Monday, August 18, 2014

Needing Grace

Sometimes a sermon just isn’t big enough.  Yesterday I preached about forgiveness.  That’s what I saw as the overwhelming theme in Genesis 45 where Joseph tells his brothers that he’s NOT angry about them selling him into slavery years before.  They have trouble believing him, and years later he has to tell them again that they are forgiven, and he says, “You meant it for evil but God used it for good” (Genesis 50:20).  I also talked about the forgiveness equations we find in Jesus’ words in Matthew.  Jesus tells Peter we are to forgive 70x7 times, which is hyperbole for an infinite number (Matthew 18:21), and he also teaches the disciples about prayer, saying that we need to forgive others as we ourselves are forgiven (Matthew 6:12-15).

I found a cool blog about 70x7 with lots of cool stories about forgiveness.  Check it out! 490 words.  Be sure to read why they chose this name.
I also talked about how we need to accept forgiveness.  This can be difficult if we think something is too big or too small to be forgiven, and that’s the problem Joseph’s brothers were having.  But I think I didn’t talk enough about how hard it is to give forgiveness sometimes.  And how with both sides of the equation—accepting and giving forgiveness—the whole thing starts with prayer.

And I wish I had been able to share this insight I found in one of the online commentaries, because it was an emotional day for some.  I hope for good reasons, feeling God's blessings, but even those blessings can be hard when they are stretching and growing us, or when we are feeling overwhelmed with our need and/or by God's grace.

“It is okay for us to be emotional about those moments in life when our situation overwhelms us. Joseph had been living with memories of violence done to him, mixed with his own feelings of sadness, anger, and homesickness. Joseph did not seek revenge, even though his authority would have allowed him to do so. He dreamed of forgiveness and reconciliation, and made it happen. Picture the worst that anyone has ever done to you. Now imagine extending forgiveness by telling that person that God was in the details, working through them to use you for his glory. How much more freeing would that be than simply holding their actions against them forever? That would be beyond forgiveness. That would be grace.”[1]

Grace.  It’s huge because it’s what the Gospel is all about.  Jesus didn’t come to rub our sin in, but to rub it out (John 3:17).  Easy to say, but not always so easy in the execution.  So I’m praying today for all those who are finding grace to be difficult, either in the giving or the accepting.  And I’m reminded once again how much this song is true.
May God bless your seeking him today and every day with the bountiful beauty of grace freely given and received.

No comments:

Post a Comment