For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15)
We enjoy reading about Jesus holding children in His lap. We love stories of His great power in feeding five thousand people from a little boy’s lunch and stopping a raging storm in the ocean with a wave of His hand.
We love the story of His crucifixion and how it turned dark for three hours; the earthquake that opened the graves in Jerusalem and brought the ultimate confession from a seasoned Roman soldier and in fear, the other tough soldiers who were with him concurred: “Truly this was the Son of God!” Yes, they ALL feared and agreed: they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
We love to hear about the 60’ veil in the Temple ripping from top to bottom and how the priests who were in the room apparently spread the word and a great company of priests turned to Jesus as their promised Messiah. We love to hear how He rose from the dead as He said He would and as the Scriptures prophesied. We love to hear about the many dead people who came out of their graves and appeared unto many. We love to hear about the things written in Matthew 28 and how the Roman Government and the Temple hierarchy couldn’t keep it bottled up.
We love to hear about Jesus forgiving His enemies who nailed Him to the cross. But, one thing we seem to have trouble with, and that is forgiving people who cross us. If we can maintain a grudge against someone who has wronged us, we have absolute power over that person. If we forgive, then we relinquish the power we have over him or her. In that sense, it is expensive to forgive. We are reduced.
I must assume that Christians mean well in dealing with forgiveness but that we sometimes have difficulty in carrying it out. It would be hard to be falsely accused and to remain silent as Jesus did when He stood before pilot. It would be hard to be nailed to a cross and to look down on our attackers and pray for the Lord to forgive them for they know not what they do.
The Apostle Paul didn’t do so well when the High Priest told someone standing nearby to slap him. And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? (Act 23:2-3)
Jesus made it plain: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15) Sometimes the disciples were amazed at Jesus’ plain speech. At least once or twice they called it to His attention that He had just offended some people who were in the crowd. This is plain speech. If we hold a grudge against someone, our Heavenly Father will not forgive us of our sins. This means two things: 1. If an unsaved person will not forgive someone their sins, he cannot be saved. 2. If a Christian will not forgive someone of their sin, then as a Christian there is a wall between us and God and He will not hear our prayers until we forgive. There’s no need to spin an elaborate theology around this. It simply means what it says.
Joseph Scriven’s much-loved hymn says: “Oh, what peace we often forfeit; Oh, what needless pain we bear; all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.” He continues: “Are we weak and heavy-laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge; Take it to the Lord in prayer.” Do we really want to forfeit His presence in our lives so we can hold on to a grudge?
The disciples lived in a Jewish culture that had trouble forgiving people. Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (Mat 18:21-22) But doesn’t that run it into the ground, forgiving a man 490 times? We may think so, but Jesus said to keep on forgiving.
It is God’s will and should be our will to be reconciled with estranged people. But, that is not always possible. I may not be able to be reconciled with an offended person but I can certainly fix my rotten attitude. Sometimes the problem may be with someone who has died and talking it over is not possible. But, I can forgive, by God’s help.
There are thousands of women whose fathers molested them when they young. They are scarred for life. To have peace, they must forgive. I have met some of these people in counseling. Smiling and singing are not the same thing as forgiving and letting it go. It may be a process that involves some time. It may not be possible to forgive in a moment of time. But, it must be done. Oftentimes the act against someone is buried deeply. It has become a root of bitterness. Still, it must be forgiven.
Corrie ten Boom and her sister and father were imprisoned by the NAZI’s. Her father and sister died in prison and Corrie survived. One day she was addressing a group of people on forgiveness. We Christians should forgive. At the close a man came by and shook her hand and asked her if it included him. He was one of the prison guards who had treated her and all the others so cruelly. She had a split-second to think it over. Could she forgive this monster? She knew she had it to do and she told him she would forgive him. Such an expensive thing to do, to forgive this cruel man.
Paul told the Ephesian Christians: And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (Eph 4:30-32)
When he puts it this way, we don’t have a leg to stand on. God, for Christ’s sake hath forgiven us of the penalty of all our sins. He died in our place so that we might have eternal life. How can we hold on to petty grudges? Let them go! Let’s enjoy fellowship with God because we have let go of the stuff we’ve been holding onto. Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
September 6, 2017 – WEDNESDAY
A.M. Proverbs 9-10 P.M. 1Cor.15:1-32
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Memory Verse This Month:
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. (Luke 24:44)
Song for Today:
He Giveth More Grace (3.32) (Gaither Congregation)