by pastor david
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you."
Did you ever say something like this? “I love everyone but there are some people I just don’t like!” As Charlie Brown of the Peanuts cartoon once said, “I love mankind. It’s people I hate.” I think most of us have said something to that effect at one time or another. We certainly do not wish anything bad would happen to anyone, but we just cannot get past something that has been said or done to hurt us.
Ivor Powell, Internationally known as, “The Preacher from Wales”, made an extraordinary statement about this very issue – a statement that will shine much needed light on the subject. He said, “Overflowing compassion is a refreshing rain falling upon the parched soil of human hearts.”[i]
Paul’s inspired instruction in Ephesians 4:32 is placed in the context of his teaching about believers putting on “the new man”. In other words, the ability and propensity to forgive one another is a characteristic of the believer’s new nature. The refusal to forgive others is a characteristic of the old, sinful nature. Yes, I said, “refusal” because the failure to forgive is a choice. Since God commanded us to forgive others, that means we have the choice and ability to do so or refuse to do so.
Churches filled with compassionate, forgiving people are an oasis in a desert of hatred and hostility. This kind of Church is a light in the darkness and a signpost pointing to better things. However, we will only have that kind of Church if we are that kind of people. The key to making forgiveness a reality in our attitude and actions is found in Paul’s phrase, “just as God in Christ also forgave you.”
The thing I try to remember is that no one has hurt me as much as I have hurt Christ. No one has sinned against me as much as I have sinned against Christ and yet He has forgiven me.
The reason we should forgive each other is that God has forgiven us. No matter how much a person has done against us, it does not come close to what we have done against God.
Yet, God has forgiven us. Why? For Christ's sake. Jesus Christ died for us—died for our sins so that we could be forgiven. Therefore, God forgives us. No matter what we have done, God forgives us when we turn to Him in faith and ask for His forgiveness. He forgives us despite our having rejected, cursed, ignored, neglected, and rebelled against Him.
Because of what Christ has done for us, we should forgive others no matter what they have done to us.
An unforgiving spirit will eat at your soul like a cancer, always consuming you, leaving you empty and bitter. The most frightening thing about holding a grudge against a person is that we develop the tendency to do the same thing with everyone! Before long we find ourselves with a long list of people, we will not forgive.
Choose today to move those people you have in your “Unforgiven File” over to the “Forgiven File”. Then, when you are reminded of those hurtful and harmful things someone has done, you will remember that you have forgiven them “just as God in Christ also forgave you”.
[i] Ivor Powell, The Exciting Epistle to the Ephesians, Kregel Publications
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
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