Extending Christ’s Mercy to Others
On Sunday night, April 22, Hallmark Cards sponsored the television movie called “Crossroads: A Story of Forgiveness.” It tells of how Bruce Murakami lost his wife, Cindy, and 11-year-old daughter, Chelsea, in a horrific car accident. Bruce soon learned that the primary cause of the wreck was the street racing of a young man named Justin Cabezas. Bruce spent three years and much money to bring about the conviction of Justin for vehicular manslaughter. But after seeing the young man in court and then meeting him face to face, Bruce found himself thinking that God wanted him to show mercy. Today Bruce and Justin tour the country for an organization called Safe Teen Driver speaking to young people and encouraging safety behind the wheel.
Jesus’ Parable of the Unmerciful Servant – Matthew 18:21-35
Jesus gave us a great call to forgiveness. Spiritual leaders of that day said to forgive three times, so Peter saw himself far more generous…after all, seven times! But Jesus’ call to forgiveness is unlimited.
• The Master’s Generosity v. 24 – 10,000 talents equals possibly billions of dollars in our day. He was forgiven of something he could never repay. His only hope was grace and mercy. Our debt before God could never be calculated, but whatever debt we have, God’s mercy is bigger.
Ephesians 2:4-7 – The richness of God’s mercy. Jesus pictured in his story in Matthew 18 these words in Ephesians 2. There is no way to describe or measure what God does for you. I hope this forgiveness is a reality for you. Are you experiencing such richness in your life that it affects your relationships with others? Does forgiveness go to the depths of your being? We can experience the richness of mercy from God.
• The Slave’s Hardness of Heart Unfortunately, this man was not touched or influenced to the depths of his heart. In his “defense”, after all, it is nice to get back a “few hundred dollars” that someone else owes you! Right? He was pleaded to, just as he had pleaded, but there was nothing in his heart to respond with mercy. He just wanted his money back. He even choked the man and had him thrown in prison!
Matthew 6:14-15; 7:12 – Treat others as you want to be treated. Forgiveness is the one statement in Jesus’ prayer that he expounds on! Mt. 7:12 – If we really want God to hold our sins over our heads and be harsh with us, then we, too, can be harsh on others.
Ephesians 4:20-24, 32 – Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and be kind, forgiving. Have encounters with God, learn Christ, get somewhat of a concept of what God has done for us…for then we will be impacted. Self can be so selfish, to get what we think is due us! Verse 32—this cannot be done without going through verses 20-24 personally. To forgive can only be explained outside ourselves…it is not within our personal power. This sermon is much more than just about forgiveness…it is about the multitude of things we can do only through God’s power.
• The Master’s Justice God is not only merciful; he is also just (that is why he throws the previously forgiven man into prison…because he was an unforgiving man).
Luke 18:1-8 – Will not God bring about justice for those who cry out to him? The Master in Matthew 18 was so grieved, so angered (out of pain). God cannot just “wash his hands” because “after all, he is so nice, so forgiving”. No, God must become involved. Indeed, if we continue to be unforgiving and harsh, a day will come that we will “pay”!
James 2:13 – Judgment will be merciless to those who have shown no mercy. This is an unchanging truth.
By the strength of God Corrie ten Boom was able to forgive the cruel guard from the Nazi concentration camp where she had been interred.
Both stories of Bruce Murakami and Corrie ten Boom may seem so far removed, but in our every day lives, there are situations God is calling us to forgive!
Can we be this forgiving to people who fail to treat us as we desire in our everyday lives, like those who give us poor service at a fast food restaurant?
Conclusion: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
—Robert Lee, 5-6-07, a.m.