Then Peter came to Him and said, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' - Matthew 18:21
We all live in seasons and valleys of life when we’re not making the spiritual progress we wish we were, but what happens if your life from the moment of salvation to Jesus’ second coming (or your death) looks nothing like Christ? If people were to look at your life, would there be enough evidence (fruit) that you were in fact a follower of Christ?
When it comes to holding a grudge against someone who has hurt us, often we actually don’t want to forgive them - even though we know we should. For many people, plotting out how to get revenge takes over all their spare time and distracts from what God is actually wanting to do in their lives.
Do our lives model what we say we really believe? That’s the focus of Jeff Vines’ current series on Christian atheism. In this sermon (video above or audio below), Jeff Vines examines what it really means to live for the Kingdom - we are the salt and light of the world and should therefore hold ourselves to a higher standard.
No matter who you are, if you have accepted Christ into your life then you are on the receiving end of the largest grace operation in history. A grace so big that we will never be able to repay in full.
Sin is debt, a debt that must be paid by someone. When we borrow from banks, it is expected that we will repay that money. When it comes to our sin, no matter how much sin debt we have mounted up, Jesus is willing to pay the price and forgive us.
You owe, you pay! - The World
You owe, I’ll pay! - Jesus
When you realise the enormity and size of your ‘gazillion’ dollars worth of debt that Jesus has forgiven you for, you’ll be able to see how small the ‘lunch money’ sized debt is that you need to forgive those who have sinned against you.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 6:23
Forgiveness does not mean that you continue to let that person hurt you over and over again. Jeff Vines explains in his sermon:
That’s why I tell a wife whose husband is beating her, run away. You can forgive him, but do it from a distance. If you’ve got a co-worker that stepped on you to get a promotion, that slanders your name, who is malicious and violent. You can forgive him or her, but it doesn’t mean you have to associate with that person anymore and put yourself where they can continue to wound and hurt you.
Forgiveness does not always mean reconciliation can take place. It still might mean that your mother is not allowed to come over to your house anymore because of the abuse she enacts upon your children.
What does forgiveness mean then Pastor Jeff?
It means that you give up the right and desire to hurt them back and truly wish them well before God!
Can you do that? Can you truly wish them well? And that you would actually pray for them and that they might find God and His love.