Saturday, July 30, 2005

Forgiveness is divine

Whenever I feel I’ve been wronged or somehow offended, I try to remember to ask myself how it compares to the wrongs inflicted on Jesus Christ. If we are to be truly Christlike, we have to ask this question, because it puts forgiveness in a whole new perspective.

Has someone hurt my feelings? How much more were the feelings of the Son of God trampled when His own creation rose up against Him and crucified Him? Has someone hurt my pride? Jesus moreso. God’s own Son, the Word made flesh, left his home in heaven and was made a little lower than the angels. Yet he took it honorably and without complaint. What in the world could I possibly have to complain about that compares to that? Not much, I figure.

You see, no wrong that we suffer here on Earth can possibly compare to what Jesus suffered in innocence--and innocence isn’t even something we can lay claim to when we’ve been wronged. Chances are more than good that there is enough fault to go around the table. And if we go by the Divine rule to let him who is without sin cast the first stone, I think we’ll all have to walk away from that table, stones still in hand.

But what about the person who doesn’t deserve my forgiveness? If he won’t even acknowledge that he’s wronged me, doesn’t that give me the right to withhold my forgiveness?


Did you deserve to be forgiven by your Maker, or were you forgiven in spite of the fact that you didn’t deserve it?

Did you deserve to have sinless Deity take the punishment for your sins, to be brutally beaten and left to die on the cross?

I didn’t think so. Paul writes:

    Colossians 3:13 - Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (NIV)
I know it takes the wind out of our sails to realize that the wrongs that have been done to us pale in comparison to the wrongs we’ve done to God, but as we ponder forgiving our brother, Jesus’ example is worth thinking about. If we have been undeservedly forgiven of so great a debt, shouldn’t we also forgive our brother, even if we don’t think he deserves it?

Paul seems to think so. Of course, that is the only Christlike action.

The greatest thing that God ever did was to forgive mankind and free him from his guilt when he least deserved it. That gift of Jesus Christ resonates throughout human history. It has provided the spark for more good deeds done in thankfulness to a gracious God than any of the good deeds that have been done out of guilt and shame.

The fact that we have been forgiven by God ought to heap coals of fire on our head, as the Scripture says. When we’re angry or resentful toward our friend, spouse, brother, or co-worker, remembering the gift we’ve been given should be a constant reminder of what we ought to give to those around us--our forgiveness. Yes, even if you don’t feel like they deserve it, and even if they never ask for it.

The parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18 tells the story of a man who was forgiven of his large debt by his master, but failed to forgive his own friend of the small debt owed to him. When the unmerciful servant is thrown into prison and beaten, Jesus says:

    Matthew 18:35 - "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." (NIV)
Our forgiveness should not just be in our words and actions, it should be from the heart. It should be real. We should “remember their sins no more,” because that is precisely what God did for us.
    Hebrews 8:12 - For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (NIV)
The consequences of failing to forgive are disastrous for the believer:
    Matthew 6:14-15 - 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. (NIV)
It’s time to stop eyeing our brothers to see if they’re within range of the stones in our pockets, and start working to make amends with them. Laying those stones at the foot of the cross will be a huge weight lifted from each of us, and will free us to actually do what may seem unthinkable right now—serve the person we just forgave.
    Colossians 3:15 - Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (NIV)

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Settling into Idaho

Pardon my absence from blogging while we finish settling into our new house in Idaho! After arriving at the new house, we promptly packed up the kids again to visit some Christian friends in Oregon over the July 4th weekend. We really are beginning to love the freedom of road trips and seeing God's beautiful country. The kids travel remarkably well and are loving it as well. We are also very encouraged by the fellowship and conversations with the people we meet.

I do have some hot topics that have been on my mind lately and will fire up the keyboard soon.

Until then...