Thursday, March 12, 2009

Learning to Forgive, by Being Forgiven

Col. 3:12-17 (ESV)
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, [13] bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. [14] And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. [15] And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. [16] Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. [17] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Being forgiven, and forgiving are central to the life of a Christian. Being forgiven is the easy part I suppose. You just are. You are forgiven it is an objective fact you can’t do anything about. Christ forgives you. You don’t have to ask him. He just tells you, “Your sins are forgiven.” Argue if you want with Him, but remember He is Lord, not you. It is the so you also must forgive part that is hard.
It can be hard to forgive. Often times we don’t want to forgive. We hold on to grudges. We nurse them. And this even happens among people who share the same altar rail. Nursing grudges in a congregation, it tears a congregation apart. Visitors can sense it too. Grudges cast long shadows. Coldness between two people, can be felt by a third. No one wants to join a congregation where people are at each other’s throats. No one wants to get involved in doing things if others have a tendency to criticize. Perhaps the greatest thing a congregation can learn to do is forgive. Forgive each other, and forgive their pastor. Pastor’s mess up too and are in constant need of forgiveness themselves. But forgiving is hard. Sometimes I tell myself to forgive. I pray to be able to forgive. Then I find myself thinking unholy thoughts concerning the person. Our sinful nature makes it impossible to forgive. The best we can do is try. Forgive, forgive and forgive again, and then ask the person to forgive us for not forgiving them. Sin bars the way. Oh we can forgive some things more easily than others. But unwillingness to forgive is one of those things we need to repent of, and put to death.
And then Christ does forgive us. He forgives us for not having a forgiving heart. He cleans that sin from us, and gives us a forgiven heart, and a clean conscience. And when we return to the font of his forgiveness, we find forgiveness with which even to forgive others. Because there he purifies our hearts and gives us a clean conscience in the forgiveness of sins.


Brigitte said...

This verse has a different twist for me these days: Romans 8:32: "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"

There is the good news. God has already made such a big sacrifice, taken such a big hit, loss, damage, will you doubt that he will fulfill all his promises? He certainly will fulfill them. He has already done the ultimate.

Beyond the fact that one forgiven sinner needs to forgive other sinners, and we ought to repent continually, there is this other point.

I have also taken a big hit. We all suffer big losses. We must learn to accept them. Will we not now give up our little grudges, not put up with littler things? Have we no perspective? Are we not chastened? Will we not be able to put up?

Nancy said...

Dying on the cross for the sins of the form of a man, Jesus prayed the only possible prayer of forgiveness...Father forgive them...He knew that this was a forgiveness that was humanly impossible so He asked the Father to do it for Him...and so He died shedding His blood for a forgiveness that brings LIFE abundant and eternal..

Are you carrying an unforgiven offence that has locked you in the past...Does it seem humanly impossible to love and forgive? Ask Jesus to do it for you...turn from the past; look to the future and rejoice.