Forgiveness

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There are attributes in many believers that seem unnatural to the people around them. Some people have a joy that shines out of them, some the patience that lasts forever. While all seem unnatural in this dark world, they are beautiful when they show their light to the darkness. One of the blessings given to me is my ability to forgive. I took an introspective moment to consider how to explain something so unnatural to those around me. I would like to credit the Holy Spirit. The part of me that thought of vengeance or vindication has become so quiet, its whisper has disappeared.

         Like many of the gifts the Spirit gives to believers, the beauty of them can’t be fully described to people who don’t walk in them. We all know that the Word of God calls us to forgive. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15) This passage means so much more to a forgiving heart. I see Jesus giving an instruction for us to do unto others as our Father has done for us in providing His Son. Even more, I see an amazing Father teaching His children to do something that is good for them even though it isn’t pleasant by nature. Like a parent telling a child to bathe regularly; the child can’t appreciate the lessons in hygiene given to them until they are older and matured. Similarly we begin to appreciate the Word of God as our faith grows and our spirit matures.

               When we refuse to forgive those who offend or harm us we change who we are. We affect the way we see others in terms of trust and kindness. The hurt we hold onto in being unforgiving causes damage and inevitably reveals itself in a way we don’t recognize, in a completely unrelated situation. I think of people who hurt others as fallen and sinful, which applies to us all. In that way we are all consistently falling short of the Glory of God. The nature of people is like gravity. We are always sinful just as gravity always pulls. When we fall do we lash out against gravity or accept what it is?

         Lacking forgiveness is like refusing to accept the nature of sin and man. Refusing to work within God’s design just makes us uncomfortable as the world continues to dwell in darkness. Forgiveness is a light to a world content with its fallenness. Show this world forgiveness with a humility that humbles a hardened heart.

         Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, (Luke 17:3) We are told here to pay attention to ourselves. That makes sense seeing that forgiveness is for our well-being over the well-being of the offender. I feel that forgiveness given, even when there has been no repentance, calms the heart of the offended and warms the heart of our Father. Christ was crucified so that we would have the choice to be forgiven. He died for those who have shown no repentance so that the option of salvation is theirs. Forgive unconditionally, break the cycle of pride so that the love of Christ can be felt through you.

But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. (Psalm 130:4)

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. (Psalm 32:1)

Moving Past Head Knowledge

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5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this! (Mark 2:5-12)
       In the scripture above I found a part of Christ’s character that made me smile and after reading it over a few times thought about what this passage says to me specifically. I see two stories unfolding at once. The room was full of stories being written that would unfold and cause a ripple that spread the gospel from that one moment throughout the world. I want to focus on two, although I hope you’ll see the beauty of how the Gospel exploded from each of the witnesses we have a tendency to overlook.
       I see the scribes and I see the paralytic. We have scribes whose job was to interpret the law for the people. They were experts on the Old Testament law. They would be considered experts on laws. They were as full of head knowledge as anybody during that time. What they missed was when the fulfillment of those laws walking into a room. The God they followed walked into the room and looked into their eyes and they missed it. What good is all of the biblical knowledge in the world if you don’t recognize the author? I am drawn to the character of God that starts small, draws our attention, and then opens our eyes to His love and faithfulness. Jesus forgives the sins of the paralytic and allows the scribes to take notice in their questioning of Him. Then, knowing their hearts, He shows His authority to all. He draws in the people hardened to faith and then brought the whole room into a moment of glorification to God. He has their attention and then heals him so that when he stands, ‘all and amazed and they all glorify God.’ I see the heart of God and the patience He takes in helping us in our hardened state. What love and faithfulness we are called to serve.

       I see the paralytic being lowered through the roof in such faith. Then the Lord takes notice of him and forgives him of his sins. There is now a moment where he lays there forgiven and still paralyzed. There was a time that his faith had to continue in order to be healed. God’s wisdom decided to use his trouble (paralysis) to save those around him. He then decided to use that moment he remained faithful to save the teachers of the law. I’m sure that moment felt like an eternity to the paralytic, but I’m positive it meant eternal life for those to who he was blessed enough to bear witness.

Fallibility of FEAR (Un-forgiveness/5 of 10)

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Fear as Un-Forgiveness

A lack of forgiveness occurs when there is a fear of reoccurring behavior. Sometimes it occurs when a situation is too painful to be dealt with so an inability to forgive that person acts to create separation and safety. If we choose not to forgive we maintain a ‘safe’ distance from pain. We also isolate ourselves from people and unrelated situations and relationships. God desires reconciliation. He reconciled us to Him when we did not deserve or even ask for forgiveness. Being Christ-like is being willing to forgive, even in moments the other person doesn’t show remorse. Extending forgiveness sets the injured party free as much as the person who created the issue. The true goal should be to forgive as God does. Another valuable lesson is to learn from the inflicted pain and grow in unconditional love for people. That is the ultimate command of God.

Kingdom Servants

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(Matthew 24:45-51) Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.  Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 

                This is a parable we should live by. They all are of course but the ideas of God cannot be simply spoken and understood. They must be developed in a heart filled with the Holy Spirit to become fully alive and applicable. Any time Jesus provides us a parable it speaks to every aspect of our life. The beauty of that is how the Word is alive and evolves in meaning to guide us in all seasons of life.

                This parable speaks to God’s children, those who have accepted Jesus and are seeking to develop their lives with the indwelling of the Spirit. God is our master as we delight in the service of His kingdom. The religious structure man has created, in an attempt to reach God, clouds the true desire of God. God wants our hearts, our faith, our obedience, and true relationship with Him. Following the rules of fallible men leads away from His calling to us. The rules instituted by man create exclusivity which does not exist in the eyes of God. The rules man creates drive brothers and sisters in Christ away from the steadfast forgiveness and acceptance in Jesus. Not being open to relationship with all believers and helping them to grow is the same as ‘beating our fellow servants.’ If we are not ‘feeding’ them and helping their walk, we are in fact ‘beating’ the love of God back as He reaches out to all of His children. Look at this parable as a call of God to treat everyone with the love God shows you in your fallen condition. Don’t follow the rules of man. They are fallible, like the man who devised them. It is a mistake to take and try to grow the perfect word of God. If God didn’t choose to put in in scripture, who are we to add to the perfect plan of our Master?

The Beatitudes (7)

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“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Peace is an expression of our relationship with God and with those He brings into our life. God will bring people into our life to guide and love us. People who need to see our reflection of His light and will grow through the Holy Spirit in us. As well as people who will test our faith and cause us pain in order to sanctify and refine us. God desires reconciliation among His people just like He desired to reconcile His people with their Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. Those who strive for peace do the work of their father and grow as they become recognized as “sons of God.”

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(2 Corinthians 5:18-20) 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[c] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

The Beatitudes (5)

 

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“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Mercy is not only kindness and compassion toward others but also forgiveness for those who might not show remorse. Being saved by the mercy of God through Jesus should inspire those of faith to show that same mercy as a reflection of the unchanging nature of God. At the same time this continued showing of mercy will be continually given back to us by God as promised in this passage. The opposition to mercy is judgment which is not the responsibility of His chosen but of God Himself. Again this attitude of unconditional mercy and reflection of God results in our peace, happiness, and blessedness.

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(Matthew 18:33) 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’

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(James 2:13) 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.