I. Can you?
II. Will you?
Ephesians 4:29-5:2 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your
mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their
needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy
Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get
rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every
form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each
other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
In the name of Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave himself up for us, dear
Christian friends, Which of the following statements do you hear yourself saying most often?
A) “I will never forgive him”
B) “I will forgive him only when he forgives me”
C) “I will forgive him no matter what happens”
The answer C) sounds a lot like Joseph whom we heard about in the first lesson
today as he was able to forgive his brothers who had sold him into slavery and told his
father he had been torn apart by an animal. It even sounds a little like Peter whom we
heard about in the Gospel who wanted to go over and above the Rabbinic law of forgiving
three times in order to forgive “up to seven times” (Mt 18:21). The answer C) especially
sounds like our Savior Jesus who told Peter, “not seven times, but seventy-seven times”
(Mt 18:22) or maybe even seventy times seven; in other words, “Forgive endlessly, Peter!”.
Which answer sounds most like yours? If A) and B) are anywhere in your thought
process, and for most of us, if not all of us, at one time or another they have been, you are
here on the right day. With God’s Word before us today as our motivation, we need to take
on this rallying cry: LET’S FORGIVE IT OUR ALL! I. Can you? II. Will you?.
Can you? Yes! I am absolutely convinced you can answer C) from now on. Do
You might be saying, “No!” “My husband left me for another woman and I am
supposed to forgive him? How can I?” “My father was struck down by enemy gunfire in
LET’S FORGIVE IT OUR ALL!
I. Can you?
II. Will you?
2 the Korean War and I am supposed to forgive that soldier who killed him? How can I?”
“My sister hasn’t spoken to me since we had an argument over politics thirty-six years ago
and I am supposed to forgive her? How can I?” “My son was left a paraplegic because his
girlfriend decided she should drive after getting drunk and I am supposed to forgive her?
How can I?”
Your answer is found in the Word today. In Christ God forgave you...Christ
loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. God
has forgiven you! When you gave up working at your marriage, when you harbored that
hatred in your heart for your lazy coworker, when you replaced humility with pride and
damaged your ability to reach out to your neighbor— all those sins, and so many more
neither you nor I can count, have been erased from the memory and eyesight of the all-
knowing and all-seeing God.
God has removed your sins from you “as far as the east is from the west” (Ps
103:12) as we read in today’s psalm! He released you from the bondage of those sins! He
freed you from their punishment of perpetual pain in hell!
Jesus Christ accomplished this for you! He completed his heavenly Father’s plan
for your salvation! He offered up himself as the fulfillment of all Old Testament sacrifices
and paid the price required for you to be free! His life of living under the law, his suffering
under those who were supposed to be law-abiding, his blood spilled on the ground, his
death and then placement into the ground, and his coming back from the dead to life
brought life to all and to all who believe in him the benefits of salvation are bestowed.
Can you forgive it your all? Your answer is found in this font in front of me or
wherever you were baptized. At this place, many of you were washed clean of your sins
through the simple water and the saving Word of God. You were made a child of God.
You were supplied with the confident hope of an eternity in heaven. You were given
strength to do the will of God, including forgiving each other.
Can you forgive it your all? Your answer is found on that altar as you receive the
bread and wine that is also Jesus’ body and blood. In this miraculous meal, God nourishes
you with his love and forgiveness, strengthens you to believe in him even more and
motivates you to live a life pleasing to him, which involves the instructions before us today:
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form
of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other.
Can you forgive it your all? Yes, you can! God has enabled and empowered you
to do so!
Will you forgive it your all? There are a number of ways to help you answer that.
First, remember what Jesus said in the Gospel today. After telling us about the unmerciful
servant who would be punished for his failure to forgive, Jesus says: “This is how my
heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your
heart” (Mt 18:35). Forgiving it our all will put us in line with God’s commands and keep
us from receiving his earthly or eternal punishment.
Keep in mind another command the Apostle Paul wrote for the Ephesian Christians
and for us: do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the
day of redemption. Our failure to forgive might lead the Holy Spirit to anger and cause
him to take our redemption away from us!
Will we forgive it our all? We say we will and do we really want to go back on our
word? How many hundreds or thousands or hundreds of thousands of times have we
3 prayed, “Forgive us our trespasses (sins) as we forgive those who trespass (sin) against
us”? Are those merely memorized words or words read off a page or do we really mean
them and will we act on them?
Finally, I offer one more reason why it is important for us to forgive it our all. Put
your fingers to your chest where your heart is. Do you feel that? If you are harboring
hatred in your heart, holding back forgiveness for someone, what you feel there is pain
caused by your sin. It is a pain you are causing the other person, too, as they have to go on
living their life without your forgiveness. Do you really want to be responsible for feeling
and causing so much pain to yourself and to others? Forgive it your all and set your heart,
and their heart, free from its prison and its pain.
Can you forgive your ex-husband who divorced you, the unknown soldier who
gunned down your father, the estranged sister who won’t speak to you, the drunk driver
who changed your loved one’s life forever? Yes, you can! Your Savior Jesus has given
you the promise of his forgiveness and the power for you to forgive others.
Will you? You need to! It will benefit you, it will be a blessing to others and, best
of all, it will glorify your Savior God!
Let’s answer C) whenever we are given the opening quiz. It is the answer God
gives to us and for us! Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live
a life of love. So, let’s forgive it our all!