Sermon in a nutshell: Matthew 18:23-35
We can love others when we are loved first. In a sense, we learn how to love by being loved. Also, we can forgive and accept others when we realize that we have been also forgiven and accepted. Whether we realize it or not, Jesus died on the Cross for our sins and forgave us our sins completely. That is why everybody has potential to forgive others completely.
In June, when the UMW surprised me with an appreciation gift, I received a book, Same Kind of different as me, “a story of a modern-day slave, an international art dealer, and the unlikely woman who bond them together.” The story demonstrates us the truth that the Bible tells us today.
In the story, we can meet a black man, Denver. He cared for a white man, Mr. Ballantine. Mr. Ballantine was “a mean old drunk who had earned his family’s contempt” and “hated black people.” He called Denver, who brought him meals, “nigger” for three years. He hated Christians even more, considered us “a pack of mewling, insipid hypocrites.” Still Denver consistently cleaned his smelly and messy room and brought him nice meals from the homeless shelter. Finally after three years of consistent caring, Mr. Ballantine opened his heart and accepted the fact that he had been accepted by Denver and went to a church with him.
Then why did Denver cared for him and served him with unconditional love?
Denver was born and raised in the Red River Parish, a cotton plantation, in Louisiana. For nearly thirty years, he “sweated in the Louisiana sun, fightin off snakes, workin the earth till harvest, and pickin that cotton one boll at a time till my hands was raw, growin my own food, choppin wood all winter long to keep from freezin to death, startin all over in the spring.” He could not get out of poverty and racism even when he worked and tried hard. His loved ones either died or left him. So, he left the town also and became a homeless man in a strange place until he met a couple, Debbie and Ron, who worked at a homeless shelter in Fort Worth, the Union Gospel Mission, as volunteers.
With God’s grace and the couple’s consistent love, Denver started opening his heart and becoming a trusted leader among the friends as well as among the homeless people. Debbie and Ron poured out their love, time, and money for the homeless people and for that man, Denver. When I read the story, I felt that they were melting down an iceberg with their hug! It was an impossible thing but it happened.
Jesus told a story of a king who forgave a slave the debt of ten thousand talents (=half million dollars). Then the slave met a fellow slave who owed him a hundred denari (= a hundred dollars). When the slave did not forgive the fellow slave and put him in a jail, the king was mad and arrested the slave again to punish him. Jesus warned us, saying “My heavenly Father will also do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” May God help us to remember that we are forgiven people and we are called to forgive others!
- When do you realize that you are forgiven all of your sins?
- Who are the ones that you want to forgive in your heart?