Going Deeper with the Message:
by: Andrew Archer
I’m a huge sports fan. Basketball and football are my two favorites. In sports, there is a term that refers only to those who make a great impact on their game—game changer. Merriam Webster defines “game changer” as a newly introduced element or factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way.
Steph Curry, point guard for the Golden State Warriors, is perhaps the biggest game changer in all of recent sports history. Steph is the greatest shooter of all time—and it isn’t close. He does things that none of the other great shooters before him could dream of doing. He has broken many records, won MVPs and scoring titles, and led his team to championships. He not only significantly changes any individual game that he is in, he has completely changed the game of basketball.
Before Steph Curry, the game of basketball was played much differently. Teams were focused on playing through their big men down low, allowing their athletes to drive to the basket, and getting open jump shots to the one or two guys on their team who can shoot. You had players who could often excel at only one of those things. However, since Steph Curry has changed the game, almost every player on the court can shoot. They have to in order to keep up. This trend is going to continue, and it’s all thanks to Steph Curry.
I think we all have the opportunity to be game changers. Not in basketball, but in life. So often when someone is wronged, what follows is a downward spiral that lacks forgiveness and is full of bitterness. All of this eventually leads to more pain and brokenness. Life doesn’t have to be like that. Our relationships don’t have to be like that. In Romans 12, Paul advises us to stop living this way, to change the game. He says:
If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord. But
If your enemy is hungry, feed him.
If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
For in so doing
you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.
Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.
We have the opportunity to change the game in our relationships by doing what Paul says. Conquer evil with good. We do that by choosing forgiveness and not taking vengeance into our own hands. We understand that, because God is sovereign and just, we can let go of the bitterness that is only hurting us. Let’s change the game with forgiveness.
Living out the Message:
By Barb Barnhart, Preschool Coordinator
“Tickets! Get your forgiveness tickets here! I only have so many and give them out sparingly.”
We live in a society that keeps track of the times one is forgiven. “Here is your ticket that states you have been forgiven.” The one forgiven doesn’t necessarily keep track of their forgiveness tickets but those that dole out forgiveness often keep track of the tickets given away.
As believers, we have a different standard by which we live. In Colossians 3:12-13, the Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.” Often, we look at the lists in scripture and find ourselves checking off the characteristics we do well. I find myself checking off each attribute. I can do that—check!
“Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion (check), kindness (check), humility (check), gentleness (check), and patience (I taught kindergarten—of course, check!),
Then Paul moves onto the next verse, and suddenly the check marks are more difficult to make.
Accepting one another (maybe I can do a half of a check) and forgiving one another (this one gets me every time)….
Forgiveness is hard to do! We are able to come up with so many reasons not to forgive. We can add reason after reason as to why not to forgive, but we must come back to the reality that we forgive because we are recipients of God’s forgiveness.
The next problem with forgiveness is seen in Matthew 18:21-22, as Peter asks the question, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times? ‘I tell you, not as many as seven,’ Jesus said to him, ‘but seventy times seven.’” I can see Peter thinking that he was a top notch “forgiver.” He was willing to forgive a person seven times. Jesus’ reply must have knocked the wind out of Peter—seventy times seven.
As believers, we are to never stop forgiving. This task is humanly impossible. How are we to do this? The apostles show us the way in Luke 17:5, “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’” Here is our answer! Not only are we freely forgiven by the Lord, He gives us the faith that is needed to forgive.
“Forgiveness is the best thing and the right thing to do!” So, put away your forgiveness tickets and little forgiveness tally notebooks and FORGIVE!