s unlimited capacity to forgive. Just as parents have unlimited love to forgive their children, God has more love for us that compels Him to forgive our sins. When love abounds, forgiveness never ceases.

4)   Because we were told to: Both in the teachings of Jesus and the Apostle Paul, Christians were told repeatedly to forgive each other as God has forgiven them. (Matt. 6:14-15; 18:35; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13) Both Jesus and Paul linked forgiving each other to being forgiven by God. If we desire to be forgiven by God which we all do, then we must forgive one another. This is a command, not an option. The basis of forgiving is not if the offender deserves but we need to obey the command of God.

 

FORGIVENESS IN THE BIBLE:

1)   God is a forgiving God: Through the whole Bible God is portrayed in many ways from the powerful Creator of the universe to the humble Savior of man hung on the cross. The whole reason of the Bible and the coming and death of Jesus convey one unique message: God is love and is ready to forgive the sins of man. From the disobedient first parents to the rebellious chosen people of Israel to the words uttered from the breath of the dying Savior, all were about forgiveness of sin. If you take away forgiveness of the sins of men, there is no gospel, no need for Jesus to die on the cross, no need to have churches, no need of witnessing, no need of the Bible and the list goes on and on. It is all because of God who forgives we are here today to share this good news.

2)   Jesus is a forgiving Savior: The last verse of today’s Scripture reading is a prayer offered by the dying Savior for the forgiveness of men. Even though Jesus died in the hands of vicious men, He asked Father God to forgive them because “they do not know what they do.” (23:34) The coming of the Lord Jesus and His death on the cross were all predestined by the Father for the forgiveness of the sins of all men. The first public introduction of the Lord Jesus by John the Baptist was about “The lamb of God who took away the sins of men.” (John 1:29) It is the blood of the Lamb of God we are forgiven of our sins.

3)   The gospel is a forgiving message: Although there are many aspects of the God in the Bible, the preeminent doctrine of the whole Christian faith is the love of God and His forgiveness of the sins of man and that is the center piece of the gospel message. It is for the forgiveness of sin that brought Jesus to the world and onto the cross. It is for the forgiveness of sin that men are call to confess and receive eternal life. It is the message of forgiveness of sin the Christian church was commanded to bring the gospel to the utter most part of the world. Without the forgiveness of sin there will be no gospel, no salvation, no hope and no eternal life.

4)   Christians are called to forgive: Through the most part of the New Testament, both in the teaching of Jesus and the letters of Paul, the theme of forgive one another occupies an important place. Being human, it is inevitable that we have sinned or offended each other and need forgiveness from one another. We all realize how difficult it is to forgive others that prompted Peter to ask the Lord how many times he should forgive his brother who has sinned against him. (Matt. 18:21) In his parable Jesus linked our forgiving others to being forgiven by God. (18:28-35)

 

REASONS TO FORGIVE: To be forgiven is easy but to forgive is hard. We all want to be forgiven but find it so hard to forgive others. Let us see some of the reasons that may help us to forgive.

1)    We all have sinned: This is the fundamental mental concept that may help us to forgive. If you recognize that we all are sinners, including yourself, then forgiving others is also forgiving yourself. No one is given the advantage to receive forgiveness from others without forgiving them. It is a fair deal to forgive others and receive forgiveness from them. To admit your need of forgiveness is the key in this concept.

2)    We have been forgiven: If you haven’t been forgiven by people, you at least have been forgiven by God. As soon as you confess your sins and ask God to forgive you, He will forgive and cleanse your sins as white as snow. (1 John 1:9) Extend that same mercy to your fellow men as you have received mercy from God. To forgive is grace depends not on if the other side deserves. To forgive is a virtue in respond to the call of God.

3)    We will be better off: One stumbling block to forgive is the false idea that you are letting the offender go without proper punishment. The fact is just the opposite. If you keep holding the anger, the grudges against the offender, you are holding yourself a prisoner of those anger and grudges, not them. Forgiving others is letting yourself go of the anger and pain inside of you. You will feel better, digest better, sleep better when you stop allow the offender and his fault bother you, causing you to feel miserable. You certainly will be better off when you forgive him/her.

4)    We are truly children of God: Jesus described the peacemakers as truly the children of God in Matt. 5:9 when He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.” Forgiving is peacemaking. It makes peace between you and your offender and peace between you and God. Jesus said these are the people God will bestow His blessings. What is more than be blessed by the Almighty God? If you feel that God hasn’t blessed you for a long time, may be it is because you have not forgiven your offenders.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Forgiving is not an option: It is a command from God that we need to forgive one another in order to receive His blessings. Holding anger and grudges against someone is against God’s command and is punishable by misery and loneliness.

2)   Take steps to forgive: Identify those who have offended you. Ask God to give you strength to forgive them from the bottom of your heart. Take steps to make peace with them so you will feel ease next time you think of them or see them. Bring out all the anger and lay them at the feet of Jesus and never take them back.

3)   Seek forgiveness from God: This is the ultimate step you need to take for your own good: be forgiven of your sins by repentance and acceptance of Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Never leave this world without the forgiveness of your sin and receiving eternal life from the Lord.