Every tongue will acknowledge God


Church buildings can open for public worship now, but I will continue to send a short reflection, for those of you who must continue to ‘shield’. It will be based on the topic of the Sunday Sermon, but not a transcript of it.

Let me know if you want a full transcript and I’ll get one to you.


SUNDAY 13 September 2020


Romans 14.1-12

1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarrelling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister?[a] Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:

‘“As surely as I live,” says the Lord,
“Every knee will bow before me;
    every tongue will acknowledge God.”’[b]

12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

This is the Word of the Lord.  Thanks be to God.


Matthew 18.21-35

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to MATTHEW

Glory to you, O Lord.

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ 22 Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven 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[h] 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 servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] 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 servants 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.’

This is the Gospel of the Lord.  Praise to you, O Christ.

Our Gospel reading today seems to bring us again to the topic of DEBT!


When Peter asks Jesus how many times a brother or sister is to be forgiven, Jesus insists that forgiving someone seven times is not adequate. The offending member must be forgiven SEVENTY-SEVEN times. The number seems staggering but communicates clearly that forgiveness is to be an essential part of Christian communal life.


Jesus then illustrates his point by telling this rather chilling story of a king who is owed a debt by his slaves. At the time when the king expects to be paid, one slave is not able to pay, and as a result is to be sold along with his wife and children. The man pleads with the king asking to be given more time. The king has mercy on him and forgives the debt completely. Then the slave who has been forgiven his debt does not extend the same mercy to a fellow slave who owes him a debt.


The slave’s behaviour seems to make a complete mockery of the compassion and forgiveness that his master has shown to him.


Perhaps our own reluctance to forgive others when they have wronged us, is caused by a failure to understand the depth of our own forgiveness by God!


We condemn others because of our own lack of understanding of our own “forgiven-ness”.  Perhaps we want to feel that others are worse than we are and therefore less deserving than we are. It is as if, the more I condemn you, the more acceptable I become in my own eyes, because in my heart of hearts I believe that I am unforgivable.

When we have that attitude, our love for others becomes stunted and distorted.


Many people feel uncomfortable at the idea of a universal reconciliation, that is, the idea that God will redeem the whole of creation. The debate will doubtless continue, as it has for centuries, but whatever our position, I think we can all agree that it is not ours to judge – that belongs to God alone.


In our attitudes to others here in our earthly life, all we need to know it that when we cannot find it in our hearts to forgive others, we place ourselves in a prison of our own making.

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