integrity test: forgiveness is work

I like to think of myself as a person who forgives easily.  However, I know that the roots of unforgiveness are easily nurtured by the fertile soil of hurt.  It is too easy to let a relationship and a memory sit sour for a day then weeks and months and years.  The result is bit like the lost Easter egg.  It may not stink for days and weeks, but there will come a day that it creates a stink.  You may not smell it anymore, but anyone who enters that room and the adjoining rooms will know that something is rotten!  Relationships will be soured by your unresolved or unforgiven hurt and pain.

Forgiveness is a work that is at the heart of the Gospel of Jesus and therefore the “family life” of any who follow Jesus.  

The notes that follow are from the Sunday message at Cityview.  The audio will be posted later in the week.


Text:  Luke 17:1-10

Big Idea:  Forgiveness is work.

Unpacking the Text:

Vs. 1-3  A warning regarding sin.

     1.  Temptation and situations that cause people to stumble and to sin
          are reality.

     2.  Being the source of stumbling or scandal,  or sin, is awful.
     3.  We must give careful attention to the impact of our lives.

Vs. 3-4  Instructions regarding how to deal with a person who sins against you.  Forgiveness always costs someone; it does not excuse, overlook or condone wrong doing.

     1.  If your brother sins against you, rebuke him.

     2.  If he repents, forgive him.

     3.  If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times
          comes back to you and says, “I repent,” forgive him.

     (other texts:  Matthew 5: 21-26, 6:12-15, 18:15-35)

 Vs.  5-6  The Disciples want increased faith in order to forgive with the generosity Jesus commands; Jesus wants them to have even a little bit of confidence in Him.  We want forgiveness to be about justice, but it is about healing.  It is not about reforming, but about releasing.

      If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this
      mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it will
      obey you.

 Vs. 7-10  Jesus treats forgiveness as “dutiful work” to be pursued no matter the Disciple’s feelings, but because of their relationship to Him.  This parable is also a warning against feeling that God owes us because we have now forgiven another person who hurt us.

“We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”

 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  Luke 23:34

I introduced the message on Sunday with a news piece on the Amish schoolhouse shooting October 2, 2006.  I remember watching with the rest of the world and being convicted and challenged by the grace of many in this community.


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