Monday, July 26, 2010

The Study of Forgiveness (final)

As I was breaking Hebrews 12: 15 apart, I noticed that Paul said “trouble you”. That root of bitterness will first and foremost trouble ME. Satan wants to trouble my soul with bitterness. Why? Satan is a smart enemy. He knows God and he knows me.

Satan knows that God is a jealous God who will not share His throne in my heart:

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me…” (Exodus 20:3-5).

Satan knows:

• My human weaknesses.

• that it is my nature to feel sorry for myself and when I do I take out every unforgiven hurt that others have committed against me look at them and think about them.

• unforgiveness left in my heart will soon gain strength and grow a root of bitterness that if not stopped will soon “root out” every other emotion and weave a wall between my heavenly Father and me.

I went to the book of Matthew and listened to the conversation between Jesus and Peter:
Then came Peter to him, and said, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?” Matt. 18: 21
Peter asked the Lord, “should I forgive someone for the same sin seven times?” I imagine Peter thought as I would have, that he was being very forgiving! You can imagine his surprise when Jesus told him not until seven times, but until seventy times seven. (Verse 22) That’s 480 times- For the same sin?! That’s an awful lot.

Why would Jesus say that? Jesus explained to Peter, to me, and to you in the verses that followed. (Remember the rule? “When you see the word ‘therefore’ always look back to see what it’s ‘there for’. “) Let’s look at the story Jesus tells us starting in verse 23:

In this earthly kingdom, it is time for the King to look over his finances. In studying the account book, he finds a person that owes him an enormous amount of money and hasn’t even begun to pay it back. In order to get back his investment, he orders the man, and everything he has to be sold, including his family.

When this person hears what is about to happen to him and his family, and that he will lose everything, he begs the King to give him time and he will come up with the money and will pay him.

After listening to the man’s plea for himself and his family, and his pledge to pay the debt, the King has pity on him. Not only does he tell the guards to turn the man loose, but he erases the man’s debt completely.

Can you imagine how this man must have felt, the weight that came off his shoulders when the King told him that he and his family were safe? They could keep their house, they could keep their car. (Using modern day transportation) They could now live debt-free, not having to worry about having too much month at the end of the money. He was on top of the world. He could do as he pleased with what he had. -- He had risen above the average servant; he was a man that owed no one.

Riding on this high he goes out and sees a man that owes him money, not much, but still he hasn’t paid it. He grabs the man up and starts demanding that he give him his money immediately. Well this poor guy doesn’t have any money on him. He pleads with him to be patient and he will get him the money. But he shows no mercy, he goes to the lawyers and has the man thrown in prison until the money is paid.

Meanwhile, some of the neighbors have seen everything that happened, and they think their neighbor has treated this man terrible. Soon word gets back to the King of what has been done. The King listened then called the person back in. Listen to what the King has to say:

“O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?”
Matt. 18:32-33

In other words: What are you thinking? You owed me far more than this man owed you, and when you asked me to give you time to pay, I showed you kindness and completely forgave all your debt. I took it as my loss so that you could be free of it. Don’t you think that you should have learned from this when you dealt with your fellow servant? Don’t you think that you should have had mercy on him the way that I showed mercy to you? Verse 34 tells the consequences of the lack of forgiveness on the servant’s part.

Then in verse 35 Jesus compares the story of the servant and the King to our relationship to God. Look closely at that relationship. Put yourself in the place of the first servant who owed a debt he could not pay. I did. I owed God a debt of sin; I had sinned against him from birth. At first I could not help it. I was born with a sinful nature. But as I grew older He began to show me that I could be different. When I came before Him, and He took the book and showed me just how large my debt had become and declared my payment, I pleaded with him for mercy and He was touched with compassion and took the loss Himself. He freed me forever of my debt that day. It was wonderful! He in His compassion saved me from my sin debt.

After you have thought about that, put the person that needs forgiveness from you in the place of the fellowservant who has a small debt that he has not paid. When others do me wrong, when they hurt me, I take everything into my hands and I deal with them the way that I think it should be. Jesus is telling me --and you that when others take something from us, whether it is material goods, or something as precious as joy and trust, that we should stop and think--remember when we took God’s sovereignty, his right to rule and reign in our life from Him. He showed mercy and forgave us. We are to go and do likewise.

Learn a lesson from not only the Old Testament story of Ahithophel, but also the New Testament parable of Jesus and forgive quickly so that the relationship with your King will not be broken, but will grow even stronger. The Apostle Paul built on Jesus’ teachings of forgiveness in his letter to the Ephesians.

"Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
neither give place to the devil." Ephesians 4:26, 27

These two verses are actually one complete thought. The colon (the two dots) are there to pretty much say, “Pay attention, I am going to give you a little more information so you can have a better understanding of what I am trying to get across.”

Paul is saying “I know you will get angry, that’s a natural emotion, BUT get it cleared up quickly.” Don’t hold onto that anger, don’t give the devil a place to get into your head and your relationships and start trouble.”

I found in 2 Corinthians that he is reminding this church of Jesus’ teachings on forgiveness. He knows that God wants his church to be strong, without spot or blemish and it cannot reach that goal unless it practices forgiveness. Verse 11 in 2 Corinthians chapter 2 ends a discussion on forgiving a brother in the church:

“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”

How we forgive others, who have sinned or wronged or hurt us without a reason-- or even for a reason, not only has a direct relationship to how God forgives us, but it can affect our spiritual, physical and emotional health.
Think about that for a moment. How forgiving are you? Would you want to be forgiven by God the same as you forgive others who have hurt you?

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