This word is something that has been placed upon me for a while and I feel like something that needs to be discussed because as Christians, we are not only watched by our Christians family but also the secular world as well. Have you ever been in a certain situation where you were doing something and there feels like there is a watchdog group watching you like I’m going to catch you with a got you question. With this, it’s different. We said that as Christians we are willing to take on the understanding and teachings of Christ. If this is the case, we simply cannot worry about what the outside world will thank of us. So if that is the case, it is up to us to learn and understand it. So we don’t need to worry about everybody else and what they think about us because all that will happen is nothing short of misinterpretation and misunderstanding. It is also imperative that we have the right understanding of the word as well because it is not wise to speak on something that we know very little about. Now, before going into the word for today, let us pray:
“Father God, I thank you for this word that you have placed upon me. On this day God, I ask that this word you have chosen me to speak, allow it to reach the hearts and minds of those right now that are listening. Let this word not only manifest in their hearts but also allow them to share the word with which you have given me. I ask that with this word I am about to speak, let there also be understanding to what this word is meant to do to us individually. In Jesus name, let us say – Amen.”
Now if you could, please open your Bibles to the Book of Colossians, chapter 3 versus 12 through 17. And also once you have it if you would please stand and say Amen. Now, I will be reading out of the NIV version once again it is Colossians chapter 3 versus 12 through 17 and the scripture reads:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
I want to emphasize that my sermon will come from the thirteenth verse of what I just read and the title of my sermon is “How to Forgive Like God”. I want to take you to a period of 60 A.D. where Paul is trying to combat errors in the church and show believers that everything they need can be achieved through Christ. In this time, he (Paul) is talking to a church in Colossae, which is a city in Asia Minor. While it is noted that Paul has never been to Colossae, a church was founded in that location by Epaphras and others from Paul’s missionary travels. Paul finds out though that the church has been infiltrated by religious relativism with some in the church making the effort to combine elements of paganism and secular philosophy with Christian Doctrine. He decides to not only confront the false teachings but also affirm the sufficiency of Christ.
Paul had to battle ideas such as one, it took special knowledge to be accepted by God, two, that false teachers that God wouldn’t come in a human form or that God did not create the world because he wouldn’t have created the world evil, and that Christ wasn’t the source of salvation. These were just a few of the many things that Paul had to deal with in churches at Colossae and Loadicea, which also had issues in their church. Now, there were many things that Paul and his missionaries, like Epaphras, had to correct within the church due to issues within the leadership. One of the many teachings that needed to be corrected is what we as Christians should be doing on a regular basis. In correcting the Church, Paul goes back to show how we can live for God in everyday life, going back to teachings like; Imitate Christ’s compassion and forgiveness, Letting the peace of Christ rule within us, always being thankful, keeping God’s word at all times, live as a representative of Christ, and letting love guide you. So, order to forgive like God, you must first “Forgive others because God forgives you.” In Colossians 3:13, the text clearly says “Forgive as the Lord forgave you”. The teachings that Paul received from Christ and gave to his missionaries were meant to show the virtues of Christ. He (Christ) repeatedly has forgiven us no matter how big or small our sin was. If you go back a little in to verses 8 through 10, the scripture talks about ridding yourself of your old life and becoming new in Christ. Not only that, but you should continue to remain in Christ regardless of actions of the outside world. It is almost impossible to say “I forgive you” and move on with your life. If you say that and then hold a grudge with someone or something, did you really forgive? Probably not. It is not enough to just simply say that you forgive especially if you don’t understand the true value of forgiveness. Think back to all the times, big or small, just how many times God has forgiven you of all your sin. Does it not make sense to return that same amount of forgiveness to the ones that have done harm to you? In order to forgive like God, you must forgive others as God has forgiven you.
Not only must you be able to forgive others as the Lord has forgiven you, when you forgive like God, my second point is that when you forgive like God, you allow “God’s love to help you forgive others.” In Colossians 3:15, it states “Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” You are not at peace if your heart is not in Christ. It doesn’t mean that differences diminish or that they will go away. But how do we live in Christ with constant conflicts all around us? We don’t. We can’t live in Christ if we are living in everything else. You must not carry the burdens of the world because they will weight you down. And if the burdnes of the world weight you down, then you will not be able to fully understand how forgiveness is a part living in Christ.
To forgive like God, not only must you forgive others as God has forgiven you, and show that God’s love will help you to forgive others, but in order to forgive like God, you must understand that Forgiveness is not weakness, forgiveness is love. In Colossians 3:14, the scripture reads “and over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity”. The virtues that Paul talks about are all bound together by love. Love is the last piece we put on which holds everything else in place. To practice all of these virtues and not show love in the face negativity will lead to distortion, fragmentation, and stagnation.
As I close this sermon, Paul understood the true teachings of Christ and understood how to forgive as a child of God, we must incorporate his same teachings and do the same.
When Paul wrote to the churches, he wanted to ensure that the true teachings of Jesus Christ were being taught to all those that wanted to live their lives as a Christian. He knew that one of the many virtues all Christians needed to be able to comprehend was forgiveness.
As Christian, no matter how big or small the act done upon us may be, we must one, be able to forgive others as if God would forgive us. Through this forgiveness, we will show one of the many virtues of Christ which will in turn allow us to show the same love and forgiveness because Christ reigns within us and not the flesh.
Finally, your ability to forgive is love and not weakness. Paul talks about the importance of having the same compassion as Christ has for you when you ask for forgiveness from him.