Thursday, April 22, 2021

Forgive Seems Like An Impossible Command

“Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him. And the apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’” Luke 17:3-5

Martie and I were talking about her Bible Study Fellowship class that she leads and the issue of forgiveness. I find it interesting that I have been walking in the Way for some 45 years and yet a conversation with spark a thought that opens the door to more spiritual understanding. Not to say that I think I will ever arrive – but to say that I am reminded that God is at work in me by His Spirit through His Word and that will continue until the day I see Him face to face. But I digress!

Whenever Jesus said to do something – when the Word tells us to do something – it is a spiritual directive. God has no expectation that we can do what is spiritual in the power of our flesh. Forgiveness is a spiritual act.  Did you notice that the disciples asked Jesus for more faith? Why? I think because doing what Jesus just told them to do ran crosswise to what their flesh told them to do.  Please don’t miss the qualification of forgiveness – repentance.  Repentance is not saying you are sorry – that leads to repentance but it is not repentance.  Repentance is a heart change and is also spiritual. The offender is not repentant only towards the person offended, but first toward God. It is a change of heart and that toward God first and the one offended second.

Man’s laws – even though Biblical based – cannot change hearts. Violated, the offender might be punished, but that does not change a heart – prison does not change a heart – only faith in Jesus can do that – it is spiritual not natural. But how difficult is it to forgive someone – even though they repented – had a heart change – our flesh cries out for not just restitution – but retribution. Our flesh does not want them to avoid punishment. We want our pound of flesh! We demand it!

Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘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. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’  So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.’” – Matthew 18:21-30

We want God to forgive us, but struggle with demonstrating that same forgiveness toward others. The reason is it is spiritual. Not forgiving someone who has repented reveals our own hearts. Do you not like that thought? Me either! That is the difference between the spirit and the flesh. Forgiveness reveals our spiritual struggle. Martie made the point that we need to pray about forgiveness and not just “try” to forgive. When we say, “I just can’t forgive.” That is an indication that we understand the spiritual nature of forgiveness. But if we say, “I won’t forgive!” well that is an indication that we have a heart problem.  There is much more to be said, but I will leave it here. That is enough for one day. 

Believe it – walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

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