This last weekend, a portion of our church family had the opportunity to go to the Wilds Christian Camp for a weekend church retreat. We had a great time together playing, hiking, and relaxing. (Check out some of the pictures on Facebook)
But the key part of the retreat was our time together in the Word.
Jim Newcomer took us through Matthew 18:21-35 and instructed us on the topic of forgiveness. If you weren’t able to join the group for the retreat you want to be sure to listen to the sermons. They can be downloaded from our church website.
In this series we learned about 5 stops to make on the journey to biblical forgiveness.
STOP 1: Admit Your Hesitancy (Matthew 18:21-22)
We are often hesitant to forgive for a number of reasons. It could be that we fear the person’s insincerity. It could be that we are afraid of getting hurt again. It might be that we have become comfortable with keeping the individual out of our life. Or, it may be an issue of having to own up to our own sin in the whole scenario. Whatever the fear is, it comes back to an issue of pride vs. humility. The truth to realize is that God’s grace always flows through humility (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5).
STOP 2: Remember Your Story (Matthew 18:23-27)
In this journey to forgiveness, it is key to remember your own story. Before God, we had an incalculable, unpayable, growing debt, and yet, God completely acquitted us through the work of Jesus! The fact is that every time you preach the gospel to yourself you prepare your heart to forgive others.
STOP 3: Guard Your Heart (Matthew 18:28-30)
As you make progress down this road, it is important to recognize the tendency of your heart is focus much on who wronged you and sometimes even create a skewed perspective on their offense. The key is to never get over the unpayable debt that was forgiven you.
STOP 4: Fear Your Lord (Matthew 18:31-35)
Because we are forgiven of all our debt, a new debt arises for us to forgive others. Yet, when we refuse to forgive, we must realize that we will face God’s people, we will receive God’s rebuke, and we must endure God’s discipline. Warren Wiersbe said this,
The world’s worst prison is the prison of an unforgiving heart. If we refuse to forgive others then we are only imprisoning ourselves, causing our own torment.
STOP 5: Forgive!
Forgiveness is never easy, and we desperately need God’s wisdom to get to this point. Sometimes it is an issue of choosing to let love cover. However, if we are going to enter into this transaction of forgiveness and restitution, we are making promises to the other person.
- I promise not to hold your sin against me in my heart.
- I promise not to spread this around to others.
- I promise to never bring this back up against you.
May God help us to be a church that reflects the glory of our merciful God as we show mercy on others (Luke 6:36)