Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Forgiveness Series Part 1: Do I really need to forgive?
Today we start a new series that I hope will bring healing not only to my soul, but to some of yours as well. It is on the struggle of forgiveness. Have you ever been wronged? Have you felt like you weren’t given the proper chance or opportunity due to something that was outright unfair? Have you ever hurt someone, not purposely, but that person is still hurting and you’re not sure how to ask for forgiveness or even if you should? Then this series is for you.
Lord, let us learn about forgiveness. That forgiveness is something you desire amongst us. That through forgiveness, hearts are lifted, lives are changed, people are healed. Amen.
My father-in-law is not the most religious person. Truthfully, he has set foot in church only one time since I’ve met him and that was the day I took his daughter as my bride. The night before our wedding, he gave me a good bit of advice, but one word I’ve heard many times before. Whatever you do, don’t go to bed angry. Talk through what’s troubling you. Whether it be something serious or silly and trivial, take care to be at peace when you go to sleep.
I’d like to be able to say that his precious daughter and I have gone to sleep peacefully each night of our almost seven years of marriage, but I think we all know that it’s very hard to be perfect in a marriage or in any part of our lives. However, I’d like to take a look at two areas of time that God tells us not to be unforgiving.
The first occasion is what I talked about with my father-in-law. Don’t go to bed upset. Ephesians 4:26 tells us, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Do you ever get angry? Sure, you do. But something very important is said here. It tells us not to sin in our anger. It doesn’t say we can’t or won’t get angry, but that while we are angry not to sin. It follows that with something equally important. Don’t let the sun set while you are still angry. That means, get angry, that’s OK. But don’t hang on to it. Let it go.
That’s where a lot of us fail. Sometimes anger is like that precious possession. You know what you like. For me, it would be a Reese’s Cup. I get one of those and go, it’s mine, all mine, just like the old Daffy Duck cartoons. We hang on to it and never want to get rid of it. But you know what happens if I hold on to that Reese’s Cup. I get chocolate all over my hands and whatever other body parts or clothing or anything else I touch. That’s how anger is if we hold on to it. It tends to cover everything in our lives. That’s why we need to get rid of it.
The second occasion I want to talk about is time at the altar and time of communion. I’ve heard it tossed around about how if we have issues with our brothers (or sisters) in Christ that we should never take communion. While the Bible doesn’t say these words exactly, let me explain why it is important to repair issues with our brothers before we take communion.
Right after the beatitudes in Matthew 5, Jesus talks about judgment. In verse 22, he tells us that if we are angry with our brother, we will be subject to judgment. He takes the next step with his words in verse 24, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” In communion, we are sharing as the body and the offering is you.
In 1 Corinthians 11:17-26, Paul shares conduct at the communion table. He continues in verse 27 about coming to the table unworthily. I’ll begin there as well with verses 27 and 28. “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.” Again, we are told to examine ourselves. If having differences with our brother in Jesus’ life were the stuff of hell, do you really think it would be different here?
Paul confirms what happens if we drink unworthily in verses 29 and 30. “For anyone who drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.” Paul even tells us that part of that judgment is sickness and death, not just a refreshing nap.
Paul thinks of everything though. In verses 33 and 34, he thinks of the dear fat guys and gals among us. “So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.” That’s right, honey. Feed me before we go to church. See, I’ve already got to ask for forgiveness for telling you about my Sunday mornings.
See folks, that’s the seriousness of not being forgiving. We can bring judgment upon us. We can lose nights of sleep and as we do that, we work on hurting out health and if we’re not careful can bring death. That’s why this series is necessary and relevant to all of us. We’ll continue talking about forgiveness on Thursday as we talk about forgiving others.
I love you guys!