Since God's kingdom is grounded in his gracious forgiveness, forgiven people forgive.
We know that we can't live in this world very long without being hurt. If I were to ask who here has been hurt, every hand would go up, including mine. We've all been wronged. As a pastor and teacher, I can't begin to count the times I've heard from people about how they've been wounded, mistreated, or victimized. I've sat in restaurants and heard stories of betrayal and heartbreak that have wrecked me. I've had students sit in my office and share about things that have happened to them that have broken my heart.
You may have walked through the doors of this church today carrying the weight of a serious wrong that was done to you this past week, this past year, or years ago. If that's your situation today, and that has been me at points, the message I want to share is going to be hard to hear because it involves spiritual surgery. While surgery is never fun, the good news is that God wants to remove what's toxic to our hearts so we live our lives with love and joy. That surgery is called forgiveness.
Christ Calls us to reverse the Law of Lamech
Let's begin by recognizing the Law of Lamech.
(Read Genesis 4:23-24)
Lamech killed a man for wounding him and then said that he would seek revenge 77 times over against anyone who hurts him. That became known as the Law of Lamech. It's the idea that if anyone inflicts pain on me I will make them pay. It's natural for us to want to respond that way when we're hurt and sometimes, unfortunately, people act it out. That's how life goes and how life ends when we live by the Law of Lamech. Christ calls us to reverse that.
(Read Matthew 18:21)
In the middle of this discussion and relationships in the church, Peter comes to Jesus ...
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Scott Wenig is associate professor of applied theology at Denver Seminary in Denver, Colorado, and author of Straightening the Altars.