Pastor calls for forgiveness for absent dads ahead of Father’s Day
As Americans prepare to celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, a young adult ministry official encourages Christians to forgive their absent fathers and those who have done wrong in their lives.
David Marvin, pastor of Watermark Community Church in Dallas, Texas, gave a sermon Tuesday entitled “How to forgive” in front of the group of young adults of the church, the porchserving thousands of young adults through live memberships with 15 churches in 10 states.
“Christians are not called to have only the title of Christians, but the lifestyle of Christians. And Jesus repeated over and over: ‘If you follow me, you will forgive people.’ And I know represented in this room, there is a lot of pain,” Marvin preached.
“When we talked about Father’s Day a second ago, it’s not a day of celebration. It’s a day that reminds you of what you didn’t have or the terrible father you had. …God wants you to experience the healing that happens when you decide to forgive, which is why He commands it again and again.”
He assured that forgiveness can change the trajectory of someone’s life.
Marvin, who has been on the Watermark staff for more than a decade and holds a master’s degree in biblical studies from Dallas Theological Seminary, said many people don’t know what steps are needed to forgive. He thinks there is a lot of misinformation about forgiveness, noting that “forgiveness is not forgetting”.
“If anything, you have to remember to forgive someone. Forgiveness isn’t excusing what happened. It’s not pretending, ‘man, it didn’t matter when they abused me.’ It was huge. But you are always called to forgive,” Marvin preached.
“Forgiveness is not minimizing or minimizing it. The sin that happened against you was so bad that Jesus had to come to the cross and die. Forgiveness is not restoring a relationship. in other words, you can forgive someone, which doesn’t make you best friends, but it’s an order.
He emphasized that “forgiveness is not fair” and outlined three steps to follow.
know what to forgive
The first step in forgiveness, Marvin said, is to “identify what to forgive.”
“It’s a really hard thing to forgive or release the need for repayment, to release this debt that was created if I don’t know what was taken,” he explained. “In other words, I can’t forgive you for what you stole from my house if I don’t know what you stole from me.”
Marvin said many never process what others have done to hurt them, which can block the process of forgiving those who hurt them.
“Cancelling that debt involves identifying what has been taken. … Whenever someone has hurt you, sinned against you, been neglected, abandoned, abused, sinned; there is the fact that that happened, and then there’s the impact it had, … and the fact of what was taken,” Marvin said.
“What do I mean by that? That every time someone has sinned against you or me, there’s a debt that’s created. And part of how we forgive is by looking at it in eyes and saying, ‘This is what was taken and I don’t blame you anymore.'”
Marvin offered himself as an example, speaking of the resentment he used to have against his father for being largely absent from his life growing up.
“We would see each other over the holidays, and my siblings would drive across town twice a month due to custody orders, and we would see him in this tiny little apartment,” the pastor explained. “And I realized that I had a real hurt. And someone gave me the teaching of forgiveness. It’s really hard to forgive someone if you don’t know what’s gotten into you .”
Years ago, Marvin started writing a journal to chronicle the various things his father “took” from him growing up.
“You took me having a dad at home. You took me having a dad who shows up at sporting events,” Marvin recounted.
“You took away my ability to see what God’s plan for marriage was supposed to look like. You took me every other Monday night where I had to drive across town and go to this apartment. You took me taken to have a father close to my home. my life.'”
Forgiveness is a decision that must be made, Marvin said, referring to Ephesians 4:31. The verse reads: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, fights and slander, and all forms of wickedness.”
The second step on the path to forgiveness and “by far the hardest,” Marvin said, is making the decision to “let go” of the debt and turn it over to God.
“Maybe it was the fact that you grew up in a broken home like me, and that led to brokenness in your life…it’s not your fault and you didn’t ask for it,” Marvin said.
“But if you’re going to forgive and experience healing, you have to make the decision, ‘I’m going to identify what was taken because I can’t release that debt if I don’t know what it is. ‘”
Marvin emphasized that “forgiveness is a leap of faith” and warned of the potential consequences of not forgiving.
“To say to God, ‘I choose not to forgive this person,’ is to say, ‘the eternal torment of Hell is not enough for the pain it has created.’ Or if they are believers, it is to say to God, “the death of your and only Son Jesus on the cross, it can be enough for you God, it is not enough for me. And they have to pay. And however I can make them pay by how I treat them, or how I avoid them, or how I refuse to forgive them, I’m going to do that,” Marvin said.
“God says, ‘the forgiven forgive people.’ We forgive because we have been forgiven….God’s grace does not just flow to us and His forgiveness does not just flow to us.It must flow through us and how we interact with others.
The third step to forgiveness, Marvin said, is “choosing to forgive daily.”
Marvin discussed the Lord’s Prayer, which includes the part that says, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”, which is also translated as “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have offended”.
“Forgiveness is a medicine that you will have to take for the rest of your life,” Marvin said. “Will holding on to that bitterness help you? Jesus said, ‘No.’ It will harm you and your future.”