Preparing for Worship // June 11, 2017

Preparing for Worship // June 11, 2017

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True forgiveness is hard. Half-hearted forgiveness is easy; simply telling the person that you forgive them is easy. Forgiveness when you’re not truly hurt is easy. But true forgiveness, laying aside the other person’s wrong in an effort to restore a relationship that has been broken, is infinitely more difficult. True forgiveness means staring the wrong in the face and refusing to let it stand in the way of your relationship with the wrongdoer. True forgiveness means never using that offense as ammunition in future interaction. It involves the death of your pride, the death of your desires, and the death of yourself.

Scripture often uses the imagery of the removal of financial debt as a metaphor for forgiveness. We owe God a great debt because of our sins, and when others wrong us, they are placed in our debt (Matthew 6:12). The reason that this image is so fitting is that financial debts, like the consequences of our sins, cannot simply be ignored and wiped away. Someone has to bear it. If someone lends you money and you cannot pay it, it means that the lender herself has paid your debt. She has borne the cost of what you owed. In the same way, when we forgive, we choose to pay the debt that the other person owes because of their sin. Forgiveness hurts because rather than “making them pay” for what they did you are paying that price for them by not retaliating, not seeking revenge, and not trying to get even. In King’s Cross Tim Keller says, “So the debt of wrong doesn’t vanish: Either they pay or you pay. But here’s the irony. Only if you pay that price of forgiveness, only if you absorb the debt, is there any chance of righting the wrong.”

This can all sound very high and mighty. It makes us look really good when we forgive other people. “Look how great I am for taking their debt onto myself.” But before you start thinking that you might actually be able to come out in the positive on this ledger of forgiveness, remember that you owe a debt of sin greater than all the debts anyone will ever owe you. Because of the depth of your sin and rebellion against a perfect and infinite God, you owe an infinite debt. You and I deserve to spend the rest of eternity making amends for the wrongs we’ve committed. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, God offers each one of us forgiveness for the wrongs we’ve done. This means that we have every reason to forgive others just as we have been forgiven. Even more so, the incredible forgiveness that we have been shown means that we have no right to withhold forgiveness from others. If we insist that each person pay what they owe, we would only sink ourselves. So let the knowledge of the extent to which you have been forgiven lead you to forgive those who have harmed you.

THE WORD

Scripture: Matthew 18:1-35
Sermon: Living in the Freedom of Forgiveness

SONGS

Come Ye Sinners (Indelible Grace)
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Depth of Mercy (Red Mountain Music)
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O Come to the Altar (Elevation Worship)
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Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) (Chris Tomlin)
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Song of Preparation: At the Cross (Love Ran Red) (Chris Tomlin)
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Song of Response: Christ is Risen (Matt Maher)
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