Forgiveness is All about Christ April 08, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Forgiveness.
Tags: 2 Corinthians 2, Christ, Forgiveness
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“And those who you forgive, I also do. And indeed, those which I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anyone, is because of you, in the presence of Christ, in order that we might not be taken advantage of by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his thoughts.”
(2 Corinthians 2:10-11)
“For we are not as many are, selling the Word of God for profit, but rather out of sincerity, as ones from God, in the presence of God, it is in Christ that we speak.”
(2 Corinthians 2:17)
The devil’s desire is to cause dissention and division within the body of Christ. His desire is nothing but one of destruction, waging war against the followers of Christ. One way he does that is by hampering our forgiveness of others. Not only does that hamper our forgiveness from God, but it also allows the roots of the weeds to remain in your heart—and then those ugly weeds will grow back, choking the life from you. One of the easiest ways in which you can defeat the work of Satan in your life is by being broken and willing to forgive—even at great cost.
But we do what we do not because we want to wage war against the devil—he has waged war against us. We do what we do because we are not our own; we belong to Christ. And thus, all that we do must be done in Christ and through Christ. It must be done for his glory and his glory alone. When things are boiled down, nothing else matters. We have been called and commissioned by God as his servants, and it is a mighty task that God has commissioned us to do: making disciples of all nations. Yet this task begins with our right relationship with God through Christ and our relationship with others through Christ. Our Christian witness must be one of both word and deed, forgiving as we have been forgiven. Beloved, recognize that you have been given a sacred task to forgive both small and great for the glory of God. As St. Francis of Assissi, once said, “Preach always, and if necessary, use words.”
Forgiveness is Sacrificial April 08, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Forgiveness.
Tags: Forgiveness, Hebrews 9, Leviticus 4, Sacrifice
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“And he shall cause all its fat to go up in a smoke offering upon the altar as the fat of the sacrifice of the peace offering, and so the priest shall make atonement for him from his sin, and he will be forgiven.”
“If then the blood of male goats and bulls and ashes of a heifer sprinkled over the ones who are defiled sanctifies the flesh for purification, how much more the blood of Christ, which through the eternal Spirit, offered himself blameless to God, will cleanse our conscience from the dead for serving the living God?”
Forgiveness does not come easily, but comes at a great cost. Even unintentional or accidental sins (which the passage from Leviticus is dealing with) are not dismissed without cost. And though the one who is asking the forgiveness may have to pay a cost, ultimately it is the one doing the forgiving that pays the greatest cost. It is dangerous to forgive someone because when you do that, you open yourself up and make yourself vulnerable to being hurt again. Yet, God paid the ultimate cost to offer you and I forgiveness—he sent his son to die on the cross to pay the blood penalty for our sins.
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul!
This sacrificial nature of forgiveness is not something that our culture values. People usually end up on one of two extremes. The one who has offended usually wants to take no responsibility for their offense, wanting a “get out of jail free pass” as part of your forgiveness. In contrast, the one who has been harmed usually wants the person to pay, and pay, and pay, whether that be in a huge monetary settlement or by laying a burden of guilt upon the other party. This is not the model that God sets for us. While we were still rebelling in sin, he sent his son to live and to die on a cross to bring atonement. He has promised us that if we repent of our sins, he will forgive us, the price of the sin being already paid by the blood of Christ.
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing,
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, who is the great I AM,
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing,
While millions join the theme, I will sing!
If our Lord, full of holiness and grace, would choose to sacrifice himself to bring us forgiveness, should we not also model this in our lives? One of the greatest ways that we can demonstrate God’s love and forgiveness is by forgiving others with the same sacrificial willingness that our Lord demonstrated to us. Friends, this life is short and passing away. Though the hurts and injuries caused by others my seem insurmountable now, in the scope of eternity, they are insignificant and will pass away with this life. What better way can you bless someone than by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with them through your forgiveness—as much as that forgiveness might cost you to give.
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be,
And through eternity I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
And through eternity I’ll sing on!
Forgiveness is the Result of Love April 08, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Forgiveness.
Tags: Forgiveness, Love, Nehemiah 9
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“And they refused to obey and they did not remember your wonderful works which you did with them. They hardened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their bondage in their rebellion. But you are a God of forgiveness—gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abundant in steadfast love—and you did not forsake them.”
This passage from Nehemiah is part of a larger prayer that was led by the Levites, proclaiming the covenant faithfulness of God even in the midst of the sin of the people and repenting of their sin as well. This was part of a covenant renewal—recommitting themselves as a nation to the service of God on high. The prayer extols the ds,x, (hesed) of God (translated here as “steadfast love”). God’s ds,x, (hesed) is one of the great themes of the Old Testament and describes his covenant faithfulness and mercy despite the covenant breaking of his people. It is a term that is very closely tied with the New Testament term, ajgavph (agape), which refers to a sacrificial love that loves regardless of whether that love is reciprocated.
Friends, because of God’s great love, you have experienced forgiveness. You who were rebelling against God in your sin, you who were unworthy of anything but eternal condemnation, have experienced this forgiveness when you were born again. How is it then, that you can withhold forgiveness of others? It is because of the great love that God has shown to you that you can forgive others. If you have never experienced the love of God, then it is understandable that you cannot forgive, but you who have experienced the love of God need to demonstrate that love in the way you forgive those who have offended you—even when they are still in rebellion against what is right.
Most English translations of the Bible translate the central section of this verse as: “appointed a leader to return to their bondage in Egypt.” The word that is translated “in Egypt” which I have translated as “in their rebellion” is the word MDy√rImV;b (bemiryam). Literally, this word means “in their rebellion” as I have translated it. “In Egypt,” though, would only vary by one letter, and would look like this: Mˆy∂rVxImV;b (bemitsrayim). The only difference is the presence of the letter c (tsade-which gives the “ts” sound). Given the context of the prayer, which is speaking of Israel’s rebellion in the wilderness wanderings and their complaining—many expressing the desire to return to slavery in Egypt, most translators consider that the missing tsade was just a scribal error when the text was being copied thousands of years ago.
At the same time, the reading of the ancient text should not be ignored. We must never forget that the people’s sin is rebellion against God and sin binds us in spiritual chains. God’s redemption of the people from their physical bondage in Egypt is a picture of what God’s redemption of his people’s bondage to sin would look like as fulfilled in Christ. The way our English Bibles translate this word, then, probably best reflects what these priests were praying, but we should never forget what is being done by God in the larger picture of redemptive history. And that is God’s faithfulness in spite of our great unfaithfulness.
Friends, there will be people who will harm and offend you. There will be people that it will seem like you could never forgive. Yet, I plead with you who have experienced God’s ds,x, (hesed), show that ds,x, (hesed) to others in the way you forgive. One thing that I often hear at funerals is “I wish that I had taken the time to tell this person that I loved them have forgiven them…” Beloved, don’t live with regrets, love and forgive others as God has loved and forgiven you.
Forgiveness is Sincere April 08, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Forgiveness.
Tags: 1 John 1, Forgiveness
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“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous in order that he might forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
I saw a skit a number of years ago that depicted how many American families interact with one another. In the skit, both the husband and the wife carried a ledger around with them. When one person did something nice for another, it was marked down in the ledger. When something mean or careless was done, it too was marked in the ledger. Debates then ensued between each person about how many plusses or minuses that each had.
Though this seems like a rather silly way to live life, it is the way that many people live. So-and-so did something nice for me so now I am obligated to do something nice for them—even the slate, as it were. And also, so-and-so offended me in this way, so I need to keep track of it lest they offend me again. Then, when the question of forgiveness comes along, it might be offered up front, but if anything bad ever happens again, then the ledger can come out and the “remember when” is uttered.
We have talked about a lot of things that forgiveness is not, one thing that forgiveness is, is sincere. Forgiveness is meant to be acted upon and lived out. If you forgive someone, then there can be no notes kept in the ledger book regarding their sin toward you. It is not held over someone’s head, either, in the hopes of making them feel guilty or that “they owe you” something. Forgiveness does not have a remember when attitude.
This is not to say that scars will not remain even after you have forgiven another person. Sometimes wounds are very deep and need a long time to heal. But the reason that scars remain is not so that you can continue to hold said sin over your offender’s head, but the scars remain to remind you what God has brought you through. The scars also remain as a testimony to the world that God has preserved you through trials and tribulations and perhaps will allow you to minister to others who are facing a similar crisis. There is great power in being able to say that I have faced the same thing you are going through, God has preserved me, and God has enabled me to forgive. That is a powerful testimony.
Friends, I have said this before and I will continue to say this as long as I draw breath. You and I have been forgiven more than we can imagine. Our sin is more heinous to God than a thousand sins that another could do to you. Your sin—my sin—cost God the life of his Son, what more need I say? And beloved, if God could forgive you, then God can enable you to forgive one another as hard as that may seem. Trust Him to do that work in you.
Forgiveness is not Optional April 08, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Forgiveness.
Tags: Acts 2, Deuteronomy 15, Forgiveness, Leviticus 25, Luke 4, Matthew 6
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“For if you should forgive people their offenses, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you should not forgive people, neither will your father forgive you your offenses.”
“For if your Hebrew brother or Hebrew [person] is sold to you, he will serve you six years, and in the seventh year you will release him from being with you. And when you send him free from being with you, you shall not send him out with empty hands. You shall surely provide abundantly for him from your flock and from your threshing floor and from your wine vat. For Yahweh, your God, has blessed you; you shall give to him. And you shall remember—for you were a slave in the land of Egypt and Yahweh, your God, redeemed you. Because of this, I command this thing of you today.”
“And you shall make holy the year of the fiftieth year and you will proclaim liberty in the land to all who dwell there. It is to be a jubilee for you. And you will return, each man to his possession and each man to his family. You shall return.”
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for the sake of which, he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the recovery of sight to the blind and to send forgiveness to those who are broken down—to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
“And all who believed were with each other, and they held all things in common.”
One of the things that you find as you study scripture is that there are themes that begin in the Old Testament and are developed to their fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ. These themes, as they develop, point more and more to the need of something greater than simply a human fulfillment and are meant to show us our absolute need of Christ to fulfill what we cannot do on our own. This theme of the Sabbatical year and the Year of Jubilee is one of them.
According to ancient Jewish law, God commanded that every seventh year, those who were in debit to you were to be let free and pardoned (see the passage from Deuteronomy (above). This principle was based on two things. First, it represented the principle of the Sabbath being applied to all of life. Not only then were masters to have their servants and slaves rest on the seventh day, but in the seventh year, their slaves were to be freed and sent away with enough wealth that they could start off a new life on good financial footing.
The second principle that this is based on is the principle of God’s release of the Israelites from their captivity in Egypt. Because they had been slaves at one time, and God redeemed them from their oppressors, they were always to remember that and do the same for the slaves in their household. And as they had left Egypt with great possessions, so too, should their slaves leave their households with great possessions. The language of the passage is forceful and stresses the idea that this command of God was not an abstract rule that he was giving them, but they had an obligation to their slaves that flowed out of their very national identity. They are ones who had been redeemed—they then must be redeemers of others.
As an important side note, earlier in this chapter about the Sabbatical year, where God is talking about the forgiveness of personal debits, there is a promise that if the people would be faithful in this, God would bless their land and there would be no poor amongst them. Oftentimes, it was poverty and debit that forced people into slavery. Were this principle enforced, people would not only pay off all of their debits through six years of labor, but they would get a fresh start with new possessions from the master—the wealth would not be hoarded, but distributed amongst the people. There would still be some who were wealthier than others, but no one in the land would be in need.
In a similar vein, the Jews were to celebrate a year of Jubilee every 50th year. Not only were debits forgiven in the Year of Jubilee, but family lands that had been sold to pay debits were to be returned to their rightful families. It was to be a year dedicated to the worship of God and all he did and a year dedicated to restoring family bonds and connections.
The problem with all of this is that the people did not follow through on the command that God had given them to fulfill the Sabbatical year or the Year of Jubilee. To do so would have represented a huge financial loss to those in power financially. Human beings, because of sin, tend to be rather selfish, and the promise of no poor in the land was not an incentive for the wealthy class to relinquish part of their wealth.
As the misery and poverty that resulted from the people’s failure grew, God issued a new promise through the prophet Isaiah. Because the people could not fulfill the year of Jubilee, God would do it for them. Isaiah proclaims that a messiah would come who would proclaim this year of the Lord’s favor (Isaiah 61:1-3). In Jesus’ first recorded sermon in his hometown (Luke 4:18-19), Jesus quotes this passage from Isaiah and states that the prophecy has been fulfilled and it is fulfilled in him.
You see, Christians live in the year of Jubilee, for the ultimate year of Jubilee is in Christ. Many people wonder, when they see the picture of the early church sharing everything (Acts 2:42-47), what is going on here. They oftentimes think of this as some kind of Christian communism. That is not the case at all. There were still those who were more wealthy than others. The people understood that Christ had ushered in the Year of Jubilee in its fullness, and they were celebrating it! As a result, not only did the church grow, but God blessed it so that there was no want or need.
Obviously, this model did not continue—it is a very special picture of a very special time. And it is meant to be a pointer to what living as the church will be like when we enjoy eternity with Christ in the new heavens and earth—free from the effects of sin. At the same time, it is a reminder to us, that we live in the year of Jubilee, and as we have been forgiven our debits by God, we also must forgive the debits of others. Just as it was God’s command that the debits (financial and otherwise) be forgiven between God’s people in the ancient Jewish time, so too, we must forgive the debits of others in the life of the church as well.
Loved ones, we are not the rich men, owning many slaves to release. We are the poor slave, oppressed by sin, and God has proclaimed our release in this year of Jubilee that was inaugurated by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. How is it then, that you who have been forgiven so much can justify holding forgiveness against another—especially against our brothers who, in this year of jubilee, are seeking to return home to the Christian family.
Forgiveness is not a “Get out of Jail Free” Pass April 08, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Forgiveness.
Tags: Forgiveness, Responsibility, Romans 13
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“Let every soul be subject to the authorities that are in power, for there is no authority except from God and those that exist are appointed by God. Thus, those who resist this authority resist what God has decreed. Those who resist will receive judgment. Indeed, the ones who rule are not a terror to those doing good works, but to the evil ones. If you want to not be in fear of the authorities, then do good things and you will have praise from them. For he is a servant of God and there for your good. But, if you do evil, you shall fear! He does not carry the sword in vain. For God’s servant is the avenger of God’s wrath on the ones who do evil. Therefore, the necessity is to be subject, not only because of this wrath, but because of the conscience.”
God institutes laws and governments for the basic purpose of rewarding good and punishing wickedness (see also 1 Peter 2:13-17). As believers, we have an obligation to submit to those governments and laws even when those laws are harsh (note that both Peter and Paul were executed by the governments that they were telling us to submit to). The only time a believer has the authority to go against the laws of the government is if those laws would cause you to sin (for example the account of Daniel and the law forbidding him to pray to God—see Daniel 6).
One of the things that Christians often struggle with is do they hold someone accountable in a legal sense for something that they have offered forgiveness to another for. Or, from the opposite side of the coin, should I still be held legally responsible for my acts if someone forgives me. This is a difficult question and should be made both in prayer and in subjection to the law of the land. There are times when the law would allow you to prosecute someone who has sinned against you, but to do so would be vindictive, and that would be a sin.
Yet, if someone has caused you monetary damage, then it is perfectly valid for a believer to expect the other person to provide reasonable restitution even after forgiving the other person. The Christian has the right to show grace on the offender if he or she is so led, but should not feel guilty about asking the person to repair or replace what has been damaged or taken. Likewise, the believing Christian, who has wronged another Christian, should expect to repay said damages whether or not forgiveness is offered.
But, there are some cases that the law demands legal action be taken. If a severe offense like murder, arson, rape, abuse, etc… is committed, then the law of the land demands that the offender be tried and receive the government’s standard of justice. The Christian should not stand in the way of this. Forgiveness should be offered, but your forgiveness of the offender does not satisfy the demands of the government. When Christians stand in the way of governmental rulings in such matters, they are rebelling against the authorities that God has instituted for his purposes and to do so is to doubt God’s purposes. It would be sin.
Loved ones, when someone wrongs you and you offer forgiveness, you should not feel afraid to expect that damages should be repaid. These damages or costs should not be inflated and should be reasonable. In turn, when you are forgiven for having wronged another, you should expect to repay any losses unless the offended person chooses to show you grace. And lastly, you should not interfere with the exercise of the State’s legal action even after you have forgiven them—the state is doing what God designed the state to do, whether the state is overly benevolent or overly harsh. Let your conscience be at peace and forgive, trusting that God will put all the other pieces of the puzzle in their proper places.
Forgiveness is not Lip Service April 08, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Forgiveness.
Tags: Forgiveness, Genesis 50, Psalm 103
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“When the brothers of Joseph saw that their father had died, they said, ‘What if Joseph bears a grudge—he will surely return to us all of the evil that we did to him.’ So they sent an instruction to Joseph saying, ‘Your father gave an instruction before he died saying, ‘Thus you will say to Joseph: please lift the transgression of your brothers and their sin as they have done evil to you.’ And now, please lift the transgression from the servants of the God of your father.’ And Joseph wept when this was said to him. His brothers also came and prostrated themselves in his presence and they said, ‘Behold, we are as your slaves.’”
“And Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in God’s place? But you, you planned evil for me; God planned good. For on account of these doings, many people are alive today. So now, do not fear. I will provide for you and your children.’ Thus, he comforted them and spoke to their heart.” (Genesis 50:15-21)
Of all people who would have had the “right” to hold a grudge against those who had harmed him, it would have been Joseph. His brothers were not only jealous of him for the favor that his father showed to him. They abused him and stripped him of the precious robes that his father had given him (remembering for a moment that clothes had an important symbolic function in the Old Testament for they conveyed your position in a family or in the courts—the disrobing of Joseph by his brothers was an act of disowning him from their family). Then, they tossed him into a pit and sold him into slavery rather than killing him. While Joseph ended up in a position of great authority in Egypt, he also spent many years in Egyptian prisons after his encounter with Potiphar’s wife. He had every reason to want revenge against his brothers and after their father died, that is exactly what his brothers feared. Now, the brother whom they had abused was the most powerful man in the land next to Pharaoh. From a worldly perspective, these brothers were right to fear for their lives.
But God’s people don’t live according to a worldly perspective; they live according to the Word of God. And when God forgives, there are no grudges that remain. As David writes in Psalm 103:
As distant as the east is from the west,
He will remove out transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion on sons,
Yahweh has compassion on those who fear him.
Because of the fullness of the work of Christ, the forgiveness that is offered in his blood is so full and complete that there are no remnants or blots of that sin left upon our account. Not even the impression of the sin (as a pencil leaves an impression in the paper even after the pencil mark is erased) is left after Christ has washed us clean.
Unfortunately, because of our fallen state, we have trouble letting go even after sin has been forgiven. As I mentioned above, if you only remove the surface part of a weed from the ground, it won’t be long before the weed returns. Holding on to anger over sin when we have offered forgiveness is not God’s way; it is the way of the world and the way of the world’s master, Satan.
What we must understand is that the only reason for holding on to that anger and frustration is so that we might be able to retaliate sometimes down the road. As I was growing up, there was a series of novels by Lloyd Alexander that I used to like to read and a statement was made in one of those novels that has remained with me to this day. When asked about revenge, the older, wiser character responded, “Revenge is not sweet, but is a bitter dish to dine on with little nutrition to add.” Friends, vengeance does not belong to God’s people, but belongs to God alone (Deuteronomy 32:36, Romans 12:19).
God has stated that he will bring vengeance against his enemies and he has also promised that he will order all things in this world—both good and evil—for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). Thus, when you seek your own revenge, what you are saying is that you doubt God’s ability to bring about good from evil deeds and that you doubt God’s capacity to avenge his name. Beloved, this is a very dangerous position to take, because in doing so; you have placed yourself above God in your capacity to right the wrongs of others.
Friends, let Joseph’s model always remind us that God is in control of events around us. He will provide for our needs and in his timing, he will right the wrongs that have been done to us. Don’t fall prey to the temptation to forgive only on the surface and cling to the desire for revenge—for this is not forgiveness at all.
Forgiveness is not Minimizing April 08, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Forgiveness.
Tags: Forgiveness, Joel 2, Sin
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“And even now,’ utters the LORD,
‘return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and lamentation!
Rend your hearts and not your garments!
Return to the LORD, your God,
For he is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger and abundant in mercy,
And he grieves over wickedness.”
In addition to condoning sin when we take someone’s repentance lightly, we also minimize both their sin and their repentance. When we simply say, “don’t worry about it,” we convey to the person who is repenting of sin that repentance is not that big a deal. And, indeed, just the opposite is true. True repentance is hard work and requires someone to set aside their pride and humble themselves before another. True repentance also requires a change of lifestyle—a turning away from the sin that was done—and when you minimize the sin this way, you minimize their change of heart and life.
True repentance is not simply saying “I’m sorry” and moving on with life, but true repentance requires a turning around of lifestyle. If we were going to take a church trip from Mississippi to Florida, and we all climbed aboard the church bus with me driving. If we found, after we were on the road for a while, that we had just crossed the Mississippi river into Louisiana, there would be a problem. As the driver of the church bus, it would not do for me to simply say, “Whoops, I’m sorry” and keep on traveling toward Texas on Route 20. I would need to find the next exit and turn the bus around, putting it on the road going East and not West. Repentance is the same way. It takes work and commitment. It expects you to grieve over your sin and seek to change the direction that your life is going. There is a brokenness that takes place as part of repentance that drives you to change. That brokenness is the work of the Holy Spirit, and when you make light of a person’s repentance by minimizing it, you also make light of the Holy Spirit’s work.
Friends, God calls us to himself as broken and humbled sinners with nothing to our account that can be offered. Yet, God does not leave us broken down, but begins rebuilding us that we might stand as a mark of his glory to the world. If God took us as broken down sinners and sought to build us up (indeed, He is still doing that building), then we ought to do the same and seek to build up those who come to us in repentance for things that they have done that have offended us.
Forgiveness does not Condone Sin April 08, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Forgiveness.
Tags: 1 Peter 1, Forgiveness, Sin
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“As obedient children, do not conform yourselves to the things you formerly did in your ignorance and lust, but according to your holy call. You should be holy in all your ways, for it is written, ‘you shall be holy, since I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:14-16)
So many times, when people come to us for forgiveness, we simply respond by saying, “that’s ok, don’t worry about it.” But the reality is that if someone has done something that requires repentance, it is not “ok” and they should be concerned about it. The reality is that they have done something to hurt you and for you not to take that seriously is to be dishonest with yourself and with the person who offended. Our response should rather sound something like, “You have hurt me and I have been deeply offended, yet God willingly forgave me my sins toward him, and because of that, I can forgive you of your sins toward me.” When honesty like this is expressed between two people, then the beginnings of reconciliation can take place.
One reason that I think we take sin so casually in our culture is that we take forgiveness casually. We do not realize how harmful our sins are before God because we are not allowed to realize how harmful our sins are before our fellow man. Until we begin to take sin seriously, we will never take the forgiveness that God offers seriously, and we will not take seriously the unimaginable cost that Jesus had to pay on account of our sins.
Friends, forgiveness is not easy, and when you make it easy, you might as well be condoning the sin, because the silent message that is sent is that whatever was done was not such a bad thing to do after all. Take sin seriously and take the repentance of others seriously. Do not condone it, but recognize the sin for what it is—ugly in the eyes of God. At the same time remember that your sins cost God a terrible price, and because God is willing to forgive you, you should be willing to forgive others.
He left his father’s throne above
So free, so infinite his grace!
Humbled himself—so great his love!
And bled for all his chosen race.
Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For O my God, it found out me.
Amazing love! How can it be
That thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Forgiving Iniquity April 08, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Forgiveness.
Tags: Forgiveness, Iniquity, Micah
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“Who is a God like you, lifting iniquity and passing over rebellion
Toward the remnant of his possession?
He does not hold his anger forever,
For he is pleased to show mercy.
Let him return; let him greet us with love.
Let him subdue our iniquity,
You shall throw all our sins into the depths of the sea.
You shall give truth to Jacob
And mercy to Abraham
Which you swore to our fathers
From the days of old.”
So why is it that forgiveness is so important for the believer? First of all, it is modeled for us by God. God is perfect and holy; God is truth and truly beautiful. If we are to grow in grace, that means growing like God. And growing like God means learning to forgive as God forgives. From the very point that Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden, there was a promise of redemption. Fallen man has never lived a day where that promise has not been before them. There was no probationary period before forgiveness was extended and no waiting in limbo until God decided what to do about sin. Forgiveness in Christ was offered to Adam and Eve at the fall, that all who would put their faith in him (or for Old Testament Saints—in the promise of the coming Christ) would be saved and be reunited with the Father and have eternal life with him. Thus, in light of all God has done, God expects us to work hard at forgiveness.
And forgiveness takes work. When I was growing up, my parents had a good sized vegetable garden, and as children, my sister and I were expected to help keep it weeded. The problem with weeding a garden is that weeds often have deep and firm roots, and if you don’t get the weed up, root and all, the weed will grow right back practically overnight. It is easy to pull up the top of a weed and make the garden look nice, but it is far harder to get the weed—root and all.
When you fail to forgive someone, the hurt and frustration that you hold onto are very much like the roots of those weeds. They may lie dormant for a time, but they will come back up all over again. I know that there have been times in my own life when I thought that I had removed the anger over a particular situation by the root, but years later, the anger over that situation arises anew and must be killed anew.
Friends, not only will refusing to forgive others destroy your soul in the next life, but it will destroy you in this life as well. Just as weeds sap the nutrients from the soil that good plants need as well as choking those plants out, so too does the anger you hold onto eat at your life and hamper the good works you seek to do before God. Friends, do not hold onto your anger; forgive others that you may be forgiven and forgive others that you may demonstrate the love and mercy of God to the world around you.