As I was thinking about the leaves yesterday and how they always seem to come back; I started thinking about sin and forgiveness. Forgiveness has a lot in common with the leaves that are ever present; it is continually needed, and has to be continually given. Have you ever wondered how many times you have to forgive someone, or how many times you have to show him or her grace? Well if you have been around long you have definitely asked yourself this question. It might be a family member, spouse, co-worker, boss, or friend. Sometimes people can be so mean, and so negative it literally drains the life right out of you. I have known a few of those in my life, and at a certain time, actually was one. I was so unhappy with my life I wanted everyone else to be just as miserable as I was. I was so self absorbed with myself, and what I was going through, I took it out on everyone around me. Thankfully God gave me a different heart, and I try to make an effort to be more positive. I have to admit it can be pretty hard at times, but luckily I have a good friend who keeps me in check.
The point is how do you deal? How do you cope? Is it right for a person to get to treat others anyway they want without consequences? Are we as Christians suppose to just lie down and roll over? The most normal reaction would be to write them off. We usually make a mental note that this person has offended us one too many times, and we are now finished with them. Honestly even if we write them off, if you still have to see them, has the emotion really changed? So therefore we are left with the question of forgiveness, and how much is enough? In my studying I found an interesting article stating what forgiveness is not: (based on sermon Luke 11:1-4)
1. FORGIVENESS IS NOT APPROVING OR DIMINISHING SIN.
2. FORGIVENESS IS NOT ENABLING SIN.
3. FORGIVENESS IS NOT DENYING A WRONGDOING.
4. FORGIVENESS IS NOT WAITING FOR AN APOLOGY.
5. FORGIVENESS IS NOT FORGETTING.
6. FORGIVENESS IS NOT CEASING TO FEEL THE PAIN.
7. FORGIVENESS IS NOT A ONETIME EVENT.
8. FORGIVENESS IS NOT NEGLECTING JUSTICE
9. FORGIVENESS IS NOT TRUSTING.
10. FORGIVENESS IS NOT RECONCILIATION.
The bottom line is that Jesus expects forgiveness from Christians. However, we have to understand what forgiveness really is, or is not. For instance when you hear someone say forgive and forget. I think this is the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard. If someone deeply wounds you, you will never forget it. You may choose to forgive and not dwell on it, but the words or deed cannot be removed. This is why it is imperative that we control our tongue and our attitude. I think if we can get a better idea of what forgiveness is it may pave the way for us to truly be able to forgive others. So let's look at a few scriptures that reinforce the idea of forgiveness, and its importance.
Mathew 18:23 tells the story of the unforgiving servant. A servant was forgiven of his debt, but then would not forgive someone else of their to debt to him. So in the end he was tortured until he could pay back the debt because he refused to show forgiveness. In verse 35 it says, “This is how your heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
In Mathew 18: 21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”
John 1:16 “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
Matthew 5:22-24 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you (attitude: forgive because you love the Lord)
Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.(attitude: loving and forgiving just like God forgave you)
If we are a Christians, then we do not get to choose our attitude or whether we want to forgive someone. If we want to walk in the spirit we must be willing to forgive and love no matter how we “feel”. My mentor often reminds me “teachers of the word are judged more severely because they are trained in the Word and know better. It is imperative that they go over and above to treat people with kindness, and always be willing to forgive so bitterness will not take root. I have thought about his statement often. I pray when times and people are difficult, God will allow me to strive to follow this godly advice.
Take time to watch: 10 Things That Forgiveness Is Not