Saturday, October 07, 2006

September 24, 2006--Faults and Forgiveness

Actual sermon may have varied, post taken from loose outline notes of pastor.

Text: Matthew 6:12; Luke 6:41-2

When we see how our plans derail on the characters of people we have to deal with we are "in one way" seeing what it must be like for God. But only in one way. There are two respects in which God's view must be very different from ours. In the first place, He sees (like you) how all the poeple in your home or your job are in various degrees awkward or difficult; but whne He looks into that home or office He sees one more person of the same kind--the one you never do see. Of coruse, I am talking about yourself. That is the next great step in wisdom--to realize that you also are just athat sort of person. You also have a fatal flaw in your charater. All the hopes and plans of others have again and again derailed on your character just as your hopes and plans have derrailed on theirs.

Of course, we routinely pass over this with some vague admission of "I know I have my faults." Taht is no good, however. It is important to realize that there is some really fatal flaw in you: something which gives the others that same feeling of despair which their flaws give you. And it is almost certainly something yo udon't know about, which everyone notices except hte person who has it. Or it can be something you don't think is that big a deal, but others can see how big it is. Even the faults you know you don't know fully. You say, " I admit I lost my temper last night", but others know that you're always doing it. It takes more than a general admission to admit your faults.

I suggest we abstain from thinking about others faults unless it is part of our duties like a teacher or a parent makes it necessary to think about them. Whenever the thoughts come unnecessarily into one's mind, shove them away. With what? Why, push out their faults with thoughts of your own faults. For there, with God's help, we can do soemthing. When all we do is focus on others faults, we are still powerless. That person has to make the decision to change. Only God can help with that. All our words mean little. However, when we focus on ourselves and fixing that plank in our eyes, it is practical. Of all the weird and awkward people we know, there is only one whom you can improve very much--YOU. And we had better, the job has to be done someday, and every day we put it off, it will make it harder to begin. Besides, when others see us doing soemthing about our faults and problems, God uses it to inspire them. Who knows how self improvement can become world improvement?

Which leads us into forgiveing others. Firstly, forgiving does not mean excusing. Many seem to think it does, especially the language we use when someone asks forgiveness or says I'm sorry. WE say, that's ok. But it is not. What they did is not OK, it was bad. WE need to just say, I forgive you. However, those words are very hard to say. Maybe because we want to hold things over thier head. By saying we forgive, it is acknowledging something bad happened and that we forgive them for it, that we are not holding it against them in terms of not being friends or whatever. However, forgivemness does not mean putting blinders on. If someone broke a promise and your forgive them, that does not follow that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does folow that you must take every effort to kill every trace of resentment in your heart.

In our own cases, we accept excuses too easily. See, this is why I did it....blah blah blah. In others, we do not accept excuses easily enough. However, think about God. He excuses our sin, and we have no excuse. To be Christian, we must do the same thing. It means forgivening the inexcusable, because God forgave the inexcusable in you.

This is hard. You know, I think it is no so hard to forgive a single great injury as the smaller things. The single great ones we pout and we gripe, but quickly it is forgotten. It is the litle things, the incessant provocations like the bossy mom in law, the bullying brother, the nagging wife, those little everyday idiosyncracies. Those are hardest to forgive. How can we do it? Only by remember where we stand, by meaning what it says in the Lord's prayer where it says "forgive us our trespases, as we forgive those who trespass against us." We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse is to refuse God's mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exception and God means what He says.

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