It’s a cloudy Sunday morning where I am, but I can see the sun trying to push through, just like I can see it trying to push through for those of you idling underneath the gloomy clouds of unforgiveness, which, shockingly, is not a word. Unforgive, unforgiven, and unforgiveness are all not considered words (don’t you see the squiggly red lines underneath them?). I must say that unforgiving and unforgivable are words, so why these and not the others? Well, according to the Bible, there is only one sin that will never receive forgiveness, not in this life, or the next. That sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. It is unforgivable, detestable. And God is unforgiving towards those who commit it. That’s only how I see those words being used, how they should be used. Now, let’s look at what the “non-existent” words actually mean: Resentment, bitterness, anger, animosity, spite, cynicism, indignation, malice, enmity, judgment, hatred. These are all very negative words. Do we as Christians want to be associated with them? I certainly don’t!
Let’s look at it from a different prospective. What is one thing that we all require in a relationship? That everything goes both ways, right? Love goes both ways. Communication goes both ways. Intimacy goes both ways. That is essentially the same thing in a relationship with God. How can we expect something from God, when we don’t even do the same for our brothers and sisters in Christ? In Matthew 25, Jesus tells his disciples that on the Day of Judgement, the Lord will separate the people, and the ones to his right will be blessed, but to the ones on his left, he will say, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.” And they will wonder, “When did we not do all these things for you?” (paraphrasing here). And he will say, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” It takes more than just believing in Jesus Christ to be a good Christian. One day, we will all be held accountable for our deeds, so will you be the one God turns away from because you held resentment and “unforgiveness” in your heart?
Throughout the New Testament, Jesus warns us of hypocrites. Well, I think the biggest hypocrites are those who desire forgiveness from God for their sins, but can’t find it in their hearts to forgive others. In Matthew 6:9-13. Jesus gives us The Lord’s Prayer, and part of that prayer asks the Lord to “forgive us of our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” In some versions of the Bible, that word sin is replaced with debt. I like this word much better because sin is a debt. How is that debt paid? Through death. In the Old Testament, an animal was sacrificed as payment for sins. In the New Testament, that sacrifice is Jesus. God in the flesh came to die on the cross so that we could be forgiven of our sins, and you mean to tell me that you can’t forgive little Billy from down the street who stole your two dollars ten years ago?? When Peter asks Jesus if he should forgive his brother (or brother in Christ) up to seven times, Jesus tells him, not seven, but seventy-seven times! Remember the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:21-35). He dropped to his knees and begged his master not to punish him, that he would pay back everything he owed. His master let him go, and what did he do? He went home and beat his fellow servant, demanding he pay back what he owed, which was microscopic compared to what he owed the king. When the king found out, he told the servant, “I cancelled all of your debts because you begged, You couldn’t show that same mercy to someone else?” (I’m paraphrasing here). So he tossed him to the jailers to be tortured until he paid. This is how our Heavenly Father will treat us unless we have forgiveness in our hearts. In fact, you should feel that torture now. Are you not drained when you hold that grudge? Are you not tired or hurt? Do you not feel a strain or tension building between you and your family and friends. Does that strain or tension not make you and everyone around you feel uncomfortable? For me, when I walked in “unforgiveness,” I physically felt pain. It wasn’t until I prayed and forgave those who hurt me that I felt that pain instantly go away.
What I’m trying to say is that Jesus wants us to be like little children—trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving—if we want to enter heaven. He said that “whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2-4).
That was my sermon for the day. Now let’s get to the spoken word poem for this Sunday Morning Word. Obviously, it’s about forgiveness.