Preaching forgiveness

I am thinking and praying about forgiveness this week.  The text providing the backdrop is one I have always struggled with…

Matthew 18:21-35

This is the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant.   It deals with God forgiving us such a large debt and us not being willing to forgive the debts/sins of people in our lives.

In the parable a king’s servant amasses a debt of 10,000 Talents (a debt that the servant could not even hope to repay even though he says he will).  The king threatens to sell him and his family into slavery but after some pleading for time, the king forgives the debt.

Wow!  That is grace!

Immediately after the immensely gracious act, the servant finds a buddy of his who owes him a few dollars.  When the buddy can’t repay, the servant throws him into prison until he can repay the debt.  The king then gets word of this ungracious act; becomes angry; restores the previously forgiven debt and hands the unmerciful servant over to the jailer to be tortured until he can repay (which he won’t be able to).

Jesus then ends this teaching with “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.

Ouch!

I can understand this response from God.  I mean, after all, who are we to think that people hurt us more than we hurt God.  Who are we to think that our debt to God is insignificant and not important.  True ~ if God forgives such a large debt that we have incurred through sin, then we ought to forgive one another.  But how does one preach such a message ~ without attempting to tip toe around God’s Word in an effort to avoid offending people.

The other interesting tid bit in all of this is that Sunday is the 10th anniversary of 9/11 (like you didn’t know that).  I didn’t choose this text but rather it is the one “assigned” in the lectionary.  Does preaching this message of forgiveness sound insensitive on the anniversary of such a tragic event?  What preaching points would you use?

Just throwing some thoughts and questions out there for consideration.

edh -|—

6 thoughts on “Preaching forgiveness

  1. You know your congregation better than any of us following your blog, and of course, you must follow where your heart and the Holy Spirit lead you. But quite honestly, I can’t think of a better time to preach on forgiveness than on the anniversary of 9/11. In my own humble opinion, our nation really, truly needs to forgive those who “bruised our heel” ten years ago and needs to repent of the fear that we have allowed to guide our lives since that event.

    The senior pastor at my church often says that we fall victim to the devil’s plans when we make the mistake of thinking that other people are our enemy. In reality, the *devil* is our enemy, and it is upon him alone that our anger should be focused. Those who harm us have been duped by the enemy, and when we become angry with each other, it is because we have allowed ourselves to be duped as well. That is true whether it is the brother or sister sitting next to us in the pew at church or a suicide bomber half the world away, because we are all God’s creation, and He loves each and every one of us…even when we break His heart through our mistakes and sins.

    Just my $0.02 🙂 and may God bless your preaching this coming Sunday, no matter what you decide to preach on.

    • Very nicely put, Mike. Thank you.

      It has been placed on my heart to definitely talk about forgiveness and not shy away from that. More than ever we need to hear about God’s grace. I also like what you said that we need to repent of the fear that we have allowed to “guide” our lives since that day. Psalm 46 says that God is our refuge and strength; an ever present help in trouble. We need to put our faith and trust in our ALMIGHTY God.

      Thank you for your thoughts.

    • Mike ~ I think it went well. I asked “does God’s grace extend to the terrorists from 9/11?” It was a tough question to ask but one that had to be asked. The cool thing was that when I asked the question I could see people nodding in agreement that the question is an important one. People understood that we can not put limits on God’s grace. I am glad I stuck to my guns.

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