I Samuel 25:30-31a
No Regrets: Forgiveness
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

From the Bible: I Samuel 25:30-31a, Mark 8:36, Exodus 16:8

When King Saul outlawed David and his men, the fugitives fled to Paran Wilderness. After David voluntarily provided protection for local shepherds, he asked wealthy Nabal to share from the wealth David’s men had helped protect.

Nabal was rich, rude, and stupid. Rather than thank and reward David, he insulted him. Infuriated, David and his men headed to kill Nabal’s household, but were intercepted by Nabal’s wife, who had heard of her husband’s insolence.

To prevent the massacre, Abigail brought lavish provisions to David. Falling facedown, she eloquently pleaded for David to show mercy, climaxing her plea with the argument in our text.

I Samuel 25:30-31a (Holman) “When the Lord does for my lord all the good He promised and appoints you ruler over Israel, there will not be remorse or a troubled conscience for my lord because of needless bloodshed or my lord’s revenge.”

“There will not be remorse,” Abigail said. No regrets is a powerful motivator. Abigail knew it would speak to David. It also speaks to us.

As we journey through life, we want to feel no regrets, especially at the end. No regrets toward God, no regrets toward others, no regrets toward ourselves.

Over the next few Sundays, we will examine our lives to determine if we are harboring anything we have cause to regret. No believer has to go through life dragging a bag of regrets. Life’s load is heavy enough without extra burdens.

This sermon focuses on regrets rising from failures in the area of forgiveness. Regret number one. Not letting God forgive us. This will, if not reversed, forevermore be our biggest regret.

If we have not let God forgive us, an eternity apart from God looms before us. Jesus asked, “What does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life?” (Mark 8:36). What good will it do to gain everything we want in life only to lose life itself in the end?

Being unforgiven by God means lostness for not only us, but also for those we could have won to Jesus, had we been forgiven. Don’t add to your load the burden of another person’s eternal separation from God. Live life with no regrets.

Regret number two. Not forgiving God. Are we bitter about something in our life? Has life not turned out the way we expected? We may not think we are angry with God when we are in a foul mood. But whether we know it or not, if we are upset at life, we are upset with the Lord of life.

Israel had to be taught this. In the wilderness they grumbled and complained. To say they were out of sorts would be an understatement. Moses and Aaron were the at-hand objects of their murmuring, but Moses jerked the Israelites to reality. “Who are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord” (Exodus 16:8b). Let’s get over our bad moods. Our foul dispositions are sin.

Everyone wonders “Why?” at times. Ultimate answers elude us. Much we don’t know. We have to retreat into God’s love, knowing He loves us more than we love ourselves. He proved His love at Calvary. Live life with no regrets.

Regret number three. Not forgiving ourselves. Guilt is a huge load. We can lay this burden down. It’s part of our birthright as God’s children.

A part of receiving God’s forgiveness is believing we can be forgiven. Philip Yancey said his brother “tried Christianity and decided it didn’t work for him. At some level he believed himself cursed by God, unpardonably.”

We are usually quick to extend grace to others when they sin. We should extend grace to ourselves. It’s just as wrong to refuse God’s forgiveness as it is to presume on God’s forgiveness. Live life with no regrets. Forgive yourself.

Regret number four. Not forgiving others. Is there anyone who, when we see them, we try to hide? Always keep our relationship bank accounts up to date.

I try to call church members who leave our church. They need to know Pastor feels no ill will toward them. Next time I see them I want to be able to greet them warmly, without any hesitation. (Please don’t leave our church in order to receive a telephone call from me; it can be arranged in other, better ways.)

I thought all was well on this score in my life, but at the Southern Baptist Convention, I saw a man, and immediately ducked to not have to speak to him. I was smitten to the deepest depths of my soul. I thought I was better than this.

It’s a story ten years old. I was on a committee that made a hard call against him. I had forgotten the incident, and him, until I saw him.

Ten years ago, the committee I served with made the correct, though difficult, call. My decision was right. My follow-up was wrong. I never took time to contact a brother I wounded.

I intend to right this wrong before this sermon series ends. What regrets will you make right in this series?

Sometimes we try to dodge our duty to forgive others by saying the falling-out wasn’t our fault. This argument is not valid.

The Bible doesn’t let lack of blame excuse us from not seeking forgiveness. Guilt or innocence is not the issue. The objective is forgiveness, not blame.

If we seek peace only when the breakdown is our fault, we are living by a standard no higher than most unbelievers live by. Anytime a Christian’s ethic rises no higher than an unbeliever’s, something is wrong.

Some try to justify their refusal to forgive others by saying the wrong done against them was too terrible to forgive. They say it’s impossible to forgive, implying God’s command is too strict, too hard to obey in their case.

This won’t hold water. Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Any unforgiveness in us can be traced to a spiritual failure on our part, to not letting Jesus live His life through us.

Forgiving others in what appear to be impossible situations has ever been a trait of Christ-followers. Dr. Robert Wick, in his book “God’s Invasion,” tells how forgiveness was vital to mission work in Irian Jaya (Eastern Indonesia).

Nationals murdered the son of a missionary couple, the Paksoals. Years later Rev. Paksoal returned to the area to examine baptismal candidates. He met one of the murderers of his son. The new convert was terrified to see the missionary, but “a wave of divine love surged over Rev. Paksoal as he forgave the man.” The missionary baptized his son’s murderer, now his brother in Christ (page 63).

The same time the Paksoal boy was murdered, eight-year-old Jan Lesmussa lost both his parents to the killers. As an adult, after graduating from seminary, he felt called to replace his parents in West Irian. One day a new convert gave Jan two arrows, saying they were the ones used to kill his parents. Jan forgave him (page 64).

Tough forgiveness became a trait missionaries looked for in new believers in Irian Jaya. One way they knew conversions were genuine was when converts began praying for those who had killed members of their immediate families (page 113). We can forgive, however deep the hurt.

Christian grace is needed not only in seeking forgiveness from others, but also in extending it to others. If someone comes to us to apologize and seek forgiveness, receive their request graciously. Don’t lash out, laugh, or make light of the moment. Receive their proffered olive leaf. Say “Thank you. All is well in me, I’m glad you shared this with me. Let’s leave this behind us, and go on from here.”

Do not try to reconstruct or re-visit the event that caused the division. This may resurrect disagreement and harsh memories. Let bygones be bygones, let sleeping dogs lie, bury the hatchet. Even lost people live by these proverbs. Let’s at least do as well as they do, and then take it up a notch.

No regrets. Let God forgive us. Forgive God. Forgive ourselves. Forgive others.