There is often a disconnect in our lives between what we say we believe and how what we believe plays out in our daily living – the things that we do. The bigger the gap, the farther we are away from experiencing the fullness of God and the blessing and protection He longs for us to live in. This weekend we look at gap caused when we withhold forgiveness.
In Matthew chapter 18, verse 21, Peter, one of Jesus Disciples, comes to Jesus and asks the question we all ask at some point: “Lord, how many times do I forgive someone who hurts me, who sins against me?”
Peter, who has been calibrating his life to Jesus teaching and example for some time now. Peter who was there when Jesus said “You have heard it said “eye for eye, and tooth for tooth’, but I tell you “turn the other cheek..” If someone wants to sue you and take everything you own, let him have the shirt off your back as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” (Matthew 5:38-41)(NIV) Peter who was there when Jesus taught them how to pray and Jesus ended the lesson with “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)(NIV)
I wonder if something has happened in Peter’s life and now it is personal?
Jesus goes on to tell a story in verse 23 about a King who forgave the debt of a servant, yet that same servant would not forgive a lesser debt owed to him. The story hit home, as did the consequences that followed in the life of the debtor giving Peter these truths to calibrate to when it comes to forgiveness.
As a follower of Christ, I am expected to forgive others and I am held responsible for this.
Colossians 3:13 says “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)(NIV)
We need to know that when God commands us to do something, He doesn’t do it just to banter his authority. He does it because he knows what is best for us. He has our well-being in mind. Unforgiveness and the resentment that comes with it is unhealthy.
My forgiveness toward others is to be fueled by God’s love expressed to me daily.
Forgiving others is a process driven by God’s love and grace experienced in our lives.
Colossians 2:13 says: “When you were dead in your sins God made you alive with Christ. He took our debt and nailed it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)(NIV) (Paraphrased)
And finally, Forgiveness is a choice driven by love and results in action. When you and I have received the forgiveness, mercy, grace, we have received from God. When we recognize the significance of our trespass, our sin debt and the price that was paid to release us from that debt, we can see the need for mercy in others, can’t we? We can see the hurt. And in that moment we choose. We choose love or hate. One imprisons us and other frees us. One keeps records of wrongs, the other burns the list. One shows patience, the other blasts out with harsh words. One shows disregard for the debtor, the other shows mercy.
I look forward to seeing you this weekend at 5:30 Saturday and 10:30 Sunday. Dave