Ministry of Love

The intention of this blog is to share Biblical messages at least on a weekly basis. Any response is appreciated. I do not expect everyone to agree with my interpretation of Biblical passages. I will try to respond with love and thoughtfulness.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Musings:02/16/10 Forgiving by John


When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He gave all of us one item that is sadly lacking today. It is forgiveness. We are to forgive others, and we usually go along with that, but when we begin to talk about who "others" are, we run into opposition. It is easy to forgive family members, isn't it? It should be, but you probably know families where one of more members do not speak, or communicate in any way because someone is holding a grudge against someone else in the family. Sometimes it is brother against brother, or sister against sister. Once in a while, much too often, a young adult is ostracized or disowned because their "lifestyle" doesn't meet family requirements. I'm thinking of children who are classified as homosexual, but there are many other reasons. I've visited people in jail who do not admit they have family because when they were convicted and imprisoned, their families, not legally, but effectively disowned them. I've also visited institutions and seen terribly deformed children who are never visited by their families, never at all. When they die, the state buries them. I hope all of these situations come to an end some day, but I am not optimistic about it. We tend to get rid of problems by getting them out of sight, don't we?
All of the above leave families accusing and excusing one another, and there is always a need for forgiveness.

Churches also suffer from internal strife. Christians struggle with salvation and living their lives like Jesus did. We used to say you could tell when Baptists were arguing. Their mouths were open. That's not literally true, but it is true too often in all churches not Baptist only.

We usually just think of this as a social problem, not a spiritual, but it is definitely spiritual. We forget that Jesus told His disciples that we should ask God to "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those trespass against us." Our pastor reminded us today that after the prayer, Jesus said to the disciples, "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men when they sin your Father will not forgive you." (Matthew 6:13,15). It is a reciprocal situation. God forgives us ALL our sins, and He expects us to forgive others ALL their sins! I capitalized "all" because there are no exceptions.

We find it hard to forgive, don't we? Can we forgive the men who crashed the planes into the Twin Towers? Can we forgive the German soldiers who slaughtered the Jews in WW II? What person have you not been able to forgive? I made it a priority in my life many years ago to forgive all wrongs done to me personally, and to my family. I've found it hard to keep. Some years ago, a dear lady in my presence prayed that God would send a pastor who would preach the Gospel. Several years later I received a letter from her asking forgiveness. I was so happy that I could answer her letter and tell her she was forgiven when she prayed it! I would like to tell you I've always been able to forgive like that, but I can't. It doesn't happen by itself. It's a constant struggle, but it is one I have to win.

Think about it. God has forgiven me every single terrible sin that I've committed. He's forgiven all of the failures I've had when it comes to witnessing the good news of Jesus, the times I was silent when I should have spoken. He's forgiven me for the times I've held a grudge against someone, and when I've refused to help someone in need. I require a lot of God's forgiveness because this adopted son is so much drawn to this world we live in!

There are others who have committed much more visible sins than I have, but what I am saying that all of us are in the same boat until we get out of it and walk to Jesus in simple faith. When He takes our hand, like he did Peter's when Peter walked to Him on the water, then we begin instantly to change. We begin to take responsibility for those broken relationships, for those who so obviously need Jesus, and those who are physically hungry, sick, in jail, in the hospital, and the list goes on and on!

We concluded a study this morning with the statement, if you don't forgive others, something is wrong between you and Jesus, and it is time to check your own salvation. Are you really committed to Jesus?


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