Messages from Pastor Raddatz
September 13, 2020 Mount Olive Houston, TX
IT’S ABOUT FORGIVENESS
Genesis 50:15-21, Romans 14:1-12, Matthew 18:21-35
Dear People of God,
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
You are forgiven all your sins!!! Forgiveness is the heart of the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!! You have been forgiven as a gift. I pray that you would give this gift to yourself and to others.
There are basically two types of Christians:
- Christians who rejoice that they are forgiven, yet they withhold forgiveness from others
- Christians who rejoice that they are forgiven and freely forgive others
The Matthew reading for today describes this type of person who knows they are forgiven, but who will not forgive others. Jesus tells a story in response to Peters question: “HOW MANY TIMES SHOULD I FORGIVE MY BROTHER?” Jesus answers with what seems to be a mathematical equation, but in essence he is saying that forgiveness that is shared is completely unlimited. (Jesus answered Peter’s question with this: “If your brother sins against you seventy times seven you continue to forgive him”. For the answer is not in the number of times that we should forgive but in the use of the Hebrew number seven. The use of the Hebrew number seven by Jesus means complete or finished or done!
The first use of the number 7 in the Bible relates to the creation week in Genesis 1. God spends six days creating the heavens and the earth, and then rests on the seventh day. This is our template for the seven-day week, observed around the world to this day. The seventh day was to be “set apart” for Israel; the Sabbath was a holy day of rest (Deuteronomy 5:12).
Thus, right at the start of the Bible, the number 7 is identified with something being “finished” or “complete.” From then on, that association continues, as 7 is often found in contexts involving completeness or divine perfection (www.gotquestions.org).
Peter felt that he was being gracious when he asked Jesus if he should forgive his brother seven times, because the Priests of the Old Testament felt that forgiving someone three times was enough.
The commentaries point out that the Rabbis, on the basis of Amos 1:3; 2:6 and Job 33:29.30, limited forgiveness to three times, a plain misapplication of these passages. Peter was more generous than the Rabbis, but his generosity amounted to limitation which destroys it all. This passage involves no limitation (Bul’s Notes)
We cannot forgive on our own. We can only forgive by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. The person we forgive must now settle their account with God.
Some of you may be thinking: “Well, if someone was able to share forgiveness and not withhold it, that’s just the way they are, or they must have had a nicer upbringing than I had. They don’t know the junk I had to live through. Nothing was forgiven in the house I grew up in.” Or you might be thinking, “The people who can easily forgive are those who had it easy”. This theory is false. Our Old testament reading shows us that an individual can forgive even when they have been treated badly.
Joseph, in the Genesis reading for today, shows us that forgiveness is unlimited. His brothers sold him into slavery. He was falsely accused of rape. He was forgotten by his cell mates who he helped. He interprets the Pharaoh’s dream and saves Egypt from a famine. Now, his brothers ask to have an audience with their brother, unknown to them, and brother Joseph forgives them.
Joseph summarizes his standing on unlimited forgiveness in verse 19: BUT JOSEPH SAID TO THEM, “DO NOT FEAR, FOR AM I IN THE PLACE OF GOD? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive as they are today.”
Will you live FORGIVEN AND FORGIVE?
Paul summarizes how we are to live in the reading for today from Romans in verse 7: “For none of us lives to himself and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lords. For to this end Christ died and lived again that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
In a recent study only 1/3 of our attributes are found in our DNA, the other 2/3 are acquired through learning. This is great news, because you can be in charge of your own learning and who you become. (p. 49, Resilient, Rick Hanson Ph.D., Harmony books)
How can you learn forgiveness?
- Reflect upon Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace that you have been saved through faith, …it is the gift of God…” Also Matthew 10:8, “…freely you have received, freely give.”
- Pray for God’s power to forgive, thank God he brought you through this, and repent of trying to live on your own power. Pray for that individual who hurt you. Mention them by name (this is a true test).
- Know that God will bring some good from the experience. He will draw you closer to him and he will probably use you to help someone else, who will go through what you have gone through.
Die to your need to withhold forgiveness. Live in unlimited forgiveness. It is for you and for everyone. May this peace, which passes all human understanding keep your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus, to life everlasting, Amen.
Jesus is Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3),
Pastor John Raddatz
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