Forgive – as you would be forgiven

20130122_125304Do you ever have that one person that just annoys you? They did something one time that really ticked you off and now they just irritate you. Or maybe you were once really good friends and the other person betrayed you. You forgave but things will “never be the same”.

We have all experienced these kinds of situations and processed them the same way. I have been studying lately about what the Bible has to say about dealing with them. Jesus prayed for His disciples that they would be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:21).

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are individual but inseparable. One of them cannot do something that would cause another to leave the tri-unity of the God-head. Why do we as mere men think that we can stand above such unity and refuse to let God heal a relationship?

“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.” 1 John 3:14

“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 John 3:16

We choose to live in death when we don’t love. It is one thing to say that you have forgiven and another thing entirely to be able to lay down your life for someone that has hurt you. I believe that for us, it isn’t just literal, but figurative. When was the last time that you did something inconvenient for you that meant a lot to someone that gets on your nerves?

This goes for coworkers, family members, people that you go to church with; take that one person that “ticks you off”, and write them a note. Tell them how much you appreciate something that they have done. You have to change the way that you think about them. You have to tell yourself that they are worth laying down your life/will for. Jesus did. Who are we to say that they aren’t worth the effort.

Every relationship is worth the effort. Pray for that person. Ask for God’s blessing over their lives. It can be hard to do at first, but it will soften your heart toward them. Jesus said that if we don’t forgive, God can’t forgive us (Matthew 18:35, 6:15).

I believe to the degree that we do or don’t forgive, God will or won’t forgive us. Do we want God to give us the cold shoulder? Do we do it to others? Do we want things to “never be the same” with our Heavenly Father? Then why do we think that way? This is not discounting the fact that sometimes the other person does not want to reconcile, but have we done everything in our power to bring peace to the relationship? Is your heart at peace with the other person? Most importantly, is your heart right with God about the situation?

I have to say in closing that I am far from perfect. This is something that we as Christians give ourselves to daily to keep our hearts from growing hard. And that as we let God deal with our hearts, He does. We want the love and forgiveness of God to flow to us, so we must let it flow through us. Forgiveness for others is born out of a heart that wants to be close to God and wants nothing to come between Him and you.

 

For the researcher’s heart:

Matthew 6:9-15 – The Lord’s Prayer

Matthew 18:21-35 – The Unforgiving Servant

1 John 3:14-18 – Loving each other

1 John 4:11-12,20-21

1 John 5:1

Seventy Times Seven

Matthew 18:21-35 “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. ‘Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.’”

Long passage, but it has been on my mind today. It will really rock your world if you let it. Too often as Christians, we let things bug us. People get on our nerves or flat out offend us. Sometimes they legitimately hurt us. But what is our response? It can make the difference in eternity.

So first, the servant is brought before the king with an insurmountable debt. He begs for mercy and is forgiven a debt that he never could have paid. He promptly goes and finds a fellow servant and demands a few dollars from him and shows no mercy. You can imagine why the king responded the way he did.

Let’s put this in real life. We hold a debt to God that we can never pay. He has forgiven us for things that we could never make up for. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. The payment for the wrong that we have done is death. But instead we have been forgiven and given life.

And in return, we find someone that we feel owes us and won’t forgive them. Why? What makes us feel that we have the right? I think more often than not, we forget the debt that we have been forgiven. Then when we hold something against another person, we put ourselves in a place of torment. Verse 34 says torturers, other versions say tormentors. We never really hurt the person that we don’t forgive, we really only ever hurt ourselves. The torment in your mind is unbearable.

The other thing that unforgiveness does is that it separates us from God. We can’t hear His voice anymore. It makes it so that the only thing that we can think about it is what we think is owed us. And because we can’t hear His voice, we aren’t walking in obedience to Him.

The last thing that unforgiveness and bitterness does is that it drives people away from you. Your closest friends and family will begin to get distant. The only time they stay close is when they themselves are harboring unforgiveness. Then it becomes misery and company. But those that don’t will subconsciously step away because of the things that you allow in through the unforgiveness and the torment.

Legitimately, there are times when it hurts deeply. People do things that are wrong to us: physically, mentally or emotionally. Forgiving them isn’t saying that what they did was right. Forgiving them is moving on and not letting it hold on to you. It is trusting in God and looking to Him instead of to the circumstance. Forgiveness is moving forward and keeping your heart right with God.

Let God shape the way you think. Remember that it is seventy times seven, not so that we keep account, but so that we don’t live in torment. Forgive so that your Father can forgive you. It’s like a faucet. You can’t turn it off to those around you and expect that it is still going to flow from above. Forgiveness is the only option in light of eternity.

Partial?

James 2:2-4 “For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and say to the poor man, ‘You stand there,’ or, ‘Sit here at my footstool,’ have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?”

Jesus: a friend of sinners, outcasts, thieves. He didn’t do what the religious community thought that He should. He came to do what the world needed Him to. He served the needy. He saw through the fake. He healed the broken. He called the hypocrites on the table. He held the children. He helped the needy.

Think of the kind of people that He touched, physically. Lepers: (Matthew 8:3) if a Jew touched a leper, they were made unclean. A dead body: (Matthew 9:25) again, it was considered unclean for a Jew to touch a dead body. He was so confident in what He was to do that He would do anything the Father put before Him.

Think of what we do in the church today. Someone walks through the doors that reminds us of someone we don’t like. We avoid them. Someone is very influential in the business world. We make ourselves their best friend. Someone comes in off the streets that smells. We find someone else to help them.

We want the no muss, no fuss people that everyone likes. This doesn’t just go for the church but everywhere we go. Do we ignore people that might get us messy or “unclean”?

I work in customer service and my job calls for no partiality. It is still so easy to pick and choose who to be nice to, who to give special attention to, who to judge at first glance. Why? First impression. The way they appear. “Fine apparel” vs. “filthy clothes”. But who gave me the right to be judge?

James 2:8-9 “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”

Do I treat people, on first impression, the way that I would want to be treated. Think of the place, the circumstance, the people; and put yourself in their shoes. What are they thinking? How are they feeling? If that’s not motivation enough, it’s just plain wrong.

Do unto others. Show no partiality. Walk in Jesus’ shoes. Be the face you would want to encounter.