by pastor david
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.”
Do you expect to go through life without ever being hurt? Of course not! You have lived and loved long enough to know that you will be hurt and, sometimes, by those closest to you. Everyone gets wronged and offended by others. There is no way around it. That much is obvious.
However, I want to challenge you to consider another observation that may not be quite so easy to accept. As radio host Nancy Leigh Demoss says, “The outcome of our lives is not determined by what happens to us but by how we respond to what happens to us”.[i]
I am reminded of Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
The Apostle is not saying that everything that happens to us is good but that God has the ability to take all our circumstances, the pleasant and the unpleasant, the just and the unjust, and turn them around for our good and for His glory.
I am not suggesting that these wounds do not leave scars, but these injustices, horrendous as they may be, do not have the power to control the outcome of our lives as believers, if we respond Biblically.
Ephesians 4:32 reminds us that, “God in Christ forgave you.”
1. The believer is forgiven.
This is the starting point – we are forgiven. Oh how we should thank God that all our sins have been…
ü Removed from us: (Psalm 103:12) “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
ü Blotted out: (Isaiah 44:22) “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you."
ü Cast into the depths of the sea: (Micah 7:19) “He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
ü Remembered against us no more (Hebrews 10:17) "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."
Hallelujah! We are forgiven! Therefore, says Ephesians 4:32, we are to be “forgiving one another”.
2. The believer is to be forgiving.
There are essentially two ways of responding to life’s hurts and unfair experiences. The first and natural response is to become a debt collector. We set out to make the offender pay for what he has done. But the problem is that being a debt collector does more than keep our offender in debtors’ prison; it put us in prison as well.
However, there is another way. As an alternative to being debt collectors, God calls us to the pure, powerful choice of forgiveness and, when possible, reconciliation. Keep in mind that…
No sin against you is as horrific as your sin against God.
Yes, I said “choice”. Forgiveness is a choice. It is a step of obedience to Christ. Regardless of your feelings, make the choice today to forgive your offender(s). Then, you will discover that, over time, your emotions will catch up with your choices.
Feelings follow choices.
When emotions like hurt, anger, resentment, and thoughts of revenge arise within us, we can remind ourselves that on a specific day we, in obedience to our forgiving Savior, chose to forgive the indignity that conjures up so many unpleasant feelings.
Steve Canfield, with Life Actions Ministries, suggests five steps to follow in order to free oneself from the prison of bitterness and resentment.
1. Make a list of the people who have wronged you.
2. Confess to God, and then the offender, any wrong responses you may have had (e.g. hatred, bitterness, gossip). (Acts 24:16)
3. Thank God for each person who has wounded you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
4. As Christ has forgiven you, fully forgive each offender and offense. (Colossians 3:13)
5. Rebuild relationships and confirm your Christian love to the people on your list. (2 Corinthians 2:8)
The Lord Jesus was very clear and direct when He said, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25
One portion of the Lord’s model prayer is very dangerous to pray. Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” What if God’s forgiveness of us was in direct proportion to our forgiveness of others? If we do not forgive those who have “trespassed against us” then we are telling God not to “forgive us”. Can you seriously offer such a prayer to God? John Wesley said that kind of prayer was, “daring God to do His worst”.
Jesus calls us to embrace His love and accept responsibility for extending His gracious forgiveness to others. He wants us to apply the forgiveness we have received from God to our relationships with others. In so doing, we become partners with God in extending forgiveness to lost, sinful, rebellious people.
We show the world the reality of our faith by our shockingly gracious response to those who sin against us. The light of Christ shines ever so brightly when we obey His command to forgive one another.
[i] Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Forgiveness, Moody Publishers © 2006
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
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