“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32, ESV)
Many of you this week have responded back to me about how the text from Sunday’s message, Matthew 18:21-35, has had you thinking about forgiveness and what it really means, and what it most deeply looks like. I will readily admit that it has been a passage that God has used lately to humble, challenge, and change me as well. As I have reflected on Jesus’ story I want to be the kind of person that reflects the love of God in the way I love, and specifically forgive those who have wronged me.
I mentioned on Sunday seven ways that the seventeenth century Puritan pastor, Thomas Watson talked about “gospel-forgiving” and wanted to bring those to your mind again to help solidify what that looks like. Watson writes in his work The Lord’s Prayer that we forgive others…
“When we strive against all thoughts of revenge; when we will not do our enemies mischief, but wish well to them, grieve at their calamities, pray for them, seek reconciliation with them, and show ourselves ready on all occasions to relieve them. This is gospel-forgiving.”
To break it down Watson says:
- We strive against all thoughts of revenge - we are out to get back at the people who have wronged us.
- We will not do our enemies mischief - we won’t wrong or harm them.
- We wish our enemies well - we desire that they are strong, prosperous, healthy.
- We grieve at their calamities - it breaks our heart to see them hurt
- We pray for them
- We seek reconciliation with them - we want to “be at peace with all men.”
- We show ourselves ready on all occasions to relieve them - we desire to do good to them and bless them.
This is how Christ has forgiven us. He didn’t seek revenge but cried out “Father forgiven them!” and then laid down his life for his enemies. Furthermore, Watson asks “How must we forgive?” and then lays out three simple ways:
- Forgive sincerely, from the heart. No pretense or show. As God has sincerely forgiven us.
- Forgive fully. Keeping no record of wrongs but completely forgiving the other person as God has fully forgiven us all our sins.
- Forgive often. We often sin against God, we are called to often forgive our neighbor.
I know God has been “taking me to school” on forgiveness lately, and I know for many of you the same is true. I am praying that the Lord will work within us deeply to be a people of true “gospel-forgiveness” and display to this world what real grace looks like as God has forgiven us.
I’ve been really thankful for this series on relationships, and hope that it has been an impacting series for you as well. This Sunday we are in Philippians 4:11-13 looking at how our lack of contentment in Christ can really damage our relationships with one another. Our songs of worship are listed in this week’s Spotify Playlist so you can be more familiar with them. We are singing:
- My Lighthouse
- Christ Is Enough
- Came To My Rescue
- How Great Thou Art
- Jesus, Thank You
I hope you’ll be with us on Sunday morning at 9:30 and 11am.
Also, this Sunday evening we are gathering with our Farmington Hills and Dearborn campus at 6pm for worship and giving thanks together. We will gather at our Farmington Hills campus, 28301 Middlebelt Rd, Farmington Hills, MI 48334 for a time of worship, hearing how God has been working among our campuses, fun and celebration together. I hope you will join us on Sunday night.
Also, on Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve we will have a family gathering together at our campus at 7pm. The Thanksgiving Eve gathering is one my favorite times to celebrate as a church God’s goodness and kindness. We’ll sing, read Scripture, hear from one another and have pie together on Wednesday night. You won’t want to miss this time together!
I hope you have a great rest of the week. As usual, if there is any way we can pray for and serve you please let us know! May the Lord bless and keep you and produce within you a heart of “gospel-forgiveness” as you see the grace and forgiveness of Christ.