Kelsey Shipman and Jordan Palmer are both away on mission trips. Please keep them in your prayers, as well as their families who are excited and concerned and prayerful for them every moment while they’re gone.
Speaking of mission trips, once again our church is partnering with the Southside Church of Christ in Fort Worth, Texas, to form Team Imagine. The team has been training and preparing for months, and will return to Camp Dzerzhinets in mid-July. Those from South Fork who are a part of the group heading to Ukraine are Sue Ann Mills, Leslie Dunbar, and Audrey Vance.
One of the lessons they will share with the wonderful children at camp is the topic of my sermon this Sunday—forgiveness. Included in some of that material are these definitions/explanations of what it means to forgive:
To forgive means to graciously pardon the wrongs someone has committed against me.
To forgive means to give up the right to punish another person for wronging me.
I love that idea of giving up the right to punish someone who has wronged me. We tend to cry out for justice and vindication at best, and punishment and vengeance when we’re not quite at our best. But we can do better. We can do what Jesus did. One of the most fascinatingly simple descriptions of how Jesus handled those who had wronged Him is seen in these words from 1 Peter 2:21-23:
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”
Can you do that? Can you withhold judgment, and punishment, and vengeance, and that desire for vindication, and in its place can you entrust yourself to him who judges justly? In other words can you leave that part to God, who knows what He’s doing when it comes to those things far better than you do? Paul tells us that’s how we should do it. “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19) Can you do what Paul tells us to do later in that passage? “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)
I believe in forgiveness. I need it. I need it from God. I need it from others. And I need to grant it.