Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Way of Forgiveness

Saw a post recently that troubled my spirit quite a bit.  It was about forgiveness and how some see it.  It wasn’t the Truth though, because it wasn’t based on the Word, but on what somebody said.  What is truth?  Jesus said, “Thy Word is Truth.”  The Word of God is Truth.  Anything else is just that… anything else.

We have to understand that forgiveness is not something that mostly benefits the other person, it benefits us more than we know.  Unforgiveness hurts you.  If you refuse to forgive someone, they may hurt momentarily by your refusal, but you are the one hurt in the end, and even more so.  Because God requires YOU to forgive.  He doesn’t ask you.  He is not trying to coax you.  He is not comforting you.  And in some cases, well based on the Word, in most cases, God is not even HEARING you.

The Word says in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.   But if you DO NOT forgive others their sins, your Father WILL NOT forgive your sins.”  Hear this, if YOU forgive, then God forgives.  If you DON’T forgive, then God DOESN’T forgive you.  These Words are in red, which means they came from the very mouth of Jesus.

In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus said the way we ought to pray is this, “And forgive us our debts, AS WE also forgive OUR debtors.”  (Matthew 6:12).  Then in Colossians 3:12-13 it says as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and FORGIVE one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. FORGIVE AS the Lord forgave YOU.  Continuing in Ephesians it says, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you (v. 31-32 NLT).

Sounds like we don’t have a choice in the matter.  We are to FORGIVE AS the Lord forgives us.  God doesn’t wait to forgive us.  It’s instant.  As many times as we break His heart, He forgives us.  He is not waiting until we are ready to be forgiven.  He is not waiting until HE IS ready to forgive us.  This is our example, and this is what we must follow.  Ready or not.

In the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35) Peter asks the question how many times must we forgive?  And Jesus says, 70 times 7, which is at least 490 times.  So unless you have forgiven someone 490 times, you still need to forgive.  But Jesus goes on to tell the story about how the servant begged to be forgiven of his debts and he was forgiven by his master.  But then the servant had someone under him to come and ask of forgiveness and the servant refused to forgive him.  And the master returned to find this situation and the servant was tortured until he forgave.  At the end of the Scripture text, Jesus says “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you UNLESS YOU FORGIVE your brother or sister from your heart.”

This is us.  We are the servants.  God is the Master.  We constantly not only ask Him to forgive us but expect Him to forgive us and He does.  But when we as the servant have been wronged by others, we want to throw people in the dungeon and make them pay endlessly for what they have done.  These things should not be.  God forgives you.  You need to forgive others.  

We wonder why things are not exactly the way we want them to be.  Why we just can’t seem to get over certain hurdles.  Unforgiveness could very well be the thing that is keeping you back from receiving.  If you are praying and asking with unforgiveness in your heart, God is not hearing you.  He is practically saying to you, “Talk to the hand.” 

In Mark 11:25-26, Jesus said, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.”  But then He adds this, “AND when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, FORGIVE them, so that your Father in heaven may FORGIVE YOU your sins.”  Jesus said, “and when you stand praying” so if you ARE praying and if you have unforgiveness in your heart, you cannot expect for the mountain to move. 

IF you are praying God requires that you forgive.  So if you are not forgiving as you pray, you cannot expect to receive.  In other words you have no reasonable expectation to ask anything of God and should you ask of it, God is not even hearing your prayer for that or anything else, if you have not forgiven. 

It really is that simple.  Simple faith.  That is what Jesus told Peter.  If he had mustard seed (child-like) faith, he could remove the mountain.  But faith works by love.  And your faith will not work if love isn’t involved.  And in this case, that love is forgiveness.  Whether they say sorry or not. 

When Jesus was on the cross between the two thieves, those people making fun of him and those that put Him on the cross, never asked for forgiveness.  But Jesus on His deathbed, asked of His Father, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”  Jesus forgave us long before we even did anything.  Is it really too much for Him to ask of you to forgive? 

When Stephen was in the process of being stoned, killed for believing in Christ, the Bible says he looked up to heaven seeing the glory of God and said, “Do not lay this charge at their feet.”  What was he saying, forgive them.  But you know what he forgave them first.  And they were not asking.  Still too much to ask of you?

And then Jesus says this, (for those who still refuse to get it), if your brother/sister repents, you ought to forgive them.  Luke 17:3-4, Take heed to yourselves: If your brother/sister sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.  And if he sins against you seven more times in a day, and seven times in a day turns to you again, saying, ‘Forgive me; you are to forgive him.”  There are no excuses why we cannot forgive, other than we just don’t want to.  And you know what, that is not good enough for God.  He not only requires it of you, He commands it from you.

God shared two things with me recently.  One I was reminded of that I might have seen or heard, "Forgiveness is accepting an apology that was not given."  The second He spoke to me personally, "Forgiveness is being able to apologize for something you did not do." 

So if I have stepped on your toes today, forgive me.  If I have already done something to you and you forgave me for that, forgive me again.  For your Father in heaven says, “Forgive and you shall be forgiven.  If you do not forgive, neither will I forgive you.”

That’s the way it works.

God is real.

From a “forgiven” and “forgiving” servant of the Lord,
Sis. E