Sermon in a nutshell: Matthew 5:21-26
I often ask to my fellow Christians and fellow human beings: “What is the most difficult thing for you to do?” They say to me: “It is for me to forgive others!” The answer is same whether you are a Christian or non-Christian!
However, when Jesus taught the disciples how to live out our faith in God, he commanded us to be the salt and light of the world and to forgive others. Being salt and light of the world demands us to have upright behavior and appropriate words in any situation. We have to be strict for ourselves. Self-control is required from us. However, concerning to others, Jesus asks us to be forgiving and understanding them.
Jesus commands us to forgive others first for ourselves. When we do not forgive others, our soul, mind, and body is going to be sick and getting worse. When we hold grudge against somebody, we are not hurting him or her but hurting ourselves. I have seen so many people who have ulcer, cancer, high-blood pressure, head-ache, anxiety, and sleepless nights because of those anger that they keep in their heart. That is the “hell of fire” for us on this planet now! So, Jesus cares for us and wants to save us from there. So, my brothers and sisters! Let us forgive others for ourselves, if not for other reasons.
Biblically, we have to forgive others because we have been forgiven first. We were dead because of our Sin. We had broken relationship with God (Original Sin). However, Jesus died on the Cross and paved our way to God. In other words, we have been forgiven! We are now allowed to come before our Father. All our debts are cancelled. We have not been able to pay them with all our good deeds and efforts. Now as a forgiven sinner, it is our small duty to forgive others who have debts against us. If I owed million dollars to you and you said I was forgiven, I would be thrilled and thankful. Then if someone owes me ten dollars, I would just forgive the person and say it is okay, wouldn’t I? If I do not forgive the one who owed me ten dollars, you would be furious and decide to get the million dollars back from me, wouldn’t you?
Theologically, we want to forgive others because what we want is not “the retributive justice” but “the restorative justice.” Jesus wants us to have reconciliation with our enemies to glorify God’s name. Human law system wants to establish “justice” by paying back: “Eye for an eye!” There are two ways to wipe out our enemies: killing them all (retributive justice) or making them all our friends (restorative justice)! “Killing them all” strategy has not been working as we have witnessed in the Middle East. Now, let us change our course and try different strategy: “Making them all our friends”! May God bless all of us who are peacemakers!
1. Why do you need to forgive others? Can you name other reasons than suggested here above?
2. What have helped you to forgive those who have hurt you so badly? (Those who could not forgive others would listen to silently those stories and see if they can apply the same principle or methods to their own cases.)