Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Food for thought: Forgiveness

Then Peter came up to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I'll tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." -Matthew 18:21-22

Forgiveness has really been a key issue in my life lately. I go back to this verse when I am feeling defeated by others, contemplating forgiveness. I am human! I sin! I sometimes have to THINK about forgiving people, wondering if they are worthy of my forgiveness, time, and emotion. I have to remember that the exact wording of this verse is very important: I must forgive my brother (everyone) when they sin against me. Sometimes I get so bogged down because "people" aren't doing the right thing. I get mad when others make stupid choices, causing grief for those closest to them, myself included at times. I take it all personally. I've even been known to hold a grudge or two in my time {believe it or not, HA!} My thought process is flawed because simply: I am human. However, I can not use my "humanness" as justification for continuing to live in sin. I can and should only forgive those that have sinned against me. If others are sinning against others or against God, I need to pray for them. I should not take it personally or hold a grudge. If I do, then *I* am the one needing forgiveness! They have not sinned against me, therefore, forgiveness from me is not needed. {Gosh I hope my rambling is making sense.}

This passage really opened my eyes...

1 John:
1:5: This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives.

2:1: My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him.
This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

That pretty much sums it up for me. One thing I can say for myself is {as you can also see above} I have never claimed to be perfect. I will shout it from the rooftops that I am NOT perfect! I am far from it actually and like everyone else, have my good days and have my bad days. Lucky for me, I am saved by the love and grace of Jesus Christ. The passage above reminds me that because I am a Christian, and have accepted Christ as my Savior, then when I do have my "bad days," my heavenly Father goes to bat for me. He speaks to HIS father on MY behalf, asking that I be forgiven. What an amazing thought! What an amazing thing! What an amazing Savior I have!

Forgiving one another is the hardest thing to do and the most beneficial. As God's chosen people we are to forgive all {did you hear that? ALL} grievances we have between one another because of the example set forth to us by Christ.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. -Colossians 3:12-14
and lastly....
And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your failings and shortcomings. -Mark 11:25-26, Amplified
This is why it is SO important and beneficial for us to forgive. Jesus can not do us that mighty favor by going to bat for us when we have our bad days if we have hate in our hearts, if we are holding grudges, if we are choosing to not forgive someone, for anything, no matter what. As 1st John says, if we are living in Him, we must walk as Jesus did (forgivingly). I personally do not want to sacrifice MY forgiveness, at the cost of living a life full of hate. Doesn't make sense at all to me why anyone would.

If you are choosing to hold a grudge, not forgiving someone, for anything, reconsider. The price is far too high and not even close to worth it, especially when you think about how trivial some of your grievances are. Let your light shine! Do not choose to be held captive in the darkness for another minute.

It's never too late
to turn everything around.

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