This Week’s Sermon: “Fostering Hope” With Jonathan Reid, Executive Director of Fostering Hope

We are privileged to have speak for us Jonathan Reid, the executive director of Fostering Hope, a non-profit organization that exists to engage and equip members of the local church community to care for children in the foster care systems of New England. We have begun a partnership with them and look forward to hearing more about how we can get involved in the vital ministry of adoption and foster care. Pray for soft and happy hearts.

Discipleship Teaching of the Week: Forgiveness

I realized recently that I have not taught enough on the topic of forgiveness in our church. It is one of the hardest and yet most important issues in the Christian life. A lack of forgiveness leads to bitterness and suffering. A lack of forgiveness leads to unnecessary division between friends and family members. A lack of forgiveness may lead to, or be a symptom of, unbelief.

What is forgiveness? Dan Allender, the Christian psychologist, says this: “Forgiveness is cancelling a debt that is owed.” Listen closely to what he is saying. On the one hand, to forgive someone is to rightly believe that what that person did was wrong. Maybe really wrong! So it is a debt. But on the other hand, no matter their sin/injustice debt, you choose to forgive them—you choose to cancel their debt owed to you.

So what does cancelling a debt look like? Tim Keller says, for example, that forgiveness means “refusing to make the person who has harmed you to pay.” So you never bring it up. You never treat them, directly or indirectly, according to your bitterness. What else? We may also say that cancelling the debt means not replaying their sin over and over in your mind and fantasizing about ways to get them back. And, even deeper ad greater than this, when you truly cancel someone’s debt, cancelling their debt will mean hoping and praying for their good.

How do you do this? Dan Allender says that there are two sides to forgiving someone. First, you need to understand that whatever sin has been done to you pales in comparison to the sin in your own heart. Second, you need to dwell on the fact that despite your grave sin, you have been forgiven.

So much more needs to be said. So check out these resources: This video with Dan Allender (and others):

This article from Tim Keller. This clip from the movie Warrior that shows a good example of the distinction between forgiveness and reconciliation. This sermon from Lon Solomon.

Lots of Links