Sermon-Forgiving Too

Friends I must preface this sermon today with this message…if it is the only thing you hear this morning the Holy Spirit will have blessed me and you beyond all our understanding…..forgiveness lest you think it is “forgive and everyone go on their merry way!” Forgiveness is serious and cannot be taken lightly. I need you to understand and I quote , Dr. Wil Gafney as she so eloquently put it, as we discussed the unacceptable behavior and action of Ray Rice in the abuse of his wife, that has been all over the news…. “Forgiveness does not mean lack of consequences. Repentance doesn’t mean changing one’s behavior. Saying I’m sorry is NOT repentance! Apologies are part of the cycle of domestic abuse, used to control and manipulate the victim into trusting and staying with the abuser. True repentance means breaking that cycle. An apology is not enough. Accepting the consequences of one’s actions without complaint is a small beginning.”

I stand before you this moment and say, the behavior exhibited by people that feel they can abuse others is not acceptable. WE CANNOT STAND IDLY BY, we cannot! One of every four women in this country have been abused at some point in their lives by someone close to them. Abused sexually, abused physically, abused mentally and even bullying yes young ones bullying is abuse and you do not have to take it….ever! Listen to me and hear me….IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE! Every person’s life is precious and we must not accept the diminishing of that life. You and I must act to protect it, we as Christians, as human beings cannot sit idly by. If we accept the “cheap” apology as a way to the means of forgiveness we cheapen life itself and all that goes with it. This last minute is going to make some of you uncomfortable, it may make you angry, perhaps even with me. That is ok! I also say at this moment in time if you are being abused or bullied in any way I challenge, I beg, I plead with and to you, please…. I need you to come to me and we can talk.   AMEN AND AMEN!


NRSV MATTHEW 18:21-35, “FORGIVENESS” WITHOUT GRACE and God’s Grace beyond imagining.

21 Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” 23“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents (NOTE if one shekel was $1 then 10k was $36 million so there was no chance of payment!) was brought to him; 25 and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26 So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii($4K); and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. 31 When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. 35 So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

And then John 3:14-17

14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.


Each vacation and trip to a lake or ocean, as we sit looking out over the glory of God’s creation we fantasize about winning the big lottery 30 40 100mm and figure out what we would do with all that money. Money that most of us would not make in a year, perhaps a lifetime. Imagine the reverse… owing that kind of money to someone! OUCH!

Peter half-heartedly lifts up, how many times must I forgive before I can take action against my brother? Was he being magnanimous again like last week? Who knows…but isn’t it a question we have or have asked?  In a sense Peter has not yet fully committed to this Loving Neighbor thing…oh yeah a little but not all the way. He wants to drip out forgiveness instead of letting it go all out!

   Jesus is telling us that we must choose to be in all the way or out. To forgive or not. To love of not. To be white hot or lukewarm in our faith. It is all about choice.

Jesus’ incarnation is all about the new life and the renewed relationship that God offers. God is not offering up judgment but Love. God’s love, God’s sending, God’s offering, God renewing our relationship with God. God wants to and offers to us the opportunity to change our hearts. To soften our hard hearts, to enliven our weary hearts and energize our tired hearts. This action, this offering is based solely on God’s intent not to condemn…listen…not to condemn us but to SAVE us. To save us from ourselves!

God wants you to have peace, hope, joy and love in your heart….in other words God really does want to have a relationship with you! He WANTS TO FORGIVE YOU NO MATTER WHAT! Out of God’s omnipotence and judgeship, the love of God gave us Jesus Christ.

God’s judgment arises out of love and is pronounced by our response, in faith, in belief of the gift given in Jesus Christ and who Jesus Christ is! He opens our eyes to see that Jesus is our savior and the light of the world. That he is the way, the only way and he is the truth, the only truth. WE are called to commit to keep our eye on the prize. Always focused, always committed to Loving and forgiving fully. Just like we want to be and are!

God links Jesus’ death with God’s love for the world. And that Love is given and open to the entire world. The gift we receive is eternal life because the gift he gave was the forgiveness of all of our sins. Not some, not the little ones, not the big ones, all of them. ALL of them, millions and zillions. God gives us the opportunity of forgiveness as God confronts every single one of us to decide, commit, to take the stand and believe or not. It is in this moment that God has us pronounce not his judgment but our own self-judgment.  Jesus came not to judge but so that we might be saved. WE ARE TO FORGIVE OTHERS LIKE GOD FORGIVES US! $36 mm times or an outrageously abundant amount! Our hearts must be like GOD’s!

God gives us everything…we chose to accept it or not, forgive or not, love or not, we are in it or not FOLKS…. We cannot try to forgive or love we must do it! Because all of our sins are forgiven as we forgive too!

God wants you come into his presence and like the slave asked the king, “Please forgive me… my short comings and all of my sins.” The good news is that you are forgiven…you asked and it is given. But God looks for a change of heart…one that forgives AND one in which the behavior changes. Asking for forgiveness requires a heart that accepts the consequences of our actions and repents from those actions. If the heart does not change, if the behavior is not rectified, if there is no repentance…God warns us of the consequences of our behavior.

Forgiving is not forgetting bad or hurtful behavior. It is not ever about condoning and accepting that behavior. The most powerful word you can say is NO! I forgive you for your action but I will not put myself in the position will not happen again you must repent, you must change your heart and your actions. You must turn your heart and actions to love. Forgiveness is not about the behavior. It is about loving that person fully. It is about a complete change in heart

God gave the only Son and all you need to do is believe in him and you receive the gift of eternal life. God always wants to be in a right relationship with you and God set those parameters forgive others as you would like to be forgiven and God assures us that our sins are forgiven because of what happened on the cross and rising again from that death.


I say again, as I adapt and paraphrase the Rev. Billy Graham,

(“Does the Holy Spirit Live in You?, Rev. Billy Graham, 4/30/2009. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)

It is God’s job to judge,

    the Holy Spirit’s to Convict,

       Jesus Christ’s to save, and

             our call, our mission, our passion to Love God and

neighbor fully and forgive completely.

God sent the son to die so that by faith we might live and take up our cross, not his but ours, and follow him. God’s grace was not cheap and his words not empty. For his... is a promise of eternal life and because of our faith he will lead the way.




  • New Interpreters Bible, Abington Press

  • NRSV Bible, Abington Press

  • Ancient Christian Commentaries, Inter Varsity

  • Book of Confessions, WJK

  • Feasting on the Word, WJK

  • “Does the Holy Spirit Live in You?, Rev. Billy Graham, 4/30/2009. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association


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