Friday, November 18, 2011

He Helps Us to Forgive

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  Colossians 3:12-13

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Forgiveness.  Its a word we hear often.  We are encouraged to forgive others, we ask for forgiveness of our own mistakes.  But it can be difficult, can't it?  It's one thing to forgive someone for small offenses.  But what about with larger offenses?  What about someone who really hurt you or a loved one physically or emotionally?  What about your brother or sister, mom or dad, husband or wife who regularly hurts you with their words or actions?  Jesus calls us to forgive everyone, this we know.  Although He could have just given us the commandment to forgive, He was gracious enough to help us better understand why it is important to forgive in His Word.  Jesus talked with Peter, one of His disciples, about forgiveness in the book of Matthew, chapter 18.

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?"  Jesus answered "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."  Matt 18:21-22

(As a side note, I have heard through a few different sermons and teachings that regular practice during this time period was to forgive someone less than seven times, so to forgive someone up to seven times was being quite generous)

Jesus goes on to tell a parable about a servant who owed a king a debt.  The servant did not have the money, but his master, the king, chose to forgive the servant of the debt.  Despite the fact that the king had forgiven him of his debt, the servant still demanded that his fellow servant pay him back.  When the fellow servant could not, the first servant had his fellow servant thrown into prison.  When the king heard about this, he was greatly angered.

"Then the master called the servant in.  'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.  Shouldn't you also have mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?'  In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed."  Matt 18:32-34

I don't know about you, but something I tend to forget is how Jesus mentioned that it was a FELLOW servant that owed the small amount.  It is the same with us.  We all ultimately answer to our King.  Though another may hurt you (whether on purpose or not), they do not ultimately owe us anything, it is God they must face.  By forgiving someone in Jesus' name, it is as if we are transferring the problem to Him.  We allow the Lord to do with that person what he wishes.  We give up the desire that we repay them what they did to us, and we give up the belief that they owe us for what they have done to us.  It is like what is mentioned in Matthew 5:38-39:

"You have heard that it was said "eye for eye and tooth for tooth.'  But I tell you, do not resist an evil person.  If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also." 

As hard as this might seem, remember,

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is Mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.  Romans 12:19

God will handle the person that has wronged you with perfection, however He chooses to, because:

The heavens proclaim His righteousness, for God Himself is judge.  Selah.  Psalm 50:6

We  can forgive because God promises to take care of the situation.  But before you get excited at the notion of God zapping someone who hurt you with a lightening bolt, realize that God is a Righteous Judge, and He will not simply look at the one offense, but will consider everything about a person's heart when He handles the person who wronged you.  He informs Samuel  in 1 Samuel  16:7:

"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearances, but the Lord looks at the heart."

To tie this together, I will give you an example that reminds me of the very act of surrendering a problem like this to God.  I visited the hospital earlier this year, thankfully for something minor.  Also, thankfully, I did not come out with a hefty bill, but I did still owe the hospital more money than I could pay at one time.  So for awhile I was paying the hospital a monthly payment, but it was messy.  I had to call to make a payment (there was no way to pay it online).  And I could not always reach the one person that handled the patient bills.  But, since hospitals are not primarily known for being money handlers, they transferred my case to a bank, releasing themselves from the debt I owed them directly.  And the bank, being better equipped for handling money than the hospital, was able to negotiate with me an easy payment plan that I could pay online each month.  No longer does the hospital have to worry about me, they can simply continue to do what they are here to do.  And this is because they transferred the "problem" to someone that is qualified to handle it.

Not only does God take the problem for us, but He also promises us forgiveness when we forgive others.  When we do not forgive others, we are setting ourselves up for pain.  Do you know someone that is trapped in a state of anger and bitterness because of something someone else did to them?  Have you ever experienced this yourself?  It's a horrible prison to be in, isn't it?  Many people have come to believe that they are doing the best thing by holding a grudge against someone that offends them.  I know I believed this for most.  Perhaps you believe this also. Please believe me when I tell you, I understand the desire to not forgive.  But PLEASE believe me when I also tell you, the belief, feeling or desire to not forgive someone is nothing but a lie from the enemy.  I promise, forgiving someone opens your heart to receive life, the life promised to you by God.  Not forgiving someone sentences your heart to pain.  I don't want you to continue to believe the lie.  The very best thing we can do is to release it to our Loving Jesus.  Jesus even mentions the forgiveness we will receive from the Father when we forgive others in the prayer He teaches the disciples to pray:

So He said the them, "When you pray, say: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us day by day our daily bread.  And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.  And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'"  Luke 11:1
(Emphasis mine)
But how can you tell from this one verse that He will forgive me if I forgive others?  Because He also says:

"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  for everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  If a son ask for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?  or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"  Luke 11:9-13

If you are struggling with forgiveness, I recommend coming before the Lord and asking Him to help you to forgive.  And when you have, ask Him to forgive you also.  Once you have done this, enjoy the peace He promised you!

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  John 14:27

I encourage you to look up each of the passages mentioned in this post yourself.  I promise you, it can be life altering if you open your heart to the Words of God.

In Him,


Song: Forgiven by Sanctus Real

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