Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Walking in Forgiveness – Part 1

 Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

I find it a Devine coincidence that our Friday evening small group Bible Study discussed a lesson on the very same topic and verses on the very same day of Pastor Bryan’s final lecture. Keynote speaker Pastor Bryan Loritts’ reminded us that forgiveness for the Believer must know no bounds. According to the common rabbinic thought of the day, offended persons only had to forgive three times, so Peter that ought that he was being generous by doubling that number plus one for the number of perfection. But Jesus’ stunning reply was saying that love doesn’t keep score. What the Lord is saying is that in the kingdom of Heaven “forgiven people forgive”. The “right” thing to do is to forgive from the heart as we have been forgiven. We will have some people in our lives that will always push the boundaries, but we should show mercy to others as we have been shown mercy; not in words, but in action and from the heart.

Matthew 6:9-15 “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

Unforgiveness will land us in Hell … whoa! But Pastor Bryan explains that forgiveness is not a “works salvation”. We do not forgive to get to Heaven. One of the indicators of authentic faith, genuinely and generously received forgiveness from God in Jesus Christ, is that we forgive and forgive. For a Christian to hold a grudge and not forgive is a oxymoron. Forgiving is what Christians do because it is who they are and whose they are. Forgiveness is about relationships and requires “relational courage” to sit down, have an honest conversation to really talk and resolve the situation and drop the burden. But there are three things that we must know: (1) Forgiveness is ridiculously irrational. What is rational is to keep score and “up the ante”. We tend to become ‘passive aggressive” to someone who does something to us that we do not like. But, dress it up any way you like; it’s unforgiveness. In our flesh nature, something rejoices in our heart at “getting back” and “getting even”. But, as the late writer C.S. Lewis wrote: “Forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” This means remembering where we stand with the Lord and in the “Lord’s Prayer”, the meaning of the words “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”.  We are offered “forgiveness’ on no other terms. And to refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There are no exceptions and God means what He says. Forgiveness is not “one, three or seven and done”, but a daily decision of “walking in forgiveness”.

Let’s pick up right here tomorrow to hear the conclusion of Pastor Bryan’s faithful and timely message on forgiveness.

In Christ, Brian

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