This post is taken from a recent sermon on our “Spiritual Sicknesses Series.”
Memory-related diseases are hard to watch. Alzheimer’s and dementia rob our loved ones of their memories and even their personalities. As the memories erode, we find ourselves frustrated by trying to deal with the shell of a person we once knew.
What happens when we become spiritually forgetful?
It could happen in a couple of ways.
- Sometimes it happens through trauma. Like in the movies when somebody gets bonked on the head and ends up forgetting who they are. Have you ever met someone who was doing pretty well until they experienced loss or pain…and then they forgot everything they once knew?
- Sometimes it happens slowly, like Alzheimer’s. The plaque of life builds up in our brains, and what once was fresh now is buried under layers of dust. Without a little cleaning, it becomes out-of-sight, out-of-mind and inaccessible to us.
Either way, the outcome is similar. We can sing “Jesus Loves Me” for years until we can sing it without thinking about it. And then we find that we’re not thinking about it at all!
2 Peter 1:3-4 describes some of the great things that God has done. He has given us what we need. He has called us to his glory. He has promised us us “precious” and “very great” promise. He made us partakers of the divine. He let us escape corruption. And based on all that stuff, verses 5 and following describe how we continue in the journey God started us on. We call the list that follows the Christian Graces.
After these descriptions of the beautiful things that we focus on as Christ-followers, Peter tells us: make sure you pay attention to these things. If you don’t have these things, you have forgotten your forgiveness.
What happens when you forget your forgiveness?
Peter says that it causes your life to be a jumbled mess of anything but godliness.
He says it keeps you from being useful or effective servants.
He says it makes you blind to what God has done!
I’d sum up what he writes by saying: if you forget your forgiveness, you will get spiritually stuck.
But that’s not the only consequence. People who forget forgiveness usually turn into self-righteous jerks!
(I really wanted to use a good theological word here…but “jerks” is just too accuate!)
Remember Luke 15 and the Prodigal Son? His older brother’s problem was that he forgot that he needed forgiveness. He forgot that his little brother needed it, too.
Matthew 18 is a time when the disciples ask Jesus how many times they have to forgive. Jesus could have countered by simply saying, “How many times do you want to be forgiven?” But he didn’t. Instead he told them a story about two debtors. The one owed a lot; the other owned a little. The guy who owed a hopelessly large debt had it forgiven. But when the man who owed a fraction of percentage point as much came to him, there was no mercy. He forgot that he once needed forgiveness, too.
Luke 7 has almost the same story line, but Jesus asks a simple question: “Who will love him the most?” The answer is the one who was forgiven most.
There’s one more consequence of forgetting forgiveness: you never can feel saved. If you forget that you were forgiven, you never can know how you stand with God.
So here’s the point of the lesson: don’t forget forgiveness!