Three things I bumped into about forgiveness.

As I was walking my dog Rudy this morning I began to think about three separate places I bumped into forgiveness. They hit me over a two week period and seemed a bit random, but together make some important statements to us.

  1. Jim Colledge preached a couple weeks ago on Ps 32. That is the Psalm where David confesses his sin of murder and adultery. It is a powerful admission of his horrible deeds. Jim gave us four parts in the process of forgiveness. First, there is CONVICTION. Look particularly at verse four. Second, there is CONFESSION. see verse five. Third, comes CLEANSING, see verse 5b. And finally in verse six and following we see CONFIDENCE. It is important for us to remember all four of these. There can be a tendency to focus on the first two: conviction and confession. We can forget that after true conviction and confession comes a cleansing. Look at 1 John 1:9. After coming clean with our trespasses we are cleansed from unrighteousness. Going through the whole process of forgiveness helps us to live knowing we are forgiven, changed and given a fresh start. That is a more complete view of God’s forgiveness. If you want to hear Jim’s two part sermon he’s the link.
  2. Then two weeks ago I was reading Matthew 5. My 1verse, 1sentence on Wednesday the 20th of July was  Matthew 5:44 ESV “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”  I think I usually hear people say, “You know if someone is bugging you, if they’re making you angry, pray for them. You’ll begin to see a change in your heart.” I believe that is really good advice. I’ve practiced it and found it has helped. I’ve even encouraged others to do it. What hit me two weeks ago and is still with me is what preceeds the command to pray. The verse also says, “LOVE your enemies.” That means seek their highest good. Ouch! That is way tougher. I’ve got to seek what is best for them?? Wow it is way easier to simply pray for them, but that is not what we are commanded to do. We are to love even those we dislike, and even hate. So how do we do that kind full forgiveness that actually serves and helps the offender? Which leads to the third thing.
  3. In an email I ran into these thoughts on forgiveness from Cary Humphries, who is on the staff of The Naviagators. He had been looking the power packed chapter on forgiveness, Matthew 18. Here’s what he gleaned.1. We have been forgiven an unthinkable amount. I saw this in a way I’d never seen before in Matthew 18:21-35. In that passage, Peter asks Jesus if he has to forgive his brother “up to seven times.” Jesus calls Peter to seventy-times-seven forgiveness. As I did the math on this one, I realized this is an amazing, even outlandish parable about the Kingdom of God.

    The King who forgave his slave released him from a debt of 10,000 talents. In today’s wages that debt would exceed $3 billion! This slave then proceeded to choke a fellow slave for a debt of 100 days’ wages. Interestingly, this was not an insignificant debt. It was painful to forgive nearly one-third of a year’s work, but Jesus made the point:  Don’t forget what you have been forgiven!

    2.  We are to forgive everyone who sins against us. Sometimes our ability to forgive is hindered by our judging whether or not the offender deserves our forgiveness. Some people are easy to forgive; others seem impossible. God, the Great Forgiver, is the only one who can bear the load of those unforgivable offenses against us and give us the ability to release them. Jesus teaches His disciples to pray in Luke 11:4 “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” We need to forgive because we are commanded to forgive, and because it affects our spiritual well-being and growth.

    3.  We are to forgive just as Christ forgave us. What a high standard to forgive just as God in Christ has forgiven us. He chooses not to remember my sin and, as a result, He doesn’t use my sin to create my identity, to accuse me, or to form the basis of how He treats me (Psalm 103:13 and Jeremiah 31:34).

    In the human world, this can get complicated as we may need to get support or wise counsel in processing the impact of an offense. But we must avoid moving into the unhealthy and dangerous (for us and for the offender) process of stewing in the offense or gossiping about the offender.



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