Hello everyone, I am James and welcome to the foundations podcast. It is Wednesday! We are well into this week now. I don’t know about you but Wednesdays are particularly busy mornings in our house. But I know we’re not alone. Many of you listening in have such busy lives! So, well done for prioritising the time. I’m working to keep this short thought for the day to a 6 minutes-ish reflection; combined with the Bible reading and the brilliant worship track I hope this package really sets us all up to start or end the day really well.
We’re starting Luke 17 today. Let me read out two verses we will focus on together and we can get straight into it.
(v3-4) “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
Talk about raising the bar. These are very clear and very challenging Bible verses. It is all about forgiveness. This week we are setting these stories in a larger theme of what the Kingdom of God is like and how we live those values out in a world that might not be of the same values. Forgiveness is a foundational principle of the Kingdom of God.
C.S. Lewis – best known for writing Narnia but also a brilliant writer about the Christian faith too – puts forgiveness like this: “everyone thinks that forgiveness is a great idea, until they have someone to forgive… then it becomes really hard.”
I wonder if that connects with you at all? It certainly does for me. I don’t know if you have ever had to forgive someone – how did that make you feel? Sometimes it truly can be very hard. Especially if they are friends and family. Strangers letting me down or getting things wrong I can deal with. But when it is those closer circles I still often find it very hard. But the verses today say we must look to forgive others.
The last verse, let me read it again quickly, “Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” This word ‘repent’ which is a word that means they have turned to God and started making efforts to live his way. We might call that living out the Kingdom of God here on earth. If they have turned to God in this way, we too must not hold a grudge against them.
I once heard someone say “Holding a grudge is allowing someone to live rent free in your head.” It is often a waste of time and energy. Often the other person is oblivious and if often does more harm to us than it does to the person being grudged against (that is probably not a word). That is why it is so important to forgive each other.
Why? Because it is good for us.
Why? Because God has forgiven us.
1 Peter 2:24 “He Himself bore our sins in His body… by his wounds we are healed.”
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – St Paul.
God has forgiven us. A lot like the prodigal son story that Helen shared with us last week. We have all left and gone our own way… and he welcomes us home. The forgiveness led to restoration and celebration. Because we have received such forgiveness, we must forgive ourselves and we then can forgive others.
Forgiveness is a choice… not an option.
Forgiveness can be a pathway to the Kingdom of God.
Forgiveness can be really hard but we must do it.
I’m just going to leave a little bit of space at the end of this podcast. If there is anyone we need to forgive… or if we need to forgive ourselves for something… let’s invite God to come and be with us now… and then we will pray together.
God, thank you for forgiving us when we have got it wrong. Give us strength today to forgive other people. Amen.
READING: Luke 17:1-19
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied round their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves.
‘If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying “I repent,” you must forgive them.’
The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’
He replied, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it will obey you.
‘Suppose one of you has a servant ploughing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, “Come along now and sit down to eat”? Won’t he rather say, “Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink”? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”’
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’
When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’