Theme: Toy Box #2 – Chalkboard (Sunday 6 Sept, 2020)
Series: Life Lessons from the Toy Box
Bible Reading: 1 John 1:1-9
Preacher: Rev Phil Swain
We continue our sermon series looking at profound Biblical principles and promises that we can learn from our childhood toys. This week Phil borrows the Playgroups chalkboard for a sermon about forgiveness.
Today I want to talk about a word – Forgiveness. The idea that sometimes we, sometimes on purpose but more often accidently, do something or say something (or not do something) that hurts another person. And this hurt can cause a fracture in the relationship that can only be restored through forgiveness.
And to talk about forgiveness … Today I have borrowed a few items from our Church playgroup for today’s talk … in a sense it is a talk from the Playgroup toy box!
It is a chalk board.
Did you have a chalkboard when you were a kid? Or played with chalk? I don’t think that any of you are old enough to have used slate boards at school … but it is a similar idea.
Kids love drawing with chalk.
Do you like my drawing … it is of a scene in the country with trees, a river and a building and
Drat it … I have made a mistake. How did I manage to much that up. What can I do?
Fortunately with a chalk board there is an easy way to fix mistakes or to get rid of anything that you don’t want there.
A duster! We can just clear the chalk off and start again!
Believe it or not, God offers us something a bit like chalk duster for our spiritual muck ups too. You see God has given us some advice, some rules, some guidelines for living which will lead us to a life full of blessings and life.
But we don’t always live up to God’s standards. Sometimes we decide to follow our own ideas rather than God’s way. The bible calls this sin and the Apostle Paul admits that none of us are perfect when it comes to living God’s way. In Romans 3:23 Paul says that we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.
So … if a chalk duster can fix the mistakes I made on a chalk board … how do we begin to address the spiritual mistakes? What can help us deal with our sin?
That is where our bible reading came in. In verse 9 in our bible reading we read, “If we confess our sins, [if we admit we have mucked up and ask God for help] God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness … God can take away the mistakes and give us a clean slate … so to speak … a fresh start. As God in Isaiah 43:25 says “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake; And I will not remember your sins”
This is the good news! Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, God can offer us forgiveness, cleansing for our sins and new life to move forward!
When we confess our sins – our sins are forgiven!
God has wiped them away. Thanks be to God
Now this would be a great spot to end the sermon here. It is simple, hopeful, life changing truth. But there is a catch. Not in the way that God will forgive us … no, that is as simple as it sounds. If we confess our sins God is faithful and just and will forgive our sins. That is clear … but there is a catch on our side.
Three things that we need to be careful when it comes to forgiveness.
The first is found in our bible reading for today. John writes in verse 8 … if we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. What is John talking about here?
I remember reading this as a young person and getting really worried because I couldn’t think of any sins that I had done since the last time I had confessed … but if I can’t think of any then John said I was deceiving myself? Is that what this is about?
No … I think John is asking the question … where do we turn when we inevitably do sin. Some people fall into the trap of trying to solve the problem themselves. Like drawing over the mistake to try and make it something else. But you can’t do that … this is trying to cover up or mask our sins … and when we do that and pretend we have no sins, then we ARE deceiving ourselves.
John wants us to release, that although we are not sinning all the time, when we do – our first stop should be God, because it is only when we confess our sins to God that God can cleanse us from all our unrighteousness and give us that clean start we need.
The second catch we need to be careful of is not in our bible reading but rather is a warning from Jesus himself. Jesus said that if have been forgiven, then you too must also be forgiving to others who have wronged you. It literally is a line in the Lord’s prayer. “Forgive us our sins and we forgive those who have sinned against us”.
And this can be difficult. You see, when it comes to us forgiving those people who have wronged us – we do not naturally warm to the idea. When someone has hurt us, really hurt us, it is hard to forgive.
There are no easy answers here. It is hard to forgive but I believe that God can help us in this journey towards forgiveness. Two pieces of wisdom that I have heard on this topic are:
- Forgiving someone is not saying that what they did was ok. No, what they did was wrong and will always be wrong … forgiving just means that you can close the chapter and move forward without it impacting on your relationship with the other person.
- When you have been really hurt … sometimes true forgiveness can take some time. It is possible to forgive someone a little, and then a little more and then a little more until you realise that you have moved on. As long as your intention is to forgive, the length of the journey is less critical.
But Jesus is clear. Jesus wants us to forgive others in the same way as God forgives us. Forgiveness does require some grace on all sides.
And the last catch is that sometimes we can accept that God will forgive us, and even we can forgive other people … but we struggle to forgive ourselves.
I have met so many people who are “bound” by things they have done in the past. They are so weighed down with guilt that they struggle to experience “life in all its fullness”. There is not easy answer for this but if you are struggling to forgive yourself I hope that you have heard the good news of today – with God’s help you can find a way to move on. Or in the imagery of our bible reading, you can step out of the shadow of the past and into the light of a different future.
So – in summary …
At some point in life, we have all mucked something up – maybe something small or something big. And maybe we have tried to draw over it, cover it up, disguise it … but it doesn’t work. We need to God’s spiritual chalk duster to come along, to cleanse us from our sins and give us that fresh start.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. BUT If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
It is my prayer that we all experience this forgiveness and grace in our lives. Amen.