“A Fatherly Lesson about Forgiveness”                                          June 16, 2013

Psalm 5:1-8 & Luke 7:36-8:3                                                            Stephens City UMC

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

I.                   Today is Father’s Day and one role for fathers is that of teacher.

A.    There are lessons to teach such as how to ride a bicycle, how to mow the grass and how to take out the trash.

1.     If a father has sons then he has to give “The Talk” and often it is the father who is permitted to sit in the passenger seat the first few times the teenager gets behind the wheel of the automobile.

2.     My sister and I aged our father 10 years with that experience.

3.     And Christian fathers get to teach many lessons about the faith including the matter of forgiveness.

4.     Some fathers are doing well in teaching that aspect of the Christian life but it doesn’t appear that forgiving others is one of the strengths of our society.

5.     I mean there are plenty of people who hold a grudge and bearing a grudge isn’t limited to those outside the walls of a church.

6.     I’ve served plenty of places where I’ve been walking down a hallway and observed two members pass one another without a word and suddenly felt not just a chill in the air but a freeze.

7.     And unfortunately I and everyone else knew why.

8.     I once worked with a church as a conflict consultant and what had happened there was that there were two key families in that church.

9.     Both families loved their church and demonstrated their devotion through many hours of work and service.

10.             One family had a son and the other family had a daughter.

11.             As teenagers the two began to date and after college they married and had a child.

12.             Like their parents they too did much for the church.

13.             Unfortunately, something went wrong and the two divorced.

14.             The parents of each agreed that they would find a way to maintain their relationship for they had been the best of friends, but church members wouldn’t allow that to happen.

15.             Half of the church said that the young man was without sin and that it was the woman’s fault they had divorced.

16.             The other half of the church said that the young woman was without sin and that it was the man’s fault they had divorced.

17.             These members would not permit there to be forgiveness for all that had happened and the result was that what had been a very fine church became a battleground that precluded them from being in mission to their community and the world.

18.             Their decline not only hurt them but the very Kingdom of God and it was all because they had not learned and would not practice forgiveness.

B.     Now by no means does the lack of forgiveness in situations that you and I could name mean that that’s the fault of fathers, but since it is Father’s Day that provides me an opportunity to offer a fatherly lesson on this matter.

1.     One way to get into this is to follow the course of the Rev. Tom Chryst of Racine, Wisconsin, who once asked his congregation to rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 10 (Chyrst, “Forgiven a Little, Forgiven a Lot,” June 18, 2007).

2.     For instance, how good looking are you with 10 being a supermodel and a 1 being a face that only a mother could love?

3.     And how smart are you with 10 being Einstein and 1 being whatever politician most recently put his foot in his mouth?

C.     We could keep playing that game but since this is a sermon – how sinful are you?

1.     10 would be an absolute scoundrel and 1 would be Jesus Christ.

2.     How do you rate yourself? What number did you give yourself?

3.     When you were rating yourself did you go through the Ten Commandments and score yourself OK on 7 out of 10?

4.     Or maybe you compared yourself with others?

5.     “Hey, I’m not serving a life sentence for murder, so I’m doing pretty well.”

6.     Did that sort of thinking get you to a 3 which is about a B+?

D.    I’ve got to wondering if Simon the Pharisee thought that in our New Testament Lesson for today.

1.     Simon had Jesus over for dinner.

2.     We don’t know why he invited Jesus but he did.

3.     Did he want to learn from Jesus? I mean really learn from Jesus? Hard to say?

4.     What is clear is that Simon wasn’t the perfect host because if he had been he would have provided a foot washing, a kiss of greeting along with an anointing with oil.

5.     He did none of those.

E.     After zeroing out as a host Luke informs us that a sinful woman entered Simon’s house.

1.     She demonstrated great humility, sorrow and repentance by kissing and anointing Jesus’ feet and even wiped them with her hair.

2.     Luke doesn’t give us the number but it appears that everyone in the room considered this woman to be a perfect 10 with regards to sin.

3.     However, based on the way she acted the woman appears to think that she was at least a 12, maybe a 15, so she was in a league of her own when it came to sin.

4.     The pain of this sin was deep in her soul and she needed forgiveness and the healing that comes with forgiveness.

5.     And Jesus forgave her and she cried a river of gratitude.

F.     The woman got it but Simon was still clueless so Jesus told a short story.

1.     He talked about two men and each owed a debt and each was forgiven.

2.     Jesus asked, “Which man loved the more?”

3.     Simon responded, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” In other words, the bigger sinner.

4.     And Jesus said, “You have judged rightly” which in today’s language would be “Well, you got that right.”

G.    Now that begs the question “Do you and I have it right in understanding our need for forgiveness?”

1.     Remember when we were doing the exercise of where you were on the scale of 1 to 10?

2.     Did you compare yourself to some horrible person so you’d come out as a 2 or a 3?

3.     If so that’s the standard way for human beings to operate, but it’s not how God operates.

4.     You see God doesn’t compare us with others.

5.     God compares us to God’s standards because God has a standard and God’s standard is perfection.

6.     As Rev. Chryst told his people, “There is no graded scale with God when it comes to our sins.” God doesn’t grade on a curve. (Chryst, “Forgiven a Little, Forgiven a Lot,” June 18, 2007)

7.     You are either pure or you are sin stained.

8.     Some people aren’t comfortable with that and generally those people don’t see much purpose for the church.

9.     I mean why come here if there is no reason to confess your sin or to be told that you are forgiven in Jesus Christ?

10.             If you are without sin then why do you need Jesus?

11.             Or maybe just a little Jesus if you think you that are guilty of a little sin.

12.             But if you have a mountain of sin then you’ll be crying tears of appreciation like the woman in our story today.

H.    That woman who knew that she was a 15 on a scale of 1 to 10 when it came to being a sinner and probably would have argued with the Apostle Paul as to who was the chief of sinners, realized that Jesus had given her a score not of 10+, but zero.

1.     Jesus was telling her on that day long ago that zero sins were held against her by God and Jesus is telling that to you today.

2.     Simon thought his sins were zero because as a Pharisee he was such a good religious man but only the forgiveness and the righteousness of Christ gets you to zero.

3.     The only thing the woman did to get to zero was to admit her need.

4.     So I know this is strange what I’m about to say but I hope you know your sin very well.

5.     And then may you know Christ’s forgiveness even better.

6.     And may Christ’s forgiveness of you help you to forgive others and be reconciled to them as that would be good for you and them plus it would be a great gift to give your heavenly Father this Father’s Day.

7.     Life is so much better when you know that so let me invite you to a time of prayer and tell Jesus the truth about yourself although He already knows it.

8.     And after you do that He has something to say to you.

9.     Let us pray the Prayer of Confession printed in the bulletin (or shown on the screen) and then there will be a significant time for silent prayer so you can personally speak with God and then listen to God your Heavenly Father who like the Forgiving Father in the story of the Prodigal Son is running towards you even now.

10.             Let us pray together.