1998-01-16 - He Said What?!
Difficult Teachings of Jesus, Part 1
Jesus said some things that we forget, some things some of us don't know, and some things that we sometimes wish we didn't know. ;) For the next couple of weeks, we are going to explore some of the least-well-known and least-popular sayings of Christ.
(Mat 6:14-15 NNAS) "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 "But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."
Sometimes I believe the national pastime of the U.S. is lawsuits. People sue over hot coffee spilled at McDonald's. Even robbers sue the people they have robbed, for negligence! Television talk show advertisements promise titillating shows where people "get even" with those who scorned them. Forgiveness is not exactly in vogue. But Christ's words are as valid for us in 1998 America as they were in the Middle East two centuries ago. We are not to hold grudges. We are not to seek revenge. We are not to nurture grievances. No, we are not to be doormats. But bitterness is not the answer. If someone hurts us, we need to try to work things out.
What is the alternative? To not be forgiven ourselves. The word is clear. If we don't forgive others, God won't forgive us. When you think about it, that is kind-of startling, isn't it. And Christ doesn't say "forgive them IF they apologize." He doesn't say "forgive them" if they deserve it. (Who of us do deserve it?) He doesn't say "forgive those who don't do heinous things." Nope, he says simply to forgive. No conditions. Sometimes we think we don't have to forgive someone unless they are sorry, but that is not the case. And remember, Christ died for us before we were sorry. He suffered on the cross for us before we repented. He forgave those who did not ask for it, he forgave those who didn't think they had done anything to need forgiveness for. And so should we. It doesn't mean condoning what people do wrong. It doesn't mean not pretending not to be hurt, pretending that all is well when it's not. That would be dishonest anyway. It simply means forgiving in our hearts, deciding to not hold something against someone. Not being forgiven by God -- an awful thought, and a great incentive to work on forgiveness. Of course we should aim to do it for the purest motive, that of glorifying God and having a heart like His.
Forgiveness isn't easy. We can't do it on our own. We need God's help. We can will it. We can do our part, seek reconciliation and pray for the person(s). We can act forgivingly. If we do this, and pray for His help, God will honor that and help us. And the side effect is peace. There is a little poem I am going to try to quote. If anyone has the exact wording please send it to me, thanks!
Someone told me to forgive,
Dear Father, please reveal to us anyone we are holding grudges against. Please help us forgive others as You do us. We can only do this with Your help. In Jesus' name, amen.