Consider this a “do-over” sermon. I’ve preached on the Lord’s Prayer at least a few times before, yet I’ve never come to grips with Jesus’ difficult words about forgiveness in v. 12 or the “postscript” to his prayer in vv. 14-15. To put it bluntly, Jesus means exactly what he says: if we don’t forgive other people, we won’t be forgiven. What does that mean? This sermon explores that question.
Sermon Text: Matthew 6:5-15
[To listen on the go, right-click here to download an MP3.]
Malcolm Gladwell is the bestselling author of Tipping Point and Outliers. His most recent book, also a bestseller, examines the biblical story of David and Goliath. He identifies some principles that the overmatched shepherd boy used to vanquish his foe, and then looks at how those same principles work out in our world today.
While he was researching the book, he met a woman from Winnipeg named Wilma Derksen. Thirty years ago, the Derksens experienced every parent’s worst nightmare—their daughter, Candace, was abducted and murdered.
Gladwell was amazed by something that Wilma said at the time: “We would like to know who the person or persons (who murdered Candace) are so we could share, hopefully, a love that seems to be missing in these people’s lives.” She continued, “I can’t say at this point I forgive this person,” but as Gladwell noticed, “the stress was on the phrase at this point.” As he writes, “I wanted to know where the Derksens found the strength to say these things … Where do two people find the power to forgive in a moment like that?”
The answer, Gladwell discovered, was their Christian faith. And the experience helped Gladwell himself rediscover his own Christian faith.
But notice how important it was to Wilma Derksen, a Christian, to meet her daughter’s killer or killers, to “share… a love that seems to be missing” from their lives. Notice how important it was that she find a way to forgive them—even though she admitted that she hadn’t done so yet. Read the rest of this entry »