“Riding with Unforgiveness.”

SERMON​ ​by​ ​the​ ​Rev.​ ​Amos​ ​McCarthy

15th Sunday after Pentecost, September 17, 2017.

Title:​ ​“Riding​ ​with​ ​Unforgiveness”
Text:​ ​Matthew​ ​18:21-35
21.​ ​Then​ ​Peter​ ​came​ ​to​ ​Jesus​ ​and​ ​asked,​ ​“Lord,​ ​how​ ​many​ ​times​ ​shall​ ​I​ ​forgave​ ​my brother​ ​or​ ​sister​ ​who​ ​has​ ​sins​ ​against​ ​me?​ ​Up​ ​to​ ​seven​ ​times?”​ ​22.​ ​Jesus​ ​answered,​ ​“I tell​ ​you,​ ​not​ ​seven​ ​times​ ​but​ ​seventy​ ​times.​ ​23.​ ​Therefore,​ ​the​ ​kingdom​ ​of​ ​heaven​ ​is​ ​like a​ ​king​ ​who​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​settle​ ​accounts​ ​with​ ​his​ ​servants.​ ​​ ​24.​ ​As​ ​he​ ​began​ ​the​ ​settlement, a​ ​man​ ​who​ ​owed​ ​him​ ​ten​ ​thousand​ ​bags​ ​of​ ​gold​ ​was​ ​brought​ ​to​ ​him.​ ​​ ​25.​ ​Since​ ​he​ ​was not​ ​able​ ​to​ ​pay,​ ​the​ ​master​ ​ordered​ ​that​ ​he​ ​and​ ​his​ ​wife​ ​and​ ​his​ ​children​ ​and​ ​all​ ​that​ ​he had​ ​be​ ​sold​ ​to​ ​repay​ ​the​ ​debt.​ ​​ ​26.​ ​“At​ ​this​ ​the​ ​servant​ ​fell​ ​on​ ​his​ ​knees​ ​before​ ​him.​ ​‘Be patient​ ​with​ ​me,’​ ​he​ ​begged,’and​ ​i​ ​will​ ​pay​ ​back​ ​everything.’​ ​​ ​27.​ ​​ ​The​ ​servant’s​ ​master took​ ​pity​ ​on​ ​him,​ ​cancelled​ ​the​ ​debt​ ​and​ ​let​ ​him​ ​go.​ ​28.​ ​“But​ ​when​ ​that​ ​servant​ ​went​ ​out, he​ ​found​ ​one​ ​of​ ​his​ ​fellow​ ​servant​ ​who​ ​owed​ ​him​ ​a​ ​hundred​ ​silver​ ​coins.​ ​​ ​He​ ​grabbed him​ ​and​ ​began​ ​to​ ​choke​ ​him.​ ​‘Pay​ ​back​ ​what​ ​you​ ​owe​ ​me!’​ ​he​ ​demanded.​ ​29.​ ​“His fellow​ ​servant​ ​fell​ ​to​ ​his​ ​knees​ ​and​ ​begged​ ​him,​ ​‘Be​ ​patient​ ​with​ ​me,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​will​ ​pay​ ​it back.’​ ​30.​ ​“But​ ​he​ ​refused.​ ​​ ​Instead,​ ​he​ ​went​ ​off​ ​and​ ​had​ ​the​ ​man​ ​thrown​ ​into​ ​prison until​ ​he​ ​could​ ​pay​ ​the​ ​debt.​ ​​ ​31.​ ​​ ​When​ ​the​ ​other​ ​servant​ ​saw​ ​what​ ​had​ ​happened,​ ​they were​ ​outraged​ ​and​ ​went​ ​and​ ​told​ ​their​ ​master​ ​everything​ ​that​ ​had​ ​happened.​ ​32.​ ​​ ​“Then the​ ​master​ ​called​ ​the​ ​servant​ ​in.​ ​‘You​ ​wicked​ ​servant,’​ ​he​ ​said,​ ​‘I​ ​cancelled​ ​all​ ​that​ ​debt of​ ​yours​ ​because​ ​you​ ​begged​ ​me​ ​to.​ ​33.​ ​​ ​Shouldn’t​ ​you​ ​have​ ​had​ ​mercy​ ​on​ ​your​ ​fellow servant​ ​just​ ​as​ ​I​ ​had​ ​on​ ​you?​ ​​ ​34.​ ​In​ ​anger​ ​his​ ​master​ ​handed​ ​him​ ​over​ ​to​ ​the​ ​jailers​ ​to be​ ​tortured,​ ​until​ ​he​ ​should​ ​pay​ ​back​ ​all​ ​he​ ​owed.​ ​​ ​35.​ ​​ ​“This​ ​is​ ​how​ ​my​ ​heavenly​ ​father will​ ​treat​ ​each​ ​of​ ​you​ ​unless​ ​you​ ​forgive​ ​your​ ​brother​ ​or​ ​sister​ ​from​ ​your​ ​heart.”

The​ ​story​ ​is​ ​told​ ​of​ ​a​ ​Christian​ ​lawyer​ ​who​ ​read​ ​his​ ​bible​ ​on​ ​a​ ​regular​ ​basis.​ ​​ ​After reading​ ​some​ ​scriptures​ ​that​ ​talk​ ​about​ ​forgiveness,​ ​he​ ​decided​ ​to​ ​forgive​ ​seventeen​ ​of his​ ​clients​ ​who​ ​owed​ ​him​ ​some​ ​money.​ ​The​ ​lawyer​ ​drafted​ ​the​ ​letters​ ​and​ ​explained​ ​the biblical​ ​basis,​ ​for​ ​sending​ ​out​ ​the​ ​letters,​ ​for​ ​the​ ​cancellation​ ​of​ ​the​ ​debts​ ​of​ ​the​ ​clients. The​ ​lawyer​ ​sent​ ​out​ ​certified​ ​letters​ ​to​ ​his​ ​clients,​ ​forgiving​ ​them​ ​of​ ​all​ ​their​ ​debts. Sixteen​ ​of​ ​the​ ​clients​ ​refused​ ​to​ ​signed​ ​the​ ​letter,​ ​fearing​ ​that​ ​the​ ​lawyer​ ​was​ ​suing​ ​them for​ ​the​ ​money​ ​they​ ​owed.​ ​One​ ​by​ ​one,​ ​the​ ​letters​ ​were​ ​returned​ ​by​ ​the​ ​postal​ ​service, unsigned,​ ​undelivered.​ ​One​ ​of​ ​them​ ​opened​ ​the​ ​letter​ ​and​ ​signed​ ​it​ ​and​ ​received​ ​the debt​ ​cancellation​ ​with​ ​great​ ​relief.​ ​​ ​In​ ​our​ ​world​ ​today,​ ​many​ ​Christians​ ​are​ ​faced​ ​with the​ ​painful​ ​decision​ ​of​ ​forgiving​ ​others​ ​who​ ​have​ ​offended​ ​them.​ ​​ ​Why​ ​is​ ​that​ ​so?​ ​​ ​Is​ ​it that​ ​forgiveness​ ​is​ ​a​ ​difficult​ ​thing​ ​to​ ​accomplish?​ ​​ ​Is​ ​there​ ​fear​ ​of​ ​reprisal​ ​from​ ​others? Do​ ​we​ ​comprise​ ​justice​ ​when​ ​we​ ​forgive?​ ​​ ​What​ ​does​ ​it​ ​mean​ ​for​ ​a​ ​person​ ​to​ ​forgive​ ​the man​ ​who​ ​took​ ​the​ ​live​ ​of​ ​a​ ​family​ ​member?​ ​Are​ ​we​ ​compromising​ ​justice​ ​and accountability?​ ​​ ​Is​ ​it​ ​because​ ​of​ ​fear,​ ​or​ ​hurt,​ ​or​ ​pain?​ ​Or​ ​are​ ​we​ ​too​ ​prideful​ ​to​ ​ask​ ​for forgiveness,​ ​when​ ​we​ ​hurt​ ​others? Forgiveness​ ​is​ ​a​ ​difficult​ ​deed​ ​to​ ​accomplish.​ ​​ ​Sometimes​, ​people​ ​who​ ​offend​ ​us​ ​have no​ ​remorse,​ ​for​ ​the​ ​hurt​ ​that​ ​they​ ​caused​ ​us.​ ​​ ​Sometimes​ ​we​ ​are​ ​fearful​ ​of​ ​the​ ​fact​ ​that people​ ​who​ ​hurt​ ​us​ ​will​ ​come​ ​again​ ​to​ ​hurt​ ​us.​ ​​ ​Pride​ ​is​ ​also​ ​a​ ​factor​ ​in​ ​people​ ​not asking​ ​for​ ​forgiveness.​ ​​ ​Give​ ​and​ ​take,​ ​God​ ​has​ ​called​ ​us​ ​to​ ​forgive​ ​those​ ​who​ ​hurt​ ​us. It​ ​is​ ​a​ ​divine​ ​command.​ ​​ ​It​ ​is​ ​important​ ​for​ ​us​ ​to​ ​listen​ ​to​ ​God’s​ ​word,​ ​and​ ​what​ ​He​ ​says about​ ​forgiving​ ​others.​ ​God​ ​is​ ​willing​ ​to​ ​cancel​ ​every​ ​debt​ ​we​ ​owe.​ ​But​ ​we​ ​refused​, ​to open​ ​the​ ​letters​ ​of​ ​scripture​ ​to​ ​us on forgiveness. ​ ​We​ ​continue​ ​to​ ​ride​ ​with​ ​the​ ​sin​ ​of​ ​unforgiveness. Let​ ​us​ ​consider​ ​this​ ​divine​ ​summon​ ​from​ ​God,​ ​to​ ​forgive,​ ​so​ ​that​ ​we​ ​can​ ​receive forgiveness​ ​ourselves.​ ​​ ​We​ ​will​ ​look​ ​at​ ​what​ ​forgiveness​ ​is,​ ​the​ ​origin​ ​of​ ​forgiveness, and​ ​the​ ​consequences​ ​of​ ​not​ ​forgiving​ ​others. In the​ ​first​ ​few​ ​chapters​ ​of​ ​the​ ​book​ ​of​ ​Amos,​ ​one​ ​can​ ​see​ ​that​ ​Jewish​ ​culture​ ​demanded that​ ​a​ ​person​ ​forgive​ ​three​ ​times.​ ​​ ​On​ ​the​ ​fourth​ ​count,​ ​a​ ​person​ ​was​ ​not​ ​forgiven.​ ​​ ​It was​ ​Rabbinic​ ​teachings,​ ​glean​ ​from​ ​the​ ​8th​ ​century​ ​prophet​ Amos, ​that​ ​a​ ​person​ ​be​ ​forgiven three​ ​times.​ ​​ ​So​ ​in​ ​the​ ​passage​ ​of​ ​scripture,​ ​Peter​ ​gets​ ​the​ ​confidence,​ ​that​ ​he​ ​would​ ​be commended,​ ​if​ ​he​ ​made​ ​that​ ​seven​ ​times.​ ​​ ​But​ ​Jesus​ ​in​ ​his​ ​answer,​ ​demanded​ ​that​ ​a person​ ​be​ ​forgiven​ ​seventy​ ​times​ ​seven.​ ​​ ​This​ ​simply​ ​tells​ ​us​ ​that​ ​there​ ​should​ ​be​ ​no limited​ ​to​ ​forgiveness.​ ​​ ​In​ ​essence,​ ​forgiveness​ ​is​ ​a​ ​big​ ​deal.​ ​​ ​What​ ​is​ ​forgiveness?
I​ ​want​ ​you​ ​to​ ​forget​ ​about​ ​every​ ​other​ ​word​ ​on​ ​your​ ​mind​ ​this​ ​morning​ ​and​ ​reflect​ ​on​ ​the word​ ​forgiveness.​ ​​ ​When​ ​we​ ​understand​ ​what​ ​forgiveness​ ​is,​ ​then​ ​we​ ​will​ ​understand what​ ​unforgiveness​ ​is. According​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Greater​ ​Good​ ​Magazine,​ ​psychologist​ ​generally​ ​define​ ​forgiveness​ ​as “a​ ​conscious,​ ​deliberate attempt,​ ​to​ ​release​ ​feelings​ ​of​ ​resentment​ ​or​ ​vengeance​ ​toward​ ​a person,​ ​or​ ​group​ ​who​ ​has​ ​harmed​ ​you,​ ​regardless​ ​of​ ​whether​ ​they​ ​actually​ ​deserve​ ​your forgiveness.”​ ​​ ​If​ ​this​ ​is​ ​true,​ ​then​ ​forgiveness​ ​means​ ​to​ ​allow​ ​ourselves​ ​to​ ​let​ ​go​ ​negative thoughts​ ​of​ ​bitterness,​ ​and​ ​resentment​ ​toward​ ​another​ ​person.​ ​​ ​It​ ​is​ ​to​ ​let​ ​go​ ​the​ ​thought to do​ ​something​ ​to​ ​someone,​ ​for​ ​what​ ​that​ ​person​ ​did​ ​to​ ​us.​ ​​ ​It​ ​does​ ​not​ ​mean​ ​to​ ​forget about​ ​what​ ​someone​ ​did​ ​to​ ​us.​ ​​ ​It​ ​does​ ​not​ ​mean​ ​that​ ​we​ ​condone​ ​it​, ​when​ ​people​ ​hurt us.​ ​​ ​As​ ​humans,​ ​we​ ​will​ ​always​ ​recall​ ​what​ ​a​ ​person​ ​did​ ​to​ ​us,​ ​but​ ​when​ ​we​ ​forgive them,​ ​we​ ​let​ ​go​ ​the​ ​bitterness.​ ​We​ ​also​ ​let​ ​go​ ​the​ ​mindset​ ​to​ ​harm​ ​the​ ​person​ ​in​ ​words, thoughts​ ​or​ ​deeds.​ ​​ ​The​ ​Greek​ ​word​ ​for​ ​forgiveness​ ​is​ ​aphesis,​ ​in​ ​English​ ​is​ ​release​ ​or let​ ​go. In​ ​1​ ​Samuel​ ​24:1-15,​ ​the​ ​record​ ​tells​ ​us​ ​that​ ​David​ ​had​ ​the​ ​opportunity​ ​to​ ​revenge, against​ ​all​ ​the​ ​wrong​ ​King​ ​Saul​ ​did​ to ​him.​ ​​ ​Saul​ ​sought​ ​to​ ​kill​ ​David,​ ​by​ ​taking​ ​three thousand​ ​of​ ​his​ ​young​ ​men.​ ​​ ​As​ ​Saul​ ​went​ ​into​ ​a​ ​cave​ ​near​ ​the​ ​sheep​ ​pens​ ​to​ ​ease himself,​ ​David​ ​had​ ​the​ ​opportunity​ ​to​ ​kill​ ​him.​ ​​ ​David​ ​did​ ​not​ ​kill​ ​Saul,​ ​but​ ​cut​ ​a​ ​piece​ ​of cloth​ ​from​ ​Saul’s​ ​robe.​ ​​ ​In​ ​verse​ ​12​ ​of​ ​1​ ​Samuel​ ​24,​ ​David​ ​told​ ​Saul,​ ​“May​ ​the​ ​Lord judge​ ​between​ ​you​ ​and​ ​me.​ ​​ ​And​ ​may​ ​the​ ​Lord​ ​avenge​ ​the​ ​wrongs​ ​you​ ​have​ ​done​ ​to me,​ ​but​ ​my​ ​hands​ ​will​ ​not​ ​touch​ ​you.”​ ​​ ​David​ ​had​ ​the​ ​chance​ ​to​ ​kill​ ​Saul,​ ​for​ ​the​ ​hurt​ ​he caused​ ​him,​ ​but​ ​David​ ​forgave​ ​Saul.​ ​​ ​David​ ​let​ ​go​ ​the​ ​bitterness,​ ​resentment,​ ​and release​ ​Saul.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​important​ ​for​ ​us​ ​Christians​ ​to​ ​learn​ ​that​ ​forgiveness​ ​is​ ​just,​ ​when​ ​we leave​ ​those​ ​who​ ​hurt​ ​us​ ​with​ ​God.​ ​​ ​David​ ​made​ ​an​ ​oath​ ​not​ ​to​ ​touch​ ​the​ ​descendants of​ ​Saul,​ ​as​ ​a​ ​sign​ ​of​ ​forgiveness.​ ​​ ​Here​ ​David​ ​realised​ ​that​ ​forgiveness​ ​comes​ ​from​ ​God, that​ ​forgiveness​ ​is​ ​a​ ​divine. In​ ​our​ ​the​ ​passage​ ​under​ ​consideration,​ ​one​ ​can​ ​see​ ​that​ ​forgiveness​ ​is​ ​divine.​ ​​ ​In​ ​this parable​ ​of​ ​the​ ​unmerciful​ ​servant,​ ​Jesus​ ​clearly​ ​points​ ​out​ ​that​ ​forgiveness​ ​is​ ​a​ ​must.​ ​​ ​In this​ ​parable,​ ​Jesus​ ​metaphorically​ ​talks​ ​about​ ​the​ ​kingdom​ ​of​ ​heaven​ ​being​ ​like​ ​a​ ​king who​ ​settles​ ​account​ ​with​ ​his​ ​servant.​ ​​ ​Forgiveness​ ​is​ ​an​ ​issue​ ​between​ ​Christian​ ​and God.​ ​​ ​God​ ​commands​ ​us​ ​to​ ​forgive​ ​because​ ​He​ ​forgave​ ​us.​ ​In​ ​verse​ ​22,​ ​Jesus​ ​tells Peter​ ​that​ ​forgiveness​ ​has​ ​no​ ​limit.​ ​​ ​In​ ​Matthew​ ​5:46,​ ​God​ ​urges​ ​us​ ​to​ ​love​ ​our​ ​enemies, and​ ​pray​ ​for​ ​those​ ​who​ ​do​ ​harm​ ​to​ ​us​.​ ​​ ​Doctor​ ​Luke​ ​says​ ​the​ ​same thing​ ​in​ ​Luke​ ​6:27-28,​ ​​ ​He​ ​urges​ ​us​ ​to​ ​love​ ​those​ ​who​ ​curse​ ​us.​ ​​ ​This​ ​is​ ​a​ ​very​ ​hard thing​ ​for​ ​us,​ ​I​ ​must​ ​assume.​ ​​ ​The​ ​core​ ​of​ ​the​ ​matter​ ​is​ ​our​ ​love​ ​for​ ​God.​ ​​ ​If​ ​we​ ​love​ ​God, we​ ​ought​ ​to​ ​do​ ​exactly​ ​what​ ​God​ ​wants​ ​us​ ​to​ ​do.​ ​​ ​God​ ​does​ ​not​ ​give​ ​us​ ​an​ ​option,​ ​when it​ ​comes​ ​to​ ​forgiving​ ​people​ ​who​ ​hurt​ ​us.​ ​​ ​God​ ​is​ ​clear​ ​on​ ​this​ ​subject.​ ​​ ​No​ ​Christian​ ​is allowed​ ​the​ ​luxury​ ​to​ ​keep​ ​grudge​ ​in​ ​his​ ​or​ ​her​ ​heart​ ​for​ ​others.​ ​​ ​God​ ​does​ ​not​ ​want​ ​us to​ ​even​ ​be​ ​angry,​ ​with​ ​the​ ​person​ ​who​ ​hurt​ ​us​ ​for​ ​a​ ​day.​ ​​ ​God​ ​does​ ​not​ ​want​ ​us​ ​to​ ​even speak​ ​evil​ ​or​ ​slander the​ ​name​ ​of​ ​the​ ​person​ ​who​ ​hurts​ ​us.​ ​​ ​Seriously?​ ​Yes,​ ​God​ ​wants us​ ​to​ ​even​ ​initiate​ ​the​ ​process​ ​of​ ​restoring​ ​all​ ​relationships​ ​that​ ​has​ ​been​ ​broken.​ ​​ ​If​ ​you will​ ​take​ ​a​ ​ride​ ​with​ ​unforgiveness,​ ​there​ ​would​ ​be​ ​consequences.​ ​​ ​In​ ​Genesis​ ​45:4-8, Joseph​ ​having​ ​endure​ ​prison​ ​and​ ​a​ ​life​ ​of​ ​slavery,​ ​forgave​ ​his​ ​brothers​, ​who​ ​had​ ​come to​ ​beg​ ​for​ ​food.​ ​​ ​How​ ​many​ ​of​ ​us​ ​today​ ​will​ ​pardon​ ​a​ ​human​ ​trafficker,​ ​who​ ​sold​ ​us​ ​into sexual​ ​slavery​ ​or​ ​forced​ ​labor?​ ​How​ ​many​ ​of​ ​us​ ​will​ ​forgive​ ​a​ ​person​ ​who​ ​took​ ​the​ ​life​ ​of our​ ​love​ ​one?​ ​​ ​But​ ​I​ ​tell​ ​you​ ​the​ ​truth,​ ​God​ ​knows​ ​who​ ​molested​ ​you,​ ​God​ ​knows​ ​who rape​ ​you,​ ​God​ ​knows​ ​who​ ​stabbed​ ​you​ ​in​ ​the​ ​back,​ ​gossip​ ​about​ ​you,​ ​robbed​ ​you.​ ​​ ​He God​ ​said​ ​in​ ​his​ ​word,​ ​that​ ​vengeance​ ​is​ ​His​ ​to​ ​repay​ ​and​ ​not​ ​ours.​ ​​ ​All​ ​God​ ​is​ ​telling us here​ ​is,​ ​“In​ ​anger​ ​do​ ​not​ ​sin.​ ​Do​ ​not​ ​let​ ​the​ ​sun​ ​go​ ​down​ ​on​ ​your​ ​wrath.”​ ​Ephesian​ ​4:26 Our​ ​inability​ ​to​ ​forgive​ ​has​ ​consequences. In​ ​verse​ ​32-35,​ ​Jesus​ ​Christ​ ​informs​ ​us,​ ​that​ ​the​ ​unmerciful​ ​servant​ ​was​ ​turned​ ​over​ ​to the​ ​jailers,​ ​who​ ​tortured​ ​him​ ​till​ ​he​ ​paid​ ​his​ ​debt.​ ​​ ​Christ​ ​likened​ ​this​ ​to​ ​how​ ​God​ ​is​ ​going to​ ​treat​ ​people​, ​who​ ​refused​ ​to​ ​forgive​ ​from​ ​their​ ​heart.​ ​​ ​In​ ​the​ ​Beatitudes,​ ​Jesus​ ​says, “Blessed​ ​are​ ​the​ ​merciful,​ ​for​ ​they​ ​shall​ ​be​ ​shown​ ​mercy.​ ​​ ​Matthew​ ​6:14-15​ ​repeats​ ​the same​ ​command​ ​from​ ​God:​ ​“For​ ​if​ ​you​ ​forgive​ ​other​ ​people​ ​when​ ​they​ ​sin​ ​against​ ​you, your​ ​heavenly​ ​father​ ​will​ ​also​ ​forgive​ ​you.​ ​​ ​But​ ​if​ ​you​ ​do​ ​not​ ​forgive​ ​others​ ​their​ ​sins,​ ​your father​ ​will​ ​not​ ​forgive​ ​your​ ​sins.”​ ​​ ​The​ ​consequences​ ​for​ ​our​ ​inability​ ​to​ ​forgive​ ​is​ ​that God​ ​is​ ​not​ ​going​ ​forgive​ ​us.​ ​​ ​It​ ​is​ ​even​ ​mentioned​ ​in​ ​scripture​ ​that​ ​before​ ​you​ ​bring​ ​your offerings​ ​to​ ​God,​ ​you​ ​must​ ​consider​ ​reconciling​ ​with​ ​people​ ​who​ ​you​ ​have​ ​quarreled​ ​with. It​ ​spells​ ​it​ ​out​ that ​people​ ​must​ ​make​ ​peace,​ ​with​ ​those​ ​with​ ​whom​ ​there​ ​is​ ​a​ ​problem,​ ​before you​ ​come​ ​to​ ​the​ ​altar.​ ​​ ​It​ ​does​ ​not​ ​only​ ​involve​ ​bring​ ​your​ ​offering,​ ​but​ ​praying​ ​to​ ​God.​ ​​ ​If we​ ​do​ ​not​ ​forgive​ ​and​ ​keep​ ​malice​ ​in​ ​our​ ​heart​ ​for​ ​someone​ ​else,​ ​God​ ​will​ ​not​ ​answer our​ ​prayers.​ ​​ ​In​ ​the​ ​resurrection​ ​narrative,​ ​Jesus​ ​Christ​ ​on​ ​the​ ​day​ ​he​ ​died​ ​on​ ​the​ ​cross, asked​ ​God​ ​to​ ​forgive​ ​the​ ​folks​ ​who were​ ​killing​ ​him.​ ​​ ​They​ ​were​ ​casting​ ​lots​ ​for​ ​Jesus’​ ​garment, while​ ​Jesus​ ​was​ ​praying​ ​for​ ​them.​ ​John​ ​23:33-34​ ​​ ​Stephen​ ​prayed​ ​for​ ​those​ ​who stoning​ ​him.​ ​He prayed, even​ ​as​ ​they​ ​were​ ​stoning​ ​him.​ ​​ ​Acts​ ​7:58-60​ ​​ ​All​ ​of​ ​these​ ​actions,​ ​shows the​ ​significance​ ​attached​ ​by​ ​Christ​ ​and​ ​the​ ​apostles,​ ​on​ ​forgiving​ ​those​ ​who​ ​hurt​ ​us. This​ ​is​ ​important​ ​because​ our ​inability​ ​to​ ​forgive​ ​can​ ​cause​ ​health​ ​issues. This​ ​is​ ​not​ ​a​ ​professional​ ​advice.​ ​​ ​It​ ​is​ ​an​ ​opinion​ ​of​ ​mine​ ​based​ ​on​ ​reading​ ​reports​ ​from researchers.​ ​​ ​According​ ​the​ ​Forgiveness​ ​Project,​ ​researchers​ ​have​ ​proven,​ ​that​ ​continue anger​ ​and​ ​hatred​ ​can​ ​cause​ ​chronic​ ​anxiety.​ ​It​ ​further​ ​explains​ ​that​ ​chronic​ ​anxiety​ ​can produce​ ​more​ ​adrenaline​ ​and​ ​cortisol​ ​the​ ​body​ ​needs.​ ​​ ​These​ ​things​ ​can​ ​deplete​ ​the natural​ ​killer​ ​cells​ ​the​ ​body​ ​needs​ ​to​ ​fight​ ​cancers.​ ​​ ​We​ ​will​ ​all​ ​agree​ ​that​ ​anger​ ​causes our​ ​blood​ ​pressure​ ​to​ ​rise.​ ​​ ​This​ ​is​ ​not​ ​healthy.​ ​​ ​It​ ​is​ ​important​ ​for​ ​us,​ ​to​ ​do​ ​away​ ​with bitterness,​ ​resentment,​ ​malice,​ ​as​ ​these​ ​things​ ​will​ ​prove​ ​bad​ ​for​ ​our​ ​health.​ ​​ ​Our inability​ ​to​ ​forgive​ ​will​ ​deprive​ ​us​ ​of​ ​blessing​ ​from​ ​God.   Church, let us be a church of forgiveness.