KEY SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
RELEVANCE What does it mean when God says He will not forgive our trespasses? Think about it. Didn't Jesus die for our sins so we would be forgiven? These verses were spoken before Christ was resurrected, but are they a condition of being forgiven? At the time of our key scripture, so many corruptions had crept into the duty of prayer that Jesus wrote out what is now known as The Lord's Prayer for His followers when they didn't know what to pray for. (See Matthew 6:9-15) We find this prayer directly corresponds to the grace God gave us. If we accept that free grace, which we do, we must, in turn, exude free grace, as this is the sincerity of our Christianity. We are the conduits of Christ's love and wisdom. It is not defendable to display other graces of Christ yet exclude the foundational grace of forgiveness. To allow the Word to flood through our hearts and minds, yet tie our thoughts of malice or revenge to a tree so we don't lose them, does little for our relationship with our Saviour and other people. Forgiveness is a crucial part of the Bible's substructure. Yes, we can find scriptures within the Psalms or other books to excuse our unforgiving behaviour, but the Cross of Jesus Christ quashes them all. We must learn how to overcome the unforgiveness hurdle through biblical instruction and the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit. When we give all we have to Jesus Christ—all we own, all our dreams, our future, the pain and failures of our past, and our present—our life and death—we make significant progress towards that end. I speak to a lot of people who struggle to forgive, both in and out of prison. Unforgiveness is one thing we must clear from our hearts. If we receive hurt and then pass it back with vengeance, it is no better than an Old Testament sword fight to the death. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told Peter, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Jesus wants us smarter than simply lashing back or showing how ready and waiting we are for an argument. We involve ourselves in spiritual warfare. That means our warfare preparation is in the heart and mind, beginning with obedience to the peace and rest of the Holy Spirit.
There is certainly justified anger, but we don't let that morph into a fleshly, twisted spirit. We Christians are not in the business of dispensing pain, hurt or bitterness. We have the Holy Spirit within, who will soothe and re-form the offence we receive so we can return it in the form of a blessing. This is a must-do and precisely what Jesus said in Matthew 5:44, But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; The Holy Spirit enables us to flip our bruising on its head—to turn our lemons into lemonade. If we can't get past it—if we think we have been wronged so badly, we cannot forgive, and neither would Christ in the same scenario—there is a pride within that we've failed to recognise. Significant hurdles are attached to some unforgiveness and take time to overcome, but all wrongs are forgivable. Christ showed us that on His Cross when he died for all people while they were in their sin—while we were in our sin. I think a good benchmark to understand for our era is that God would have forgiven Adolph Hiter had he repented before he died—and the reality is we don't know if he did of didn't!
For further reading, see The Power of Forgiveness and The Reality of Unforgiveness. PRAYER Dear Lord, you said in Job 14 that man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble. Please help me to learn complete forgiveness so I can understand and walk the way of the cross more competently.
Photo by Nadine Shaabana